The demotion of starting left fielder Eric Thames to the ranks of Triple-A should be considered a short-term assignment, Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell said on Tuesday.
But long-term, Farrell said it is important for Travis Snider to get back to 100-per-cent healthy to be able to eventually challenge for a spot on the big league roster.
“To create additional options internally, we’ve got to get Travis Snider back healthy, first and foremost, to get into that mix and to be a potential option going forward,” Farrell said. “ I can tell you this, ideally [left field} becomes your productive left-handed bat, to give us some additional balance to attack good right-handed pitching.”
Both Snider and Thames hit left-handed but it was Thames who won out in spring training for the starting job in left field.
Snider was sent down to Triple-A in Las Vegas where he was once again turning heads with his bat, hitting .400 late into April when he injured his right wrist.
It is an injury he is still trying to recover from, currently receiving treatment in Florida.
Thames has mostly struggled with the bat this season, hitting .243 on the year with just three home runs.
The month of May has not been kind with Thames hitting just .193 and his outfield defence has also been nothing to write home about.
With the Blue Jays in need of some additional infield backup what with Kelly Johnson and Yunel Escobar both on the limp with nagging injuries, the Blue Jays optioned Thames to Las Vegas on Tuesday.
In his place the American League club recalled veteran utility player Mike McCoy, who can back up at both shortstop and second base and also in the outfield.
The move will also see more playing time in left field for Rajai Davis, whose speed is an asset the Blue Jays covet.
Farrell said the club just felt like it was time to give Thames a bit of a breather.
“We feel like there’s a better hitter in there on a regular basis,” Farrell said. “This has nothing to do with lack of effort, lack of work. He’s extremely diligent in that area. And yet at the same time it felt like a chance to get him down and get him on a little bit more of a role, and consistent with what he’s shown in the past.”
Farrell said the move, for the time being, allows him to field what he considers to be the best unit, taking into account both offence and defence, moving forward.
“As we mentioned to Eric when we met with him after the game last night, we fully anticipate this to be a short term situation because we fully believe that there’s a hitter of increased production that exists there,” Farrell said.