07/04/11 7:33 PM ET
Club signs international free-agent prospects
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
The club came to terms with shortstop Dawel Lugo of the Dominican Republic and right-hander Osman Gutierrez from Nicaragua.
Lugo, 16, is a right-handed hitter who stands 6-foot-1 and weighs 180 pounds. He will begin his professional career playing for the Blue Jays in the Dominican Summer League.
The 16-year-old Gutierrez will also begin his career in the Dominican Summer League. He is a 6-foot-4, 200-pounder with a power arm.
Terms of the signing bonuses were not disclosed by the club.
Snider has big day in return to Major Leagues
BOSTON -- Travis Snider made a successful return to the Blue Jays' lineup on Monday afternoon, recording a career-high three doubles in a 9-7 victory over the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Snider had spent the past two months working on his mechanics at the plate in Triple-A. He unveiled a new batting stance and for at least one game, it proved quite effective.
There were plenty of positives to take from the game, but perhaps the most impressive aspect was Snider's production came in a variety of situations at the plate.
"I think all three of them were a little different," said Snider, who went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs. "The first one was a fastball middle away, I stayed on it. The second was an offspeed pitch I was able to stay back [on] and keep it fair down the line.
"The third one, they were trying to come in with a cutter most of the day and I was able to stay inside of it and hook it down the line."
Snider was hitting just .184 with one home run and 12 RBIs in Toronto before getting sent down April 28. At the time of his demotion, Snider's batting stance was square to the plate and a little bit top heavy.
That caused Snider to pull off with the front side of his body in an effort to drive the ball. He's now starting with more of an open stance, which allows his hands to move freely through the zone.
"When you're trying to hit with your body instead of with your hands, that's where you see a lot of swinging and missing," Snider said before the Boston game.
"A lot of balls that would normally be driven into left-center, or driven to right field, are now just missing or not driven because the barrel [of the bat] is manipulated with the way your body is moving. For me, that was the hardest change to make."
Snider spent time working with Las Vegas hitting coach Chad Mottola to make the necessary adjustments. The numbers weren't very positive at first because Snider basically had to take a step back before being able to move forward.
But as Snider started to become more comfortable with his new stance, the results followed. By the time his stint in Triple-A ended, he was hitting .333 with 29 RBIs and 25 extra-base hits.
It took a lot of patience, but the hard work paid off when he was informed at the end of last week he would be returning to the big leagues.
"I think most importantly, it's an opportunity to come up here and help the team win," Snider said. "I think from a personal standpoint, I would never have wished this to happen in my career where you have some periods of success and then some periods of failure.
"You're going to have some times where it doesn't feel right, but I feel confident now with the routine that I've established and the mechanics that I've come to learn, understand and relearn over the past couple of months, it's something that's going to benefit me moving forward."
Bautista accepts Home Run Derby invitation
BOSTON -- Jose Bautista was a surprise omission from last year's State Farm Home Derby, but on July 11, he will take center stage at the popular competition.
Bautista was asked to participate by American League captain David Ortiz. Boston's designated hitter was one of the most outspoken athletes last season when Bautista was snubbed and it was no surprise the two will now join forces.
The 30-year-old Bautista received a phone call from Ortiz on Sunday with the invite. Both men hail from the Dominican Republic and have worked out together in the past, which added a little more significance to the moment.
"He's always reached out to me since I was younger," Bautista said of Ortiz. "Having him pick me is great because I know the support he was giving me last year. Now, he has a choice and he obviously did what he thinks is right and he selected me. It's great coming from him and I hope to do a good job and represent him well."
Bautista entered Monday's game against Boston with the Major League lead in home runs with 27. He has yet to decide who will be his pitcher, but added it likely will be somebody already at the All-Star Game festivities.
The two-time All-Star has competed in home run derbies, but only in the Minor Leagues. This one will be a greater challenge, and he's looking forward to the opportunity.
"I'm not worried about it at all," Bautista said. "I don't think it's going to mess up my swing or anything. I'll be fine, hopefully I'll get to hit some, and maybe win, and that way we can raise some money for the charities we're going to be swinging for."
Escobar may return to lineup Wednesday
BOSTON -- Shortstop Yunel Escobar's injured left hand hasn't improved enough to make a return to the Blue Jays' lineup, but he could play as early as Wednesday.
Escobar has missed three games since being hit on the left hand by a pitch on Friday against Philadelphia.
The 28-year-old played catch and hit off a tee Monday morning, but has yet to take batting practice. That is expected to take place Tuesday, with a legitimate possibility to start the following day.
Toronto manager John Farrell isn't concerned about any possible long-term effects from the injury. Escobar's hand didn't swell up which allowed proper imaging and test results came back normal late last week.
"The CT scan didn't show any issue or bone injury," Farrell said. "The fact that the X-rays were negative, the fact that he's showing signs of improvement not only from a range standpoint, but also grip strength. Everything is moving in the right direction."
Escobar is batting .289 with nine home runs and 29 RBIs in 78 games this season.
Right-hander Jesse Litsch was scheduled to make a rehab start for Triple-A Las Vegas on Sunday night but the game was cancelled because of a power outage. The 26-year-old will start Monday night instead and then likely will make another appearance Saturday before being reevaluated.