TORONTO -- Yunel Escobar has had a rough first month to the season, and Blue Jays manager John Farrell said he thinks he knows what's contributing to it.
"There are times he will really bend over -- you will see that front shoulder get really turned in, so when he tries to execute the swing, he pulls out of it and that's where you see all those ground balls to shortstop," Farrell said. "When he's right, he's hitting those line drives to right-center field or straight-away right, so we're trying to get him back to that."
Escobar entered Monday's contest against Texas with the second-lowest on-base percentage (.267) and lowest slugging percentage (.286) among all starters on the Blue Jays. What's particularly troubling with Escobar's inability to get on base is that he's the leadoff man.
Last season, Farrell had considered moving his shortstop to the middle of the order based on the way he was swinging the bat, but it looks like he will ride it out with Escobar batting leadoff for the near future.
"I've thought about it, yes, but no change is imminent," Farrell said, when asked if he would consider moving Escobar down in the lineup. "One of the things we look at in the top third of the order, top two guys particularly, is on-base percentage and Yunel has taken some time to work out his swing and create a consistent path. He's very well aware what we value in that position and that is to get on base first and foremost, which he did an outstanding job for us a year ago. We're working with him to try to get back to that."
Escobar, which Farrell made sure to reference, led all Major League shortstops in walks last season and had the highest on-base percentage at the position in the American League.
Farrell also said that Escobar is chasing pitches out of the zone, which is not uncommon for a player who's experiencing a prolonged slump.
"Sometimes guys get into the those stretches where they might not be as confident, so they get a little anxious and maybe not trust their own abilities," Farrell said. "So when they get a pitch they feel is a decent strike, they might offer at a pitcher's pitch early in the count, rather than trusting they will get another pitch on the plate in the sequence."
Escobar was riding a four-game hit streak entering Monday, but was batting just .224 on the year.
Jays Care auction raises over $100,000
TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays, in conjunction with TD Canada, held a live auction during the Sportsnet broadcast of Monday's game on exclusive experiences and collections of memorabilia. Fans placed bids on a number of prizes, and the proceeds will help the Jays Care Foundation's various programs and initiatives.
In total, $116,890 was raised for children and youth in need across Canada and TD Canada kicked in $25,000 to kickstart the fourth annual auction.
"This trumped our previous numbers," said Danielle Bedasse, executive director of the Jays Care Foundation. "Last year we were at about $89,000. Our fans have come to kind of expect this. We get a lot of people asking about the date in the offseason.
"We are looking forward to putting the money back to good use across the country for kids programs."
The largest auction bid was for a luncheon with J.P. Arencibia, Ricky Romero and Brett Lawrie. Rhonda Polak, from Edmonton, Alberta, won with a bid of $8,500.
Some of the other top prizes included pitching lessons from Romero, trips to New York City and an opportunity to meet Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar.
There were 10 total prizes and the final bids on the items ranged from $2,800 to $8,500.
Rangers' lineup is test for young Blue Jays
TORONTO -- Blue Jays pitchers are facing a major test against a Rangers lineup that is one the best in the Majors. Kyle Drabek started the opener and 21-year-old rookie Drew Hutchison draws Tuesday's assignment, but manager John Farrell has plenty of faith in his two talented right-handers.
"This is notoriously a strong offensive team, they have a number of weapons," Farrell said. "I feel like Kyle is more prepared and equipped this year through the first four starts he's made than last year, and that's part of a normal progression for him or any young player. It will be a good test.
"We are [sending] out two very young pitchers in the next two nights, but they're our guys and we have trust and confidence in them. I think they will get a very clear read on where they stack up with what, at least in the American League at this point in time in the year, the best has to offer."
Entering Monday, the Rangers had scored the most runs in the Majors, were one of only two teams with an OPS above .800 and their 34 homers ranked second in the game, which isn't good news for the Blue Jays.
Toronto has allowed more long balls than any team in baseball, and its pitching staff is tied with the Twins for the most home runs surrendered overall.
Farrell is impressed with how his rotation has started the season, so while he respects the Rangers' lineup, he won't adjust his normal game plan against them. Toronto's skipper is confident his starters will do just fine and says that they have been feeding off one another each outing. Blue Jays starters have worked at least five innings in 24 consecutive starts dating back to last Sept. 27, and only the White Sox have a longer active streak in the Majors.
"To get off to a start where guys are going into the sixth, seventh, eighth inning, I think guys begin to watch others go out and do that and that becomes kind of the mindset as we set out in Spring Training that we set out to create," Farrell said. "But when others actually go out and do it, it's a living example and proof that this is what we're trying to create with every one of our starters.
"I'm confident we'll be prepared and we'll play with a lot of energy as we do every night. We have our hands full, that's a given, but I like our team and I like where we're at right now."
Crawford inspiring confidence in rookie year
TORONTO -- Rookie Evan Crawford is building his manager's trust, something evidenced during Toronto's series-closing victory against the Mariners on Sunday.
When John Farrell pulled starter Henderson Alvarez in the seventh inning of Sunday's game, he turned to the lefty. It's becoming clear Farrell is trusting his reliever in high-leverage situations, regardless of the lineup he's facing.
"That kind of shows that if there is depth to your bullpen, then you've got opportunities to win games when some other guys need days down, and that was certainly the case Sunday," Farrell said.
Farrell continues to speak very highly of Crawford, and he's giving him reasons to continue, as he's yet to allow a run over four appearances.
Although Farrell said that Crawford will be used more often when some of his other veteran arms are unavailable because of frequent use, he's doing everything he can to warrant more action.
Chris Toman is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.