Bautista's move to third could come Tuesday
Blue Jays giving slugger plenty of time to adjust to new position
DETROIT -- One of the most anticipated position switches this season could happen as early as Tuesday -- hopes Blue Jays manager John Farrell.
Jose Bautista has been fielding ground balls at third base for three days and will move from the outfield once he feels comfortable.
"What can't be overstated is Jose's willingness, and a complete team player, to go there as we've asked," Farrell said. "But out of respect to that, on his part, we've got to give him ample time to get his feet on the ground, get comfortable with the rhythm and the tempo of a ground ball."
Farrell said Bautista was worried about arm soreness moving from the outfield to third base and back. But Farrell said Bautista will stick at the hot corner for a while once he moves. Bautista is hitting .325 with 23 home runs this season, all from the outfield and designated hitter spots.
"The one thing that Jose was very clear on, which we completely understand and respect, is that when you go back and forth, and you change that throwing stroke, that's when the soreness can come into play," Farrell said. "As he's shortening up his arm stroke at third base, we'll be sure that we leave him there for an extended period of time and not bounce him back and forth."
Bautista played 48 games (making 45 starts) at third base last season, hitting .281 with 17 home runs and 40 RBIs. He has played the position in 343 games throughout his career and prepared there in Spring Training, but moving back to the position and being successful based on the past is not that simple.
"A lot can be said, 'Just put him back at third base because he's been a third baseman in the past,'" Farrell said. "He hasn't played there in nearly three months. That's something he's stated he'll be more comfortable with, and we'll grant that to him."
Thames slated to get ample time in outfield
DETROIT -- With slugger Jose Bautista preparing for a move to third base, a spot in the outfield has opened up for rookie Eric Thames, who was called up on Thursday.
Thames started in left field and hit second on Monday against the Tigers. Thames went 2-for-2 with two doubles on Friday against the Cardinals and is hitting .298 with the Blue Jays -- though most of those at-bats came earlier in the season.
"He'll get reps in left, right and the DH, with the stated plan of getting Jose to third base, hopefully [Tuesday] or the next day," said Blue Jays manager John Farrell. "Depending on the matchup, that's where he'll be. He'll be in both left and right and we'll have more flexibility to rotate [Juan Rivera], [Corey Patterson], [Rajai Davis] and Eric through the outfield with a little bit more regularity."
Farrell put the left-handed batting Patterson in the DH spot against Detroit right-hander Max Scherzer on Monday -- something Toronto hasn't been able to do since June 16, as it had played nine straight games at National League parks.
"We wanted to get the three left-handed bats in the lineup," Farrell said. "We're in the process of, and going to, get a more extended look with Eric in the outfield. Given how large this outfield is [at Comerica Park], I felt like Rajai's presence in center field was needed and yet, at the same time, getting Corey in there was by design with going up against Scherzer."
Litsch needs at least two more rehab starts
DETROIT -- Starter Jesse Litsch has been getting closer to returning to the Blue Jays following a shoulder injury he suffered in late May.
Litsch threw 53 pitches in 3 2/3 scoreless innings for Double-A New Hampshire on Thursday. He went on the disabled list on May 20 with an impingement in his right shoulder.
"We're looking at a minimum of two more [starts]," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Last time out was 53 pitches. Ideally, we'd get him 85-90 pitches before we activate him and get him back here, considering the bullpen and the need to have the ability built up enough for him to work deeper in the game."
Litsch was 4-3 with a 4.66 ERA for Toronto and hasn't pitched more than 6 1/3 innings in a game this season.
Blue Jays, Tigers have geographical rivalry
DETROIT -- With the city of Detroit hosting its annual fireworks over the Detroit River on Monday night with the Blue Jays in town, manager John Farrell was asked if the Blue Jays and Tigers had any sort of rivalry remaining from years past.
Before Major League Baseball split leagues into three divisions, the Tigers and Blue Jays had plenty of rivalry type moments in the old American League East. Detroit is but a river away from Canada, and many Blue Jays fans make their way over to Comerica Park when the club is in town.
But with the Tigers and Jays usually playing two series per year, the potential is greater than the reality of the rivalry.
"Geographically, one could say it's a natural rivalry," Farrell said. "But schedule-wise, division-wise, it doesn't fall into that category. We go where [MLB] tells us to go."
Chris Vannini is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.