Notes: Thomas fine-tuning his swing
The 18-year veteran is making small adjustments early
TORONTO -- Hours before game time on Wednesday, Frank Thomas stepped up to the plate and diligently worked through an array of batting-practice fastballs.
To the right of Toronto's designated hitter stood hitting coach Mickey Brantley, leaning on the batting cage and carefully analyzing every swing. After each crack of the bat, Thomas would turn to Brantley, and the coach would describe what he saw.
"All he wants is information," said Brantley, who is Thomas' third hitting coach in as many seasons. "He'll ask, 'What happened on that swing? What happened on this swing?'"
Thomas went to Brantley and requested the early hitting session in order to work out a few minor kinks in mechanics. That Jays coach understands that the last thing he needs to do is be a teacher for a veteran like Thomas, who is in his 18th Major League season.
So Brantley simply takes on the role of an observer, letting Thomas know what is visibly wrong with his swing. Once Thomas obtains that information, Brantley trusts that the slugger understands how to correct any flaws.
"I can tell him what I see," Brantley said. "That's all he's looking for. Guys who have been around a long time have kind of figured out what they need to do and where they need to be. So I just try to get on the same page through dialogue."
"Mick's been great," Thomas said. "He's very positive and that's what every hitter needs. I try to keep my same approach every year. Mickey and I are working on some things right now. Our terminology is coming together."
Right now, Thomas is "getting beat" by some fastballs. The 6-foot-5 DH is setting his front foot down a little too late during his stride, which forces him to rush the remainder of his swing in order to catch up to pitches. Through seven games, Thomas was hitting .259 with one home run and four RBIs.
"I'm just getting set a little late," Thomas explained. "I'm just not getting back in that squat position like I normally do and I'm getting a little too aggressive.
"I don't need to get discouraged. I've been here a million times. I just have to get more selective at the plate."
Pep talk: Before Toronto manager John Gibbons pulled Josh Towers from the game Tuesday night, he spoke for several seconds with the starter on the mound. Gibbons simply wanted to tell Towers, who allowed three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, that he was pleased with his performance.
"I told him he battled. He kept us in the game. 'Don't hang your head on that one,'" Gibbons said. "I've got no complaints about that. If he pitches like that he'll win some games. We need him."
Streaking: Right fielder Alex Rios is the only Toronto hitter with at least one hit in each of the team's first seven games. Rios, who carried a .323 average into Wednesday's game, was tied with six players for the longest current hitting streak in the American League.
Minor matters: On Tuesday, right-hander Dustin McGowan gave up one earned run and struck out nine in five innings for Triple-A Syracuse. The Chiefs still lost, 3-1, to Charlotte. ... Left-hander Ricky Romero, who was Toronto's No. 1 pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, gave up four runs on seven hits in 4 1/3 innings for Double-A New Hampshire in his season debut.
The countdown: Entering Wednesday, Thomas sat 12 homers shy of 500 for his career, and five homers behind Fred McGriff and Lou Gehrig for 21st on the all-time list with 493.
Stat machine: The Blue Jays bullpen entered Wednesday's contest against the Royals riding a streak of 12 1/3 innings without allowing an earned run.
Quotable: "I just don't want to get off to a bad April. I'm at the point right now where I really want to hit that big bomb, but I've got to stop that. I've got to get back to hitting line drives." --Thomas
Coming up: Toronto right-hander Tomo Ohka (0-0, 10.38 ERA) is slated to take the hill when the Blue Jays host the Tigers in the opening tilt of a four-game series at 7:07 p.m. ET on Thursday at Rogers Centre. Detroit will counter with left-hander Mike Maroth (1-0, 7.20 ERA).
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.