06/15/11 7:50 PM ET
Scott's bunts make Blue Jays rethink shift
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
The Blue Jays shifted all of their infielders toward the right side of the diamond when the left-handed hitting Scott came to bat on Tuesday night.
Both times Toronto made the move, Scott squared around and laid a perfectly executed bunt down the third-base line for an infield single.
"He adjusted to us, that's clear," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Not many bunt attempts. We took him out of his power swing by putting the ball on the ground via the bunt.
"Typically, if guys will look to do that, they'll look to take one shot at it."
Scott has eight home runs, but is hitting just .251 in 167 at-bats this season. The 32-year-old said he embraces that type of alignment and will take advantage of it with an opposite-field single any chance he gets.
"I'm tired of hitting balls into the shift," Scott said. "I'm not a big fan of hitting .240. So you do what you can ... I've seen it for a few years."
Highly touted prospect Stewart ready for debut
TORONTO -- Zach Stewart is set to make his highly-anticipated Major League debut on Thursday afternoon against the Orioles.
Stewart received the call from Double-A New Hampshire after rookie right-hander Kyle Drabek was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas to work on his command.
The 24-year-old Stewart has been one of Toronto's top prospects since coming over in a 2009 non-waiver Trade Deadline deal with the Reds for Scott Rolen.
"His composure," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said when asked what impressed him the most about Stewart. "His ability to throw three pitches for strikes. He's able to get two outs with one pitch because of his good sinking fastball. I think he showed it very well in Spring Training."
In 2010, Stewart went 8-3 with a 3.63 ERA for New Hampshire. This year, Stewart was assigned to the Fisher Cats for the second consecutive season, but things didn't start off as smoothly as they finished.
Stewart went 2-2 with a 5.56 ERA in six starts during May, but he appears to have turned a corner in recent outings.
The native of Texas closed out the month with eight shutout innings and has allowed a total of five earned runs over his past 19 frames.
"[His] arm strength has continued to climb coming out of Spring Training," Farrell said of Stewart's progression. "That's not to say that everything is relying on sheer velocity, but the quality of the execution has been more consistent from start to finish of his outings. Two of the last three have been very strong games."
The club decided to start Stewart at Double-A this season to keep him away from the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League in Triple-A. The PCL is notoriously tough on pitchers because of the high altitude, poor fielding conditions and more advanced hitters.
The Blue Jays made a similar decision with Drabek in 2010, but Farrell said it's not necessarily always going to be the approach Toronto takes. Each situation is handled on a case-by-case basis.
"I can't say there's an actual blueprint on what every position player or pitcher should follow," Farrell said. "The one thing that he hasn't experienced is the older, more veteran journeyman-type of hitter that might be able to sit on pitches more regularly.
"But regardless of a hitter sitting on those pitches, if he goes out, executes and pitches to the bottom of the strike zone, which he can, even when a ball is squared up, that has resulted in the ball being put on the ground."
Stewart is ranked Toronto's No. 4 prospect by MLB.com. He was 4-2 with a 4.37 ERA in 10 starts this season for New Hampshire.
Hindsight 20/20 for Farrell after 'pen miscues
TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager John Farrell admitted on Wednesday afternoon that he likely made a mistake in the way he handled his bullpen during Toronto's series opener against the Orioles on Tuesday.
Farrell brought left-hander Marc Rzepczynski in to pitch the top of the eighth inning with the right-handed Vladimir Guerrero and switch-hitting Matt Wieters due up.
The decision was made because Guerrero was 1-for-7 against Rzepczynski in his career, while Wieters was 0-for-3. The move didn't pay off, as Guerrero earned a five-pitch walk and Wieters followed with a two-run homer.
"I'll be quite frank with you and admit I weighed more of the history than the current trend that a pitcher is in," Farrell said. "Even more specific to that, it was the second hitter of the inning that swayed my decision.
"What Rzep and Casey [Janssen] specifically had done against Wieters was pretty much the swing vote, and in retrospect it was a poor decision."
Rzepczynski started off the season as one of the league's most reliable setup men, but he's struggled in the month of June. He has allowed four runs and six walks in just 4 2/3 innings.
Farrell often talks about his tendency to rely on past performance statistics when making decisions with the bullpen. He said approximately 10 at-bats translates into a suitable sample size, but how a pitcher is throwing should also factor into any potential move.
"There is definitely a balance," Farrell said. "If the appearances are lengthy enough where you have a more concrete feel on what the past history against one another has been, that will have a bearing.
"But that's part of the feel of using your gut or using the current trend or performance of a pitcher has been, versus what they have done over the history of time."
Infielder John McDonald was scheduled to play seven innings for Class A Dunedin on Wednesday night. He is expected to play a full nine innings on Thursday, and should be ready to rejoin the Blue Jays on Friday in Cincinnati.
McDonald is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring. He hasn't played since May 26 against the White Sox.
Toronto entered Wednesday night's game riding a 15-game home winning streak against the Orioles. That marks the longest streak by the Blue Jays against any one team in franchise history.
Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his h blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB b>. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.