Jays know Snider's power will come
Young outfielder finds time in leadoff spot while developing
TORONTO -- Throughout his entire career, Blue Jays outfielder Travis Snider has been groomed as a middle-of-the-order-type talent, a guy with extreme power potential who could one day blossom into an offensive star.
While the growing pains have not been particularly easy to overcome for the 22-year-old, who entered Tuesday with a respectable 19 home runs over 491 career at-bats, manager Cito Gaston continues to preach patience, maintaining his belief that Snider will develop into the masher the organization envisioned when it drafted him 14th overall in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft.
"If everything comes the way we think it's going to come with him, with the power that he has, [he will eventually bat in the heart of the lineup]," Gaston said. "He certainly has turned out to be a good left fielder. If he turns out to be who we think he's going to be, he's going to be one of those guys who should hit in the middle of the lineup."
Although Snider has not yet reached that stage in his progression, Gaston, for the sixth time this year, started Snider in the leadoff spot on Tuesday against the Yankees. As was expected with Snider's return from the disabled list on July 30, regular leadoff man Fred Lewis has found himself conceding playing time to allow the youngster to develop.
Snider, who normally bats at the bottom of the order, does not fit the mold of the prototypical leadoff hitter. In fact, even he has been surprised by the occasional shift to the top of the lineup.
"I don't know about the future, but then again, you never really know how things are going to work out," said Snider about seeing more playing time in the leadoff spot. "I'm happy to be in there, whether it's in the one-hole or the nine-hole. As I've said, I don't have to change my approach a whole lot in that spot in the batting order, even though there are ways that people think you should go about it.
"The message from the organization, Cito and [hitting coach] Dwayne Murphy has been the same thing -- get a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it. Don't worry about taking pitches or trying to go the other way with things and be like some of the other leadoff hitters in the league."
As for whether Snider feels he could hit regularly in the middle of a big league lineup?
"I've hit in the middle of the order my entire life until I got to this level," Snider said. "I haven't lost any confidence in that ability. But with the way things are right now, my focus and concentration are on being a leadoff hitter or an eight or nine hitter. When the situations come out during the game when you have the opportunity to drive in runs, you want to make the most of those opportunities."
Rest key to Morrow's fastball velocity
TORONTO -- Blue Jays starting pitcher Brandon Morrow looked like his old self in Monday's 3-2 win over the Yankees.
On five days of rest, Morrow went six innings, allowing two runs while striking out 12 batters. His velocity was consistently around 95 mph, providing the Blue Jays with relief that his previous start, on Aug. 17 in Anaheim, was just an aberration.
Given an eight-day breather before his start against the Angels -- an attempt to preserve his arm after a 137-pitch one-hitter against the Rays on Aug. 8 -- Morrow lasted only four innings opposite the Halos, surrendering two runs. What was most disconcerting about the outing was that his velocity was maxing out around just 90 mph -- a common sign of dead arm.
Morrow said that he had no explanation for the return of his control and velocity on Monday night.
"I'm not going to compare it to anything, but I felt better this week than I did last week, regardless of whatever rest I had," Morrow said. "I had better stuff, and I made better pitches."
On five days' rest this season, Morrow has posted a 3-2 record with a 2.17 ERA over 58 innings. In contrast, the right-hander sports a 6.40 ERA over 52 innings with four days' rest and a 5.27 ERA over 27 1/3 frames with six or more days to recover.
Escobar's ejection puzzles Gaston
TORONTO -- After flying out to end of the fifth inning during Monday night's 3-2 victory over the Yankees, Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar trotted from roughly midway down the first-base line to field his position.
On his way across the diamond, meeting a teammate to pick up his glove, Ecobar began exchanging words with home-plate umpire Jerry Meals. In what felt like a split-second confrontation, Meals pointed his index finger in the air and ejected Escobar from the ballgame.
While it remains uncertain what exactly was said to prompt the ejection, Jays manager Cito Gaston, who was tossed shortly thereafter, was upset that he wasn't given the chance to defend Escobar.
"Absolutely, throw me out -- let him play," Gaston said. "I just couldn't get there quick enough."
Gaston has been ejected three times over the past two years against the Yankees.
"I don't like getting thrown out of games, because you feel like you're getting sent to your room," Gaston said. "I don't like that.
"I don't do it to motivate the team. It's hard to motivate players on this level -- they should be motivated. If you have to motivate somebody every day, they shouldn't be here. They should be motivating themselves."
Blue Jays pitching prospect Kyle Drabek worked seven scoreless innings for Double-A New Hampshire on Monday, striking out a career-high nine batters. With 14 wins, Drabek trails only Gustavo Chacin, who had 16 victories in 2004 to set the Fisher Cats record. ... Over his past six games entering Tuesday, Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay was batting .412 with one double, three home runs, six walks and 10 RBIs, having reached base safely in 13 of his past 21 plate appearances.
James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.