Monday, May 24, 2010

Giambi Blasts Rockies Past Royals; Bautista a Big Part of Blue Jay Power Pack

Players of the Day for Sunday, May 23, 2010 American League Quick, who's leading the American League in Home Runs? A-Rod? Nope. Carlos Pena? Not even close. It's Tornoto's Jose Bautista and Paul Konerko of the White Sox, each with 14 dingers. While Konerko registered only a harmless single in Sunday's 13-0 rout by Florida (the Marlins blast 5 long balls), Bautista cranked out #14 for the Blue Jays, as they avoided being swept in Arizona with a 12-4 win. Bautista first got the Jays on the board with a two-run single in the 3rd inning, then helped put the game away, smacking a two-run bomb to start off a 5-run 5th inning for Toronto. Teammate Edgar Encarnacion - for whom Bautista moved from 3rd base to right field - hit his fifth in the past three game, a two-run shot. With all the home runs coming off of Toronto bats, interleague play is posing a pleasant problem for manager Cito Gaston. He just doesn't have enough spots in the lineup for all his bashers. With Encarnacion encamped at third base, Adam Lind in left, Bautista in right, Gaston sat Vernon Wells, the regular center fielder, for recently-acquired Fred Lewis, who has more speed and can handle the leadoff spot. Wells has 11 homers already, so a day off might not be a bad thing, but Gaston will have a veritable murderer's row once the Jays get back to regular play and the use of a DH, which is likely to be either Bautista, Wells or Lyle Overbay. Bautista's 4 RBI got him to 38, within two of league-leader, Miguel Cabrera. On pace for his best season ever, Bautista has developed a penchant for clearing the fences (and the bases) this season. His best years were 2006, when he hit 16 home runs, and 2007, when he drove in 63. At his pace, those marks will be obliterated by the all-star break. National League Jason Giambi has gotten into only 21 games this season, and, with just 45 at-bats for the Rockies, he hasn't had much of a chance to groove his swing. Sunday's outing at Kansas City gave him the opportunity to DH, and he made the most of his six at-bats with a pair of singles, a home run and four RBI as the Rockies out-slugged the Royals, 11-7. Somewhat of a forgotten figure in Colorado, Giambi still can be a force, either as a DH (interleague road games only for the Rockies) or a pinch hitter, which is how he's been employed most of this season. With Todd Helton a fixture at first and Giambi's fielding and lack of speed obstacles for the outfield, he's probably not going to get many more chances like he did on Sunday. At 39, Giambi is still a long ball threat any time he steps to the plate. His 411 home runs and 1339 RBI have him ranked 7th and 8th, respectively, for active players.

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