He was back in the lineup last night, following a conversation that likely went along the lines of: "Ready to go?"
It's not like Scott Rolen and Cito Gaston to chat at length. It's not a touchy-feely kind of thing. But about once a week the Toronto Blue Jays manager will give Rolen, his big, veteran third baseman, the day off.
He needed one - and then some - to shake the affects of a sore back late last week, but Rolen was back in the lineup last night after missing two straight starts to have a hand in the Jays' 6-3 win over the Texas Rangers in the opener of their four-game set in steamy Arlington, where it was 32.2 degrees at game time.
He made his presence felt, knocking out three hits to break an 0-for-9 drought and scoring the first of the Jays' two insurance runs in the ninth after leading off with a double and being driven home by Marco Scutaro.
The Jays (33-27) never trailed after red-hot Adam Lind counted the Jays' first four runs with two-run homers in the second and fourth innings to stake Casey Janssen (2-2) a 4-0 lead and help hang the first loss on Rangers starter Scott Feldman (5-1) this season.
"I was able put up a couple of zeroes and then watch Adam Lind hit homers," said Janssen, who enjoyed great command of his breaking ball on his way to a career-high six strikeouts.
Lind's power show - the first multi-homer game of his career and his 10th and 11th dingers of the season to go with 43 runs batted in - was enough for Janssen to get out of a wild sixth with the lead after surrendering three runs on three hits, an error and a wild pitch.
Janssen was replaced by Jason Frasor, his decision preserved after lumbering catcher Rod Barajas dove at the feet of Marlon Byrd and just got him as he scrambled back to third base after an unsuccessful squeeze bunt by Elvis Andrus.
Byrd was scored caught stealing, Barajas getting the rare unassisted putout.
Rolen's contributions were more subtle, counting the timely double to start the Jays' two-run ninth. Earlier, with the Jays leading 4-0, Janssen gave up a leadoff single and was spared any damage when Rolen somehow came up with a smash off the bat of Nelson Cruz and then calmly started a double play that proved more valuable as the game moved along.
"That was a great play," Gaston said. He's one of the best third basement I've ever been around."
Rolen was scheduled to be off on Saturday so he didn't mention the stiffness he came down with in his back on Friday night in Toronto. It was still lingering Sunday so Gaston held him out.
Rolen reported no more issues last night and was additionally relieved to be back playing on grass after the added wear and tear of the artificial turf at Rogers Centre.
Gaston has taken to resting Rolen regularly to keep him fresh so far this season.
The result has been a steady start for the 14-year year veteran as his three hits bumped his average to .304 on the year. He's still hoping for an uptick in his power numbers - his three home runs so far leave him well off the pace he managed as a regular threat for 25 or more early in his career - but playing regularly is a first step.
Janssen seemed in control in five shutout innings in his best stretch since returning from the minors in May. In the sixth, with his jersey soaked in sweat, he suddenly began getting his pitches up and the Rangers eventually forced him out in favour of Frasor, who got out of the sixth thanks to Barajas's putout. Brandon League got two outs in the eighth before Scott Downs finished the inning and earned his save in the ninth.
It wasn't a button-down job as the first two batters reached base and Downs needed a nifty putout by Rolen on a grounder to third and a running grab by Vernon Wells of what looked like a two-run double by Hank Blalock, but the Jays hung on to end their nine-game road losing streak.
NOTES Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay was named American League player of the week for his torrid hitting through June 7th. In six games, he hit .533, the best in the major leagues with two home runs and eight runs batted in. Over his last 20 games, Overbay is hitting .368 (25-58) and has a season-high 14-game hitting streak dating back to May 20. Sporting a big, purple bruise on the inside of is right shin, Overbay joked before the game that it was from a pitch "I wish I hadn't swung at … that'll teach not to roll over on pitches: You're going to get drilled." … The Rangers announced before the game that they had picked up the option on manager Ron Washington's contract through 2010, much to the delight of Jays manager Cito Gaston. "That's great, good for him," said Gaston. "I've known Wash for a long time. We played against each other … Tell me what he got so I can go ask [for mine]"
NEXT Tonight, at the Texas Rangers, 8:05 p.m. EDT.
PROBABLE PITCHERS Jays LHP Brian Tallet (3-3, 4.54) vs. RHP Doug Mathis (0-0, 0.00) [-dotted-rule-]
TV Rogers Sportsnet
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