KANSAS CITY -- Given the severity of Yunel Escobar's first-half slump with the Braves, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston and hitting coach Dwayne Murphy figured they might need to work with Toronto's newly acquired shortstop on some swing adjustments.
Gaston and Murphy felt it was best to watch Escobar at the plate for a while before offering any suggestions. So far, Gaston has seen little to change, considering Escobar is suddenly wielding a hot bat with his new club.
"Murph and I agreed, right now, just leave him alone," Gaston said. "Let him go on his own. He's done a good job so far."
In his first three games with the Jays, who acquired Escobar in a five-player trade with the Braves last week, the shortstop went 6-for-13 with one home run (a grand slam in Sunday's 10-1 win over the Orioles) and five RBIs. Escobar, who hit .238 with no homers in the first half, has also brought some versatility to the top of Toronto's lineup.
"He does," said Gaston, who placed Escobar in the No. 2 spot of the order. "One thing you can keep in mind is he walks, too. He pretty much gets a decent pitch when he's up there most of the time. We can probably put runners in motion a little bit more with him up there in situations, because he's not going to strike out that much."
In the first inning on Monday against the Royals, Escobar reached base with a bunt single. It marked his second such base hit since joining the Jays, who have rarely bunted under Gaston. In the third inning, Escobar launched a two-run home run, showing he can use either power or small ball to contribute.
"It's a bit strange for us seeing a guy bunting," Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells said with a smile. "We'll get used to it. "I think he'll be able to do a lot of different things, especially hitting in the two hole with [Fred Lewis] continuing to swing the bat like he's swinging. It allows him to kind of use his whole game once he gets to the plate."
Marcum may miss next start due to blister
KANSAS CITY -- The Blue Jays are not sure if right-hander Shaun Marcum will be able to make his scheduled start on Friday in Detroit. Marcum developed a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand during his outing against the Orioles on Sunday.
"We don't know," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said on Monday at Kauffman Stadium. "At this point in time, we don't know. Maybe we'll know a little bit more tomorrow, but I'm not sure."
Marcum, who was making his first start after a stint on the 15-day disabled list with a minor arm issue, was pulled from the game after throwing 83 pitches over five innings in Baltimore. Marcum was working with a limit of 80-85 pitches, so he was not removed solely due to the blister.
"He barely got through that last inning," Gaston said. "[The blister] actually probably started bugging him [in the fourth] inning ... but he never told anybody. We started to notice it probably the last couple outs."
If Marcum is unable to make his next start as planned, Gaston said lefty Brian Tallet would be the top candidate currently on the roster for a spot start. The manager added that using right-hander Brandon Morrow is not being considered. Toronto is having Morrow skip one start this week in order to ease his innings load.
Buck motivated after Royals let him leave
KANSAS CITY -- When the Royals decided to part ways with John Buck over the offseason, the catcher used it as a source of motivation. Buck felt forced out of Kansas City and was determined to prove them wrong while wearing a Blue Jays uniform.
"We didn't really want to leave," Buck said on Monday in his first trip back to Kansas City since signing with Toronto. "But the business part of it took over and I kind of got shipped out of here. We didn't really have a choice."
Did he feel the Royals gave up on him?
"It was just baseball," Buck said. "I kind of took it as, 'All right, there's going to be a new opportunity somewhere.' It's baseball. It happens so much, but there was that part of me that said, 'OK, I'll show you.'"
Roughly an hour after Buck learned that he was not being offered a contract by the Royals for the 2010 season, his agent called him and said there were a few other general managers who had interest. The catcher weighed the offers and situations and felt Toronto presented the best scenario.
"I chose Toronto because I was wanting an opportunity to play every day," said Buck, who added that the Jays believed he could help their young pitching staff develop. "They made me feel like I was the guy that was going to make that transition happen for [the pitchers] and get the organization moving forward.
"I wanted that confidence behind me, and they seemed to show it more than some of the other teams."
Entering Monday, Buck was batting .279 with 13 home runs, 17 doubles and 43 RBIs through 73 games for the Jays. In what might be his only season with Toronto -- Buck was signed to a one-year contract and could be a candidate to be traded before the July 31 Trade Deadline -- the catcher also made his first All-Star team.
Buck said that returning to Kansas City for this series was something he and his family -- the catcher's wife and two sons are on the trip -- had been looking forward to all season.
"It's kind of weird," Buck said. "This is where we had our boys. We kind of started our family here. Really, it was like coming back home, because we were here so long and we have so many friends here that are like family.
"As soon as we got signed with the Jays, we figured out what day we were coming to K.C. and had a plan from the get-go."
When Yunel Escobar belted a grand slam for the Blue Jays on Sunday, it marked the first grand slam by a Toronto shortstop since John McDonald went deep on July 25, 2006, against Seattle. ... Escobar also became one of eight players in franchise history to have his first home run with the Blue Jays be a grand slam. The others include Kevin Millar (2009), Joe Inglett (2008), Frank Thomas (2007), Chris Gomez (2004), Dick Schofield (1994), Glenallen Hill (1989) and Rick Bosetti (1978). ... After Escobar's two-run homer on Monday, the Blue Jays had homered in a season-high 12 games in a row, launching 26 homers over that span. The last time Toronto had at least one homer in 12 straight games was July 25-Aug. 6, 2004. ... Minor League outfielder Marcus Knecht -- a native of Toronto selected by the Blue Jays in the third round in the First-Year Player Draft last month -- hit .500 (6-for-12) with three walks, two doubles, four runs scored and four RBIs in three games for Class A Auburn over the weekend. ... Double-A New Hampshire right-hander Zach Stewart allowed two runs in seven innings on Sunday, improving to 6-1 with a 2.68 ERA in nine starts since June 2.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.