NEW YORK -- The revolving door behind Jose Bautista in the batting order continued on Monday night, as the Blue Jays inserted Yunel Escobar into the cleanup spot for the first time this season.
Toronto has now used four players in the No. 4 position in the lineup since Adam Lind went down with a back injury on May 7.
Manager John Farrell has juggled the lineup more than he wanted in an attempt to find some protection for Bautista. Farrell felt that Escobar might be a good fit against Yankees starter Bartolo Colon because of the infielder's ability to protect the outer half of the plate.
"For the time being, with Adam's situation and still being on the disabled list, we're in a little bit of a state of flux," Farrell said. "What has become apparent in what we have to respond to is in the way teams are approaching Jose.
"[Colon's] dominant down to his glove side, down and away, and we felt like Yunel has swung the bat here really well of late."
Edwin Encarnacion, Juan Rivera and Aaron Hill have all been given auditions in the cleanup spot. The trio combined to hit just .216 with no home runs and eight RBIs.
Now it's Escobar's turn to offer some sort of protection to Bautista, who entered Monday's game with 39 walks this season and hit his 19th homer of the season off Colon in his first at-bat.
Farrell wouldn't commit to how long Escobar's audition would last.
"[There's] every intent to try to gain some continuity," said Farrell, who has used 41 lineups in 47 games. "It has been pretty much the antithesis of that, because of the uncertainty, because we're not trying to be so knee-jerk reactionary with the lineup.
"Yet we're looking for combinations to address what is being presented to us right now, and that's a clear-cut strategy with Jose, and we're trying to respond to that the best we can with the internal options."
Escobar's transition to fourth created an opening for Rajai Davis to return to the leadoff spot. Davis began the season in the club's top spot but sustained an ankle injury during the first game of the season and has struggled to find continued success.
The 30-year-old has been hitting well as of late, though, batting .364 with six runs and three doubles over his past 12 games.
Davis also leads the Blue Jays with 12 stolen bases in 16 attempts this year.
Lind may see reduced workload upon return
NEW YORK -- Adam Lind's sore back continues to improve but has not reached the point where he is ready to take part in a full game.
Lind, who hasn't played since May 7 because of tightness in his lower back, had another good day on Monday, according to manager John Farrell. The first baseman took approximately 50 swings and also ran in the pool for 20 minutes after he completed baseball-related activities.
Lind's workload will continue to increase this week, and if everything goes well, he is expected to start at designated hitter in an extended spring training game on Wednesday.
"It has become much, much more tolerable," Farrell said of Lind's back woes. "The discomfort continues to decrease, so he is making progress just from how he feels physically.
"What we have to continue to do is ramp up the intensity, and the volume, and be sure that there is not any recurrence of that soreness, and then get him back in games and ultimately back with us. We're hopeful it's sometime in the upcoming homestand."
The club is also expected to reduce Lind's workload at first base when he returns. The 27-year-old won't come back primarily as a designated hitter, but he will get occasional starts in that role.
"I think once he comes back, we'll continue to use Juan [Rivera] at first base to be sure that we gradually build the innings played under Adam's belt, gradually," Farrell said.
"We've got to balance the volume at first base."
Lind was batting .313 with seven home runs and 27 RBIs at the time of his injury.
Bautista taking attention, pressure in stride
NEW YORK -- Jose Bautista held court with a throng of New York-based reporters prior to his club's series opener against the Yankees.
Bautista has received an increasing amount of media attention as his impressive 2011 campaign continues. That added responsibility and the pressure that comes with it would take its toll on a lot of players, but Bautista experienced a lot of the same exposure last year as well.
"There's always an adjustment, but I have to deal with it," Bautista said. "I'm trying to deal with it the best I can to accommodate everybody, and it's not like it's something bad."
As Bautista continues to produce at a record pace -- he hit his 19th homer of the season in the first inning on Monday -- the club has noticed an adjustment in the way opposing teams pitch to him.
"They're taking the bat out of his hands," manager John Farrell said. "Just from a sheer strategy standpoint, they're not putting him in a position where he can affect the outcome of the game, particularly late in the game."
Bautista entered Monday's matchup leading the Majors in walks, with 39. He also leads the Majors in home runs, runs (37), on-base percentage (.500), OPS (1.316) and extra-base hits (26).
The Blue Jays optioned utility man Mike McCoy to Triple-A Las Vegas following Sunday afternoon's game against the Astros. It is the fourth time this year McCoy has been sent down.
Despite his roller-coaster ride through the season, McCoy has handled it well, according to manager John Farrell.
"He has been a pro about it," Farrell said. "He understands the role he's in, he understands that we've had some injury situations, some personal situations that have come about. So he is fully respectful, and we're respectful of him and his abilities."
Right-hander Casey Janssen entered Monday's game against the Yankees with 19 relief appearances. He has allowed a run in just two of those games and has not surrendered one over his past 6 1/3 innings.
Catcher J.P. Arencibia leads all Major League rookies with eight home runs, 12 walks and 16 extra-base hits. He ranks second with 13 runs, 28 hits, six doubles, 19 RBIs and 64 total bases.