No one likes to be told they are not good enough - least of all a professional athlete whose continued employment is determined by performance between the lines once the game is under way.
This is why it was such a long haul for Lyle Overbay last season, when he found out the Toronto Blue Jays plans on platooning him at first base against left-handed pitchers.
Not that you could blame manager Cito Gaston for the rationale behind his decision.
Overbay, a left-handed hitter, has flat out struggled against left-handed pitching. (Besides, the Blue Jays had Kevin Millar hanging around in 2009, and Gaston had to find something for him to do.)
This season, the Blue Jays told Overbay the first-base job was his full-time, come hell or high water or John Danks, the tough left-handed pitcher the Chicago White Sox sent out to the mound for last night's game.
True to Gaston's word, there was Overbay in the starting lineup, notwithstanding a frightening .100 batting average through Toronto's first eight games this season against lefties and righties combined.
Overbay would have been wise to request a gimme on this one - along with the rest of the Blue Jays starters - as the White Sox (4-5) crushed Toronto (6-3) 11-1 to give Chicago a 2-1 lead in the four-game set that will conclude tonight.
The one plus for Toronto was that only 10,610 were on hand to witness the slaughter - the smallest baseball crowd in the history of Rogers Centre.
Danks was dominant, taking a no-hitter into the fifth inning, before it was broken up by a broken-bat single by Randy Ruiz. Danks threw a two-hitter in seven innings of work, allowing the lone Toronto run while striking out six.
The hitting hero was Carlos Quentin, whose grand slam home run off shaky Toronto starter Brandon Morrow in the fifth inning broke the game wide open. Quentin finished two hits and six runs batted-in.
Morrow was unimpressive, getting stung for seven runs off eight hits, ballooning his earned-run average to an even 12.00 in two starts.
Overbay remained true to form - going 0-for-4 - and realizes he will have to pick up the pace with the bat if he is to hold the manager's trust.
"I feel like this is an opportunity I've been waiting for and I want to take advantage of it," he said before the game. "And I'm struggling and I'm frustrated.
"For Cito to say this is it, keep going and sticking with it, it's one less thing to worry about."
Over his career, Overbay sports a .262 average against lefties - about 20 points lower than his average against right-handers. The numbers are one thing, but having to sit against lefties is akin to admitting failure - something Overbay said he is not ready to do.
"Last year, it kind of caught me off-guard," he said. "I'd never done it [platooning]before. I didn't want to accept it, it was tough on me.
"I don't think anyone ever wants to accept it."
In 2006, his first year in Toronto, Overbay was a force, batting .312 while stroking a career-high 22 homers to go along with 46 doubles.
After that he was rewarded with a four-year, $24-million (U.S.) deal by the Blue Jays, which runs out at the end of this season.
Overbay remains confident he can be the hitter he was four years ago.
"I know I can hit between .290, .300, somewhere around 20 home runs and then the 40 doubles," he said.Report Typo/Error
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