Back in January, we figured that the lynchpin of the Jays offense this year would be a certain corner outfielder who, at one point, was viewed as the future of the franchise. And while we couldn't be happier with the performances of Travis Snider and Adam Lind thus far, we're getting a bit antsy about the at bats of that other corner outfielder.
It's a given that it is way too early to freak out about Alex Rios, especially given that he's still managed to score six times and drive in another six so far. But there's something about the way Rios looks at the plate that has made us sit uncomfortably in the first week or so of the season.
Rios is a lanky and gangly assembly of appendages, and so far this year, it seems like all four of his limbs seem to be operating independently of one another. When compared to the economical swings of the players around him in the lineup (especially Rolen, Hill, Snider and Scutaro), Rios looks like a mess when coming through the hitting zone. His hands go up and down and everywhere, and his balance seems totally off. At times, it looks like he's falling backwards in his swing rather than coming to the ball.
In the field, we've said that Rios can at times look like a blisfully oblivious gazelle. At the plate this season, he looks like a gazelle on ice.
So with the standard caveats (small sample size, it's early, lots of baseball to play), we're hoping that is all stuff that can be worked out. We're certain that the magical mystical troika of hitting sages in the Jays staff are already hard at work showing Rios the way and the light, but it's just a little nerve wracking to see him try to figure things out while hitting in the three-hole.
And we know that Cito would never move him out of his spot in the lineup, because that might hurt his tender feelings.
What's 42 multiplied by inifinity?
We love that MLB celebrates Jackie Robinson Day, and that they go out of their way to single out his contribution to the game. But wasn't it overkill yesterday to see every single uniform festooned with Robinson's now-iconic number 42? We recognize that it might seem like a petty quibble, but in the three games that we watched yesterday, we were totally lost trying to figure out who was who.
We guess that the patchwork of the past few years wasn't exactly working with a few players on every team wearing 42. In addition, there was the uncomfortable issue that the initiative was at times serving to underscore the fact of how few African Americans are actually playing baseball when teams were scraping to find someone to wear the number on that day. On top of that, there's the whole issue of who "deserves" to wear the number, and whether if that runs down racial lines, which is totally counterproductive.
Our suggestion would be that one player on each team get the honour of wearing 42 on that day, and that the honour be bestowed on them by Robinson's family based on some criteria of social responsibility. Wouldn't that make the number special again?