Tight right hamstring sidelines Hill
Second baseman hitting just .181 in 21 games this season
BOSTON -- The Blue Jays' initial lineup for Wednesday's game against the Red Sox included Aaron Hill's name. Manager Cito Gaston felt that a day off would not sit well with the slumping second baseman.
"He's the type of kid that I think if you did that to him, it would hurt him more than help him," Gaston explained. "If I thought it would help him, I certainly would do it."
Shortly before the game began, though, Hill was a late scratch due to tightness in his right hamstring -- the same injury that cost him two weeks on the disabled list in April. Prior to being pulled from the lineup, Hill told reporters that the injury had nothing to do with his recent struggles.
"No," Hill said bluntly.
That may have simply been Hill not willing to use the injury as an excuse.
"I think it's still there a little bit," Gaston said of the injury before the game. "But he hasn't complained about it. But that's him -- just like he wouldnt want out of the lineup."
Through 21 games this season, Hill has hit just .181 with two home runs and six RBIs. The second baseman injured his right hamstring during a diving catch in the ninth inning of an Opening Day loss to the Rangers in Texas. On Toronto's current road trip, Hill has hit just .154 (6-for-39), raising questions about his health.
It has been a drastic drop-off from last season, when Hill enjoyed a breakout campaign by hitting .286 with 36 home runs and 108 RBIs. On Wednesday, Hill was quick to recall his early woes in 2006, when he hit just .186 through May 13, but recovered by posting a .320 average over the final 122 games.
"It was very similar, and that was playing every day," Hill said. "I remember we went to Colorado and I had a couple -- and who knows, maybe my swing was getting there -- but I had a couple broken-bat hits, bloopers here, bloopers there. It's just funny how the game is when something like that can get your confidence rolling."
Hill also said his current problems at the plate have nothing to do with pitchers approaching him any different than last season.
"I don't think so, because I've had my pitches to hit," Hill said. "I've just missed them. That's the bottom line. Every day I'm getting pitches to hit and I'm just not doing it. I don't have an answer for that. If I did, I would be [getting hits].
"There's nothing different from last year other than I'm just missing balls. There's no excuses. There's nothing that I would change. It's just getting back, getting ready and [the hits] are going to come."
Ruiz gets start to give Lind day off
BOSTON -- The Blue Jays continue to look for ways to get Randy Ruiz into the lineup. On Wednesday, manager Cito Gaston gave Adam Lind a day off against Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and handed the designated hitter duties to Ruiz.
Gaston noted last weekend that he wants to work Ruiz into the mix a couple times each week, meaning first baseman Lyle Overbay or Lind could receive more days off. Another option is giving an outfielder a day off and playing Lind in left field during games that Ruiz works as the DH.
"I spoke to [Lind] and Overbay," Gaston said. "I actually said that once in a while I'll give them a day off so I can get Ruiz in there once in a while. It might not be that way all the time."
The day off may have come at a good time for Lind, who has hit just .086 (3-for-35) over the first nine games of the Blue Jays' current 10-game road trip. With a team off-day on Thursday, Lind will have two days to rest before Toronto's upcoming homestand.
Encarnacion to man third base when healthy
BOSTON -- Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston acknowledged on Wednesday that Edwin Encarnacion would likely assume the starting job at third base when he is ready to be activated from the disabled list.
"Probably so," Gaston said. "You've got to remember, he's another guy that takes home a pretty good paycheck, too."
Encarnacion -- sidelined since April 15 with a sore right shoulder -- is under contract for $4.75 million and is eligible for free agency after this season. The Blue Jays acquired Encarnacion from the Reds as part of the July 31 deal that sent third baseman Scott Rolen to Cincinnati last season.
While Encarnacion has been on the DL, right fielder Jose Bautista has filled in nicely at third base, while Fred Lewis and Travis Snider have performed well as Toronto's left and right fielders, respectively. Encarnacion is expected to be ready to return within the next two weeks and Gaston is not sure how the lineup will be altered.
"I don't know yet," Gaston said. "We don't know what were going to do with that. Hopefully it works itself out some kind of way. It's going to be interesting."
Jays reportedly closed to deal with Cardona
BOSTON -- The Blue Jays are reportedly close to an agreement with Venezuelan right-hander Adonis Cardono, though general manager Alex Anthopoulos would not confirm that a deal was in the works.
"I don't know what report you're talking about," Anthopoulos said.
Anthopoulos' response was not unexpected, considering Cardona is not eligible to sign a formal contract until July 2, which is the signing date for international free agents who turn 16 years old this summer. One report indicated that Cardona's contract with the Jays could be worth around $2.8 million.
"Anybody who's eligible for July 2," Anthopoulos said, "those are all players that you can't have any agreements with until July 2. We scout a lot of players, but I don't get into specifics."
Right-hander Jesse Litsch, who is on the 60-day disabled list while he recovers from a right elbow injury, made his first Minor League rehab start on Tuesday for Class A Dunedin. Litsch worked seven shutout innings, giving up four hits and ending with five strikeouts and two walks. Barring any setbacks, Litsch could be ready to return to the Jays by early June. ... First-base prospect Brett Wallace went 4-for-6 with two doubles and four RBIs on Tuesday for Triple-A Las Vegas. Wallace, acquired from the A's as part of the four-team Roy Halladay trade over the winter, leads the Jays' Minor League system in hits (40), home runs (10), RBIs (30) and slugging percentage (.633). ... The Jays had four players (Alex Gonzalez, Vernon Wells, John Buck and Jose Bautista) with at least seven home runs through their first 34 games. They are the eighth American League team since 2001 to have at least four players with at least seven homers through that many games.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.