05/07/11 9:49 PM ET
Francisco, Rauch sharing closer role
By Arden Zwelling / MLB.com
"The fact is, we have multiple ways we can go in those eighth and ninth inning matchups," Farrell said. "We're fortunate to have the type of options we have if we need them."
Francisco was named the team's closer in Spring Training, but started the regular season on the disabled list with a strained pectoral muscle. In his absence, Rauch assumed the closing duties and notched five saves in April before blowing a save in Tampa Bay on May 3.
Francisco has converted both save opportunities since Rauch's blown save, including a three-pitch save Friday night in Toronto's 7-4 win over the Tigers. Rauch pitched a scoreless eighth inning in that game.
"We had every intention of getting through the game without Frankie coming in, but we needed him," Farrell said.
The first-year manager also noted that with two left-handed batters due up in the eighth inning, he liked the matchup for Rauch, who has held lefties to just a .185 batting average this season. Rauch has also consistently been able to find the zone in his appearances this year, walking just four batters on the season.
"That's where, for me, that was a very good fit for him in that role last night," Farrell said. "Strike throwing is so critical in the eighth inning because you've got the ninth inning behind you -- there's not that sense of urgency. You don't see guys chase pitches in the eighth inning but I think you do in the ninth."
While Farrell stopped short of naming Francisco his full-time closer, it appears the 31-year-old right-hander will be getting the majority of the work in the ninth inning while Rauch is used only for certain matchups.
"He really has those types of weapons to shut some people down," Farrell said of Francisco. "He's gaining arm strength. The last three or four outings we're seeing better velocity and better command with his stuff."
Davis goes from first to last in lineup
TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager John Farrell juggled his lineup Saturday, bumping right fielder Rajai Davis down to ninth in the order from his typical leadoff spot, which set off a domino effect throughout the batting order.
"We want to give Rajai a little bit of a breather, get him out of the leadoff spot -- particularly against [Tigers starter Justin] Verlander today," Farrell said. "I just want to get him out of that leadoff spot and allow him to take a little bit of a breather inside the lineup and let him get in the flow of the game."
Davis has struggled to get started in 2011, hitting just .183 with 11 hits in his first 14 games. The outfielder missed 17 games in April with a sprained right ankle and has been slow to find his swing after returning from the disabled list.
"Right now his timing is a little bit off. His swing has gotten a little bit long," Farrell said. "He's working on getting back to the swing he showed in Spring Training where he was short and compact and to the point of contact."
Farrell would like to see Davis get on the basepaths more as well, where he has already stolen seven bases in 14 games, despite having just a .222 on-base percentage entering Saturday's game. The 30-year-old set a career high for steals in 2010 with 50.
"We need him getting on base. He's go the ability to be so disruptive. It's just part of trying to get him back on track right now," Farrell said.
As a result of Davis' move to the bottom of the order, left fielder Juan Rivera was bumped up to the No. 3 spot in order to leave Adam Lind in the cleanup role.
Lind is performing like one of the best hitters in baseball, batting .429 with six home runs and 18 RBIs over his last 14 games entering Saturday. Meanwhile, Rivera went 3-for-4 Friday night with three singles and has hit .378 in his last ten games after starting the season in a funk.
"He's a little bit more relaxed and I think the relaxation has allowed the bat speed to play up a little bit better," Farrell said of Rivera. "I think getting back on the field, and playing a full game where he's staying in the rhythm of the game a little bit more has helped with all of that.
J.P. Arencibia moved up to the No. 5 spot, which is the highest in the order that the rookie catcher has hit all season. The 25-year-old is hitting .237 with two home runs and five RBIs in his last ten games.
Shortstop Yunel Escobar took over the leadoff slot. Escobar is batting .252 on the season with a stolen base.
Hill off DL, Bautista on track for Sunday
TORONTO -- Aaron Hill was activated from the disabled list following Saturday's night's game and will be available to play Sunday.
Hill -- who has missed the last 16 games with a sore right hamstring -- flew back to Toronto Saturday from Florida, where he had been on a rehab assignment with Class A Dunedin. Blue Jays manager John Farrell expects the 29-year-old to be slotted in at second base for his Mother's Day lineup against Detroit.
Slugger Jose Bautista, meanwhile, took batting practice in the cage at Rogers Centre Saturday and could return to the lineup Sunday as the Blue Jays' designated hitter.
"He improved again today. He threw, he ran. There was no reproducing of the symptoms when he did run," Farrell said after Saturday night's game. "Provided he checks out tomorrow, we anticipate him being available."
Bautista -- hitting .357 with 9 home runs and 16 RBIs -- has missed the past five games with neck spasms that have limited his playing ability in the field. The Blue Jays' home run leader received treatment from the team's medical staff Saturday morning and was a possibility to pinch hit during Saturday night's game in an emergency situation.
To make room for Hill to return to the roster, the club optioned infielder Mike McCoy to Triple-A Last Vegas.
The Blue Jays pitching staff worked on their bunting ahead of Saturday's game in preparation for the start of interleague play next month. ... Brett Cecil won his second straight game for Triple-A Las Vegas Friday night, allowing four hits and one earned run over six innings while striking out six. ... The Blue Jays bullpen leads the American League with a 2.72 ERA and has held opposition hitters to a .156 batting average over the last 12 games.
Arden Zwelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.