9/2/2013 10:21 P.M. ET
Hill faces Blue Jays for first time since trade
By Tyler Emerick / MLB.com
PHOENIX -- Drafted by Toronto with the 13th overall pick of the 2003 Draft, Aaron Hill became a mainstay with the Blue Jays during his seven years manning second base at the Rogers Centre. Now more than two full seasons after the organization traded him, along with John McDonald, to the desert in 2011 for Kelly Johnson, Hill finally got the chance to play against his former team for the first time, with the Blue Jays in town for a three-game set in Arizona.
"It's been a couple years, and a lot of those guys are gone, but there are still some guys that I developed great relationships with while I was there," Hill said before Monday's series opener, referring to the likes of Adam Lind and J.P. Arencibia. "I'm looking forward to see them, but we still have to focus on winning some ballgames here as we try and make a late push."
Although Hill's time with the Blue Jays ended rather tumultuously -- he hit a combined .213 in his final two seasons with the club -- the 31-year-old still cherishes his time spent in Toronto, his first adopted home.
"That was the only organization that I knew, and they treated me and my family wonderfully," Hill said. "It's a great city. I have nothing but good things to say. You wish them luck throughout the season until you're playing them. It's a great city, big city, had a lot of great times there. A lot of great memories."
Hill's best campaign in a Blue Jay uniform came in 2009, when he was named an All-Star, won his first Silver Slugger Award and took home the American League Comeback Player of the Year honor in a season in which he slugged 36 homers and tallied 108 RBIs. In all, Hill ranks 19th in franchise history in games played with 875, 18th in homers with 96 and 15th in RBIs with 409.
"Aaron Hill is an all-time Blue Jay; he's one of the best," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He was a really good player in Toronto for a number of years, but sometimes you need a new look; that's not uncommon in baseball. Bottom line, though, is he's been a good player his whole career. He's very talented, and I know they love him over here."
They certainly do. Hill has thrived in Arizona, batting a combined .305 since being traded and signing a contract extension that will keep him with the club through the 2016 campaign.
Toronto callups include four pitchers, catcher
PHOENIX -- With the Triple-A Buffalo season concluding Monday, the Blue Jays said they would bring five players from the Bison roster to join the club in Arizona. Pitchers Kyle Drabek, Luis Perez, Ricky Romero and Jeremy Jeffress, along with catcher Mike Nickeas, will be available Tuesday for Toronto's second game against the D-backs.
All of the players except for Drabek must be added to the 40-man roster. The Blue Jays will announce the corresponding moves Tuesday.
While it is customary for Major League teams to call up a third catcher in September, the four pitchers' roles moving forward are undetermined.
"We're not sure yet, but they will all pitch," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said when asked if the callups would get a chance to start or join the bullpen. "We're a little bit beat up down there, so we need some reinforcements. We'll get them in."
Drabek has pitched in three seasons for the Blue Jays, most recently making 13 starts for the club last year, going 4-7 with a 4.67 ERA. In his first action back from Tommy John surgery, the right-hander worked 43 Minor League innings in 2013 between three levels and posted a 3.14 ERA.
Romero is a veteran of five seasons in Toronto, but after finishing 15-11 with a 2.92 ERA in 2011, he went 9-14 last year with a 5.77 ERA in 32 starts. He has appeared in two games for the Blue Jays in 2013, giving up six runs in 4 1/3 innings. Romero is 5-8 with a 5.52 ERA in the Minors this year.
Encarnacion likely to stay at first vs. D-backs
PHOENIX -- Without the benefit of the designated-hitter spot this week in Arizona, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Monday he expected Edwin Encarnacion to get most of the time at first base in the series against the D-backs and use Adam Lind off the bench.
"Two middle-of-the-order hitters for us, and one of them has got to sit; it's probably going to be Lind," Gibbons said. "He'll be available to pinch-hit in certain situations, and hopefully he does a good job there. If push comes to shove and a double-switch situation comes, we can always move Encarnacion around, maybe to third. So there are some options, there are ways to do it."
For what it's worth, Encarnacion, who got the start Monday at first, has experienced plenty of success playing at Chase Field in his career, albeit in a small sample size. Entering the series opener, Encarnacion had tallied six homers and nine RBIs in just 12 games at the ballpark.
"He hits them anywhere, but I'm sure he's feeling good coming in here," Gibbons said. "Hitters get excited about that when they know the ball flies."
Bautista's return rides on doctor's approval
PHOENIX -- On the shelf since Aug. 21 with a bone bruise in his left hip, Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista flew to New York City on Monday for a medical evaluation of the injury.
"They'll look at it and check out his progress," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's feeling better, though."
Although Toronto is optimistic that Bautista can rejoin the club before the season ends, the Blue Jays are not rushing anything and will wait to hear the results from the doctor's appointment before determining what is next.
"We hope so, but we'll have a better idea in the next couple days after he sees the doctor," Gibbons said. "We still have a month left, but once he gets cleared to go, he's got to get back into baseball stuff."
Before the injury, Bautista was hitting .259 with 28 homers, 73 RBIs and an .856 on-base plus slugging percentage.
• With Triple-A Buffalo's season ending Monday, the Blue Jays could be adding a few more players to their expanded roster in the coming days.
"We'll see," Gibbons said. "Most of the guys that are going to be coming up are pitchers. We might bring a couple up by Wednesday's game; we'll see. Probably not tomorrow, though."
• Rehabbing his oblique injury in Florida, Colby Rasmus is still trying to return this year.
"He's moving around better, but it's a little slower than we expected," Gibbons said.
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.