Blue Jays manager John Gibbons decided to start Juan Francisco at third base in last night’s interleague matchup against the Pirates while moving Brett Lawrie over to second base. It’s not an ideal alignment from a defensive perspective, but he’s trying to keep Francisco’s bat in the lineup with the designated hitter unavailable.
While Gibbons’ reasoning is understandable, Lawrie didn’t sound thrilled about the temporary position switch when talking with John Lott of the National Post:
“I’m a third baseman,” he said. “I’m not a third base/second base type of guy. I’m a third baseman and that’s my position.
“I’m not necessarily going over thinking I’m going to be Chase Utley tonight. I’m going to try to make the routine play and try to roll a double play if we can. It’s for the team and if we can get an extra bat in there and it gives us a chance to win, then that’s what it has to be.”
Of course, Lawrie originally began his pro career as a second baseman in the Brewers minor league system before making the move over to the hot corner. He played six games at second base last season after the Blue Jays were hit hard with injuries.
The Pirates will send left-hander Francisco Liriano to the hill later today, so Francisco should sit while Lawrie will be back at third base. However, we’ll likely see Lawrie at second base again on Sunday with right-hander Edinson Volquez slated to pitch in the series finale.
Manager Bud Black has tabbed Jon Gray to start on Opening Day for the Rockies. That will be Monday, April 3 in Milwaukee against the Brewers in an afternoon contest.
Gray, 25, is starting Opening Day for the first time in his career. He’ll be the sixth different Rockies pitcher to start Opening Day in as many years.
The Rockies and Gray had a bit of a scare on Friday as he left his spring training start with discomfort in his left foot, but everything came up clean in an MRI. He pitched again on Wednesday with no issue.
Last season, Gray went 10-10 with a 4.61 ERA and a 185/59 K/BB ratio in 168 innings. A consensus top prospect entering each of the previous three seasons, Gray surprisingly put up better numbers at Coors Field — the most hitter-friendly park in baseball — than away.
Today Washington Nationals manager Dusty Baker named Blake Treinen as his closer. Treinen has saved exactly one big league game.
There wasn’t necessarily an obvious choice, however. Last year Washington had Mark Melancon, but with him gone and GM Mike Rizzo’s failure to land a high-profile closer in the offseason, it became a contest between Treinen Shawn Kelley and Koda Glover.
Treinen posted a 2.28 ERA with 31 walks and 63 Ks in 67 innings in 2016. His big improvement last year came against lefties, who had tattooed him in the past. He pitched well this spring as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
The Nats are our favorites to win the NL East, but we do have some questions about the pen. Blake Treinen will take the first crack at answering them.