Blue Jays send slumping Thames to Triple-A
McCoy recalled as left fielder given 'a breather' in Minor Leagues
TORONTO -- Eric Thames' prolonged struggles at the plate resulted in a trip to Triple-A Las Vegas on Tuesday morning.
Thames, who spent the vast majority of the season as Toronto's starting left fielder, was optioned to the Minor Leagues to make room for utility player Mike McCoy.
The 25-year-old Thames posted a .327 average on April 27, but he hit .196 (18-for-92) with six extra-base hits in the following 28 games.
"We feel like there's a better hitter in there on a regular basis," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "It has nothing to do with a lack of effort, lack of work -- he's extremely diligent in that area.
"But at the same time, we felt like it was a chance to get to him on a little bit more of a roll and consistent with what he has shown in the past and the way he is capable of swinging the bat. We felt like it was a time to give him a bit of a breather."
Thames beat out Travis Snider for the starting job in left field during Spring Training, but the first two months of the season didn't go exactly as planned. The second-year player at times appeared visibly frustrated on the field as the slump continued, and he struck out during almost a third of his at-bats in the past month.
Farrell said it was the club's hope that the demotion would be a short-term thing, and that Thames would be able to regain the stroke that saw him hit 12 homers in 95 games last season with Toronto.
Snider is currently at the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla., rehabbing an injured right wrist, but it wasn't clear how soon he would be able to return to action. That limits the Blue Jays' options in left and results in fourth outfielder Rajai Davis being promoted to a starting gig.
"There's a very energetic and a hard-driving personality and I think that a lot of that self-expectation, which drives him in a good way, can maybe prevent a guy to relax and let his abilities to come out," Farrell said of Thames. "I think he was really starting to press."
McCoy provides insurance in case second baseman Kelly Johnson or shortstop Yunel Escobar need some rest. Both infielders were in the lineup on Tuesday night against the Orioles but have been dealing with leg injuries in recent days.
The 31-year-old McCoy also will act as the club's backup outfielder. His overall versatility will give Farrell more options off the bench. McCoy hit .198 in 80 games with the Blue Jays last season and can play all positions except catcher and first base.