05/02/10 2:56 PM ET
Encarnacion to play in extended spring game
By Jordan Bastian and James Hall / MLB.com
While a definitive date has not been set for Encarnacion's return, it remains unknown who will be removed from the lineup to make room for the rehabbing 27-year-old.
With the organization's commitment to playing outfielder Travis Snider, and Jose Bautista's potent bat -- four home runs and 16 RBIs -- and defensive versatility, it appears newly acquired Fred Lewis will be the odd man out.
"When Edwin comes back, Bautista has to go out there, and I'm not sure what we're going to do with left field," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said prior to Sunday's game vs. the A's. "If it ends up being Lewis out there or ends up being Snider out there, I don't know right now. We'll see what happens."
Gaston, however, has made it clear on several occasions that Snider is a cornerstone for this organization going forward and that he has nothing left to prove in Triple-A, citing if Snider is with the big club, he's going to see everyday playing time.
Bautista, who filled in at third base in Encarnacion's absence, said he is comfortable wherever Gaston sees fit.
"No preference," Bautista said as to where he wants to play. "It just depends on the type of configuration the team has and where the manager wants to use me."
"I feel a little bit more comfortable in the outfield," Bautista added, "just because I've been playing most of the last couple seasons out there. I'm making a bit of an adjustment back in the infield, but I do enjoy playing third."
Butterfield not a fan of outfield video boards
TORONTO -- Brian Butterfield did not like the video boards that were built into the walls at Rogers Centre when they were first installed, and the Blue Jays' third-base coach still wishes they were not there.
On Sunday, Butterfield wanted to make that known again, considering the colorful boards that occupy sections of the wall in the left-center- and right-center-field gaps played an unfortunate role in Saturday's 4-3 loss to the A's.
"I've complained about it since they were put in place," Butterfield said. "I'll tell you that right now and you can print it. It's something that we've brought up every year."
In the seventh inning on Saturday, Blue Jays outfielder Fred Lewis pulled a pitch into the right-center-field gap for a sure double. Lewis lost track of the baseball as it bounced in front of the video boards and he decided to try to leg out a triple. Lewis was thrown out at third base to end the inning, halting an important rally.
Butterfield said he also had trouble locating the baseball as it headed toward the wall.
"It's a guessing game," Butterfield said. "I had no idea where the ball was either. Freddy came up to me and said, 'I'm sorry.' ... The one thing that I've said for years is I've got to know where the ball is at all times. I've told people here since they put those boards in, sometimes when the left fielder is running, I don't know if he's caught the ball or not.
"I can't tell. I'm searching around for the ball and I don't know. When I see him running back in with the ball in his glove, that's when I know that he's caught it."
Butterfield added that Lewis' sprint to third was entirely his decision. On those type of plays, the third-base coach said the call is left to the baserunner -- Butterfield does not put up a stop sign or wave the runner on.
"I don't do anything," Butterfield said. "I have my arms folded -- it's their read. You know what happens to kids, they're taught to look over here at the third-base coach on balls in front of them and they never learn to be instinctive baserunners. So no, he's not even looking over here."
Cecil's new cut fastball improving
TORONTO -- Another weapon is never a bad thing. That is why Brett Cecil began working on adding a cut fastball to his arsenal during Spring Training. The young lefty has carried the pitch into the regular season, but he admits that it is still a work in progress.
"If I throw it to the outside, then I stay on it pretty well and it hits 87-88 mph," Cecil said. "When I try to go inside, I tend to pull it a little bit, so it's like 83, like a slider. I need to work on staying through it."
Since being recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on April 23, Cecil has used the cutter sparingly in each of his first two outings with the Blue Jays. In his start against the Red Sox on Wednesday, Cecil said he and catcher Jose Molina decided to pick their spots for using the cutter and the two-seam sinking fastball.
Cecil said he used the cutter against Boston third baseman Adrian Beltre, who fouled off the pitch. The left-hander also used three cutters with Red Sox slugger Kevin Youkilis at the plate, resulting in one ball, a foul and a called strike. It's a small sample size, but Cecil has been encouraged by the early results.
"I tried it in rookie ball, but I could never get the tilt on it," said Cecil, who resumed working on the pitch with fellow Jays lefty Brian Tallet during the spring.
Lower arm slot has Morrow on a roll
TORONTO -- Starting pitcher Brandon Morrow has noticed it. Pitching coach Bruce Walton has noticed it. And ultimately, fans of Blue Jays baseball have noticed it.
Over his past three starts, Morrow has looked like a totally different pitcher.
After Friday's 10-2 victory over the A's, in which Morrow went six innings and allowed only two runs while tying a career high with nine strikeouts, he attributed his dominating performance to a small adjustment in his pitching mechanics.
"My arm has been feeling really good with those little tweaks we made a few starts ago," Morrow said. "I'm starting to get more comfortable with it, and I'm becoming more consistent."
So what exactly did Morrow do?
According to Walton, Morrow worked on slightly lowering his arm slot, preventing him from coming directly over the top.
"I think it makes him more consistent," Walton said. "He keeps the ball down in the strike zone better and gets much better sinking action on his fastball. His secondary pitches are much better, making him more consistent all the way around."
One would have to agree, because over his past three starts, Morrow has surrendered only five runs in 19 innings pitched, while striking out 25 batters. It's a drastic improvement from his first two starts, in which Morrow was tagged for 12 runs in only nine frames, giving up three home runs -- something he has not fallen victim to since the adjustment.
While the tweaks have undoubtedly made him a better pitcher, Morrow believes he still has work to do.
"My release point has been really good out of the stretch," Morrow said. "It's not quite there out of the windup."
"I think his arm slot now fits the load and go he had," Walton said, referring to why Morrow has had better results out of the stretch. "His motion looks very smooth, with a load and go that's around 1.25-1.30 seconds. His arm slot goes very well with the load and go."
Pitching from the stretch, Morrow has been able to work out of several jams in his past three outings.
"Strikeouts have been getting me out of trouble," Morrow said. "It's the way it's been the last couple starts now -- that's why they're good."
Flu-like symptoms force Snider to bench
TORONTO -- Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider was removed from the starting lineup before Sunday's contest against the A's with flu-like symptoms.
There is no timetable for his return. John McDonald hit ninth in the order and played third, with Jose Bautista shifting from third back into right field, where he played most of his games before third baseman Edwin Encarnacion went on the 15-day disabled list April 15.
Snider was batting .149 with three home runs and five RBIs heading into Sunday's game.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.