TORONTO -- It has been a full two days since Ricky Romero last took the mound, but he was still a hot topic of conversation during Blue Jays manager John Farrell's pregame media scrum on Friday afternoon.
The Blue Jays are trying to find ways to help Romero turn around what has been a disappointing season to date. Romero opened the year as Toronto's No. 1 starter, but has proceeded to post a 5.75 ERA in 123 2/3 innings.
Toronto insists there is not physically wrong with Romero, nor are there any major mechanical issues that need to be worked out. In many ways, the problems Romero has experienced have more to do with the mental aspect than the physical aspect of the game.
"What I'd like to see from Ricky is just to get back to the basics," Farrell said. "Where's the tough kid from East L.A.? And just know that there's a confrontation between him and the guy in the box, and trust that he's got the upper hand, no matter what pitch is called because he's got the final say to that, and be convicted to that selection and let his natural competitiveness carry him through."
The biggest change for Romero's next outing will take place behind the plate. When he takes the mound in Seattle on Monday night, veteran Jeff Mathis will call the pitches.
It will be the first time since 2010 that Romero works with a catcher other than J.P. Arencibia. Toronto's backstop was recently placed on the 15-day disabled list with a fractured left hand, which makes Mathis the new everyday guy.
There's at least an element of hope that a new set of eyes will help Romero work through his struggles and get back to being one of the best pitchers in the American League.
"It very well could and we're -- I don't want to say anxious to see if that has any bearing -- but this will be a new matchup because of J.P.'s injury," Farrell said. "It's something that was considered previous to shake it up a little bit, but we'll see."
Farrell: Escobar not a problem in clubhouse
TORONTO -- Manager John Farrell said on Friday that there is no truth to the recent reports suggesting Yunel Escobar has been a problem in the Blue Jays' clubhouse.
A report on ESPN.com suggested that Escobar's bad reputation is having a negative impact on his market value around the league. If that's the case, it comes as news to Farrell, who said Toronto has not experienced any issues with its veteran shortstop.
"I've seen it as well," Farrell said of the report. "Unfounded as far as I'm concerned. I can't speculate, or have any understanding of where they originate from, but I did see [those] comments and again, completely unfounded."
Escobar initially developed a reputation of causing problems in the clubhouse a few years ago when he was on the Braves. He reportedly clashed with Chipper Jones and then manager Bobby Cox.
Since a midseason trade to Toronto in 2010, though, those reports had disappeared until this week. But they were once again brought up by some members of the American media as Escobar has become frequently mentioned in trade rumors prior to the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
The apparent gossip is something players have to deal with more than ever before thanks to a 24-hour news cycle and the emergence of social media in the way teams and players are covered. That has the chance to create additional turmoil, but is also one of the main reasons players are put through media training before each season.
"If a player allows it to be, it can be more distraction," Farrell said. "But that's why we've spent a lot of time in the offseason with young players -- and through Spring Training -- on media training. Once again, going back to the things that they can control. Wire reports are just that, they're wire reports, founded or unfounded."
Escobar, who is hitting .255 with six home runs and 34 RBIs, was held out of Toronto's lineup on Friday because of tightness in his lower back. He was originally cleared after going through early work at Rogers Centre, but eventually became a late scratch.
The Cuban native has now missed three consecutive games, but the Blue Jays maintain this is a relatively minor issue and not something he was dealing with earlier in the year.
Designated hitter Adam Lind was also scratched from Toronto's lineup less than 90 minutes before first pitch due to back tightness.
"This caught us by surprise a little bit," Farrell said after Friday night's 8-3 victory over Detroit. "He experienced some tightness in the mid-back, not in the same area where he suffered a year ago. During batting practice it continued to tighten up on him and clearly wasn't able to go tonight."
Bautista may begin swinging bat next week
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays are optimistic that Jose Bautista will begin swinging a bat sometime early next week.
Bautista, who is on the 15-day disabled list, has been out since spraining his left wrist on July 16 in New York. He is eligible to come off the DL on Aug. 1, but it's too early to know whether Bautista will be ready.
"Improving by the day and yet at this point not ready to put a bat in his hand," manager John Farrell said. "At the extremes of the rotation of the hand, he'll still feel a little bit of the symptoms at the end of the range of motion. We're probably looking at early next week at this point to begin dry swings."
In other injury news, right-hander Brandon Morrow threw a light bullpen session on Friday, and as expected, has been cleared to make his first rehab start for Class A Dunedin on Sunday.
Drew Hutchison threw a light-toss session for the first time since being placed on the 60-day DL in early June with a right elbow injury. He is expected to throw two days on and one day off for the foreseeable future, but there is no timetable for his return to the mound.