Notes: Hill set for switch to short
Infielder prepared to return to college position if needed
TORONTO -- Aaron Hill says that playing shortstop is just like "riding a bike." He feels he's chalked up enough experience in his career at the position that a potential switch from second base wouldn't present much of a problem. The bike is currently on its side, but Hill may have to hop back on it in the near future.
The Blue Jays are considering moving Hill from his full-time second base duties to shortstop -- the position he played during his college days at Lousiana State and then in Toronto's farm system. This season, he took over at second for Orlando Hudson, who was traded to Arizona in the offseason, and has been a solid replacement.
Russ Adams, who served as the Jays' regular shortstop last year and for 36 games this season, is down at Triple-A working on becoming a second baseman. Toronto optioned him down on Wednesday after he continued to struggle with throwing accuracy (nine of his 10 errors came on throws). Adams played some second base at University of North Carolina, but not once in the big leagues.
"There's times when you have to make adjustments on the run," said Brian Butterfield, Toronto's third-base coach and infield instructor. "One of the things that we have -- that we think is a bonus -- is we have people that have position versatility."
The concept of having Hill, who is praised by the Jays for having good arm strength, and Adams switch spots up the middle isn't an idea that just arose. According to Butterfield, Toronto has discussed the issue before.
"We've had meetings," Butterfield said. "We've talked about both players playing both positions, but that's as far as it's gone."
Now, it could go a step further with Hill working ground balls at shortstop back into his pregame routine. The 24-year-old said he's willing to accept whatever role Toronto asks of him -- so far, that's included stints at third base, short and second.
"This year, my mind was at second because that's what they told me," Hill said. "I've had a good time and I've gotten accustomed to it. If they think, 'Hey, we've changed our minds and we want you to be a shortstop now,' then I'll change my mindframe."
Hill adapted quickly to the multiple position changes he was forced to make as a rookie in 2005, but Butterfield wasn't sure how long it would take the young infielder to get accustomed again to the differences in the throwing and footwork techniques at shortstop.
"I dont even know -- a lot of it depends on the athlete," Butterfield said. "If he goes over there right now and starts taking ground balls at another position and he says, 'I'm good to go,' then maybe we run him out there."
A phone call away: On Friday, Hill spoke with his good friend Adams about his first game with Triple-A Syracuse. Adams went 2-for-2 with two singles, two walks and he started at second base, where he didn't have any issues.
"I talked to him last night. He had a great game yesterday," Hill said. "I'm not worried about him at all and from talking to him, I know he's not worried either."
One of the reasons that Hill doesn't seem too concerned about Adams is the way that the Jays' former shortstop handled his demotion.
"Like anybody, a part of you is a little mad, but in a good way," said Hill, referring to Adams. "That's a motivation for you to, in a sense, prove them wrong -- that I can do this. He's got that attitude and he's got a great attitude about everything. He's a great ballplayer and he'll be back up here before you know it."
A short stint: Also on Friday, Troy Glaus made his first-ever start at shortstop in the Majors. Toronto's regular third baseman hadn't appeared in a game at short since 2002 and he's only made 11 career appearances at the position.
In the win over the White Sox, Glaus had two assists and one putout while playing short. He moved back to third base in the eighth inning.
"I felt good. It's been a while, but as the game went on I started feeling more comfortable," Glaus said on Friday. "The game started slowing down a little bit and I was remembering what I needed to do and when I needed to do it. It felt good once I got into a groove."
Streaking: Right fielder Alex Rios entered Saturday's game leading the Majors with a .364 batting average and a 12-game hitting streak. In the first inning against the White Sox, he pulled a pitch from Chicago starter Jose Contreras into left field to extend his streak to a career-high 13 games. His current streak is also the longest this year for the Blue Jays. Rios has put together three separate hitting streaks of nine games or more this season. On Friday, he belted his 10th home run, which tied his career high set in 2005.
Quotable: "I saw Troy do it yesterday, so I can pick up a few pointers from him." --Hill, joking about Glaus playing shortstop on Friday
Coming up: Toronto right-hander Ty Taubenheim (0-1, 5.40 ERA) will take on Chicago righty Jon Garland (3-2, 6.12 ERA) when the Blue Jays host the White Sox in the finale of a three-game set at 1:07 p.m. ET on Sunday at Rogers Centre.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.