Notes: Tough year so far for Overbay
Jays skipper bumps first baseman down to eighth in lineup
TORONTO -- It's been a rough season for Lyle Overbay. The Blue Jays first baseman has battled the flu, fought dizzy spells, suffered from food poisoning and even endured his first trip to the disabled list, courtesy of a broken right hand in June.
The latter required surgery and forced Overbay to miss 31 of Toronto's games. Nearly a month since being activated from the DL, the hand that was broken by an ill-fated pitch from Chicago's John Danks on June 3 is still giving Overbay fits.
"I felt good when I came back. That's what's frustrating," Overbay said on Monday at Rogers Centre. "My hand had no pain whatsoever in the first two or three weeks. These last couple weeks, it's been kind of sore."
Toronto's medical staff has told the 30-year-old first baseman that the discomfort is simply part of the healing process, and that his hand probably won't be 100 percent until he can rest during the offseason. Maybe that's true, but that doesn't mean Overbay isn't having a hard time dealing with the ugly slump that's persisted since his return.
Since coming off the DL on June 12, Overbay has hit just .232 with no home runs and five RBIs in 22 games. Entering Monday, when Toronto manager John Gibbons dropped the first baseman down to the lineup's eighth spot for the first time this year, Overbay was in the midst of a 1-for-12 cold spell at the plate.
"My hand's not where it needs to be," Overbay said. "It's one of those things that I'm just going to be battling the whole year. I don't know if it's strength, because I do my strength excercises and it's fine. It just seems like I don't have control over it."
It's been the opposite of Overbay's fortunes before he broke his hand. Earlier this year, he struggled with picking up pitches. Now, Overbay said he's having no issues with recognizing pitches, but he hasn't been able to regain the feel for a smooth, consistent swing.
That was hardly an issue last season, when Overbay set career highs by hitting .312 with 22 homers and 92 RBIs in his first season with the Blue Jays. Overbay -- signed to a four-year deal worth $24 million in January -- has a .250 average with eight homers and 32 RBIs through 77 games this season.
"Whether [my hand] hurts or not, I'm just not getting that feel of a good swing," Overbay said. "I feel good at the plate -- that's what's bad. I feel like I'm in a spot to hit every time. Usually, when I'm feeling good, it comes easy. I feel very confident, but nothing's going my way, I guess."
Burnett watch: Blue Jays right-hander A.J. Burnett, who has been on the DL with a right shoulder injury since July 1, made his first Minor League rehab start on Monday. Burnett took the mound for Triple-A Syracuse in Ottawa, where he allowed one run on three hits with seven strikeouts and one walk over five innings.
The Jays plan on activating Burnett, who threw 66 pitches in the rehab start, for the upcoming road series in Kansas City. On Monday, Gibbons indicated that Burnett would most likely start against the Royals on Sunday, following Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan in the rotation.
It's still unclear whether Jesse Litsch or Josh Towers -- either could start against the Royals on Aug. 13 -- will be removed in favor of Burnett, though. Gibbons added that the Jays haven't decided if ace Roy Halladay will start in the finale against Kansas City on Aug. 13 or in the opener of a home series vs. the Angels on Aug. 14.
Staying grounded: During Sunday's win over Texas, McGowan induced 14 outs via the ground ball, marking the most he's recorded since getting 15 outs over the ground at Yankee Stadium on July 19. Straying from the norm, it was McGowan's sharp curveball that kept getting pounded to the turf by the Rangers.
"That's what we're looking for -- ground balls," said McGowan, who has a 1.82 ground-ball ratio through 17 starts. "There were a lot of curveballs that got ground balls, which was surprising. I'll take them. Usually, the curveball is a fly-ball pitch, but [on Sunday], it was being hit into the ground."
Bend it like... International soccer star David Beckham and members of the LA Galaxy Major League Soccer club were on hand at Rogers Centre and took part in the pregame ceremonies on Monday afternoon. Vancouver native Frank Yallop, the Los Angeles head coach and former head coach of the Canadian national soccer team, threw out the first pitch.
Did you know? Over his past three starts at Rogers Centre, McGowan has gone 3-0 with a 0.37 ERA. Dating back to June 23, McGowan's 0.37 home ERA ranks second in the Majors. San Diego's Chris Young ranks first with a 0.00 ERA at home.
Quotable: "I've said it many times: If you had nine of him, you'd have one heck of a team." -- Gibbons, on Toronto's Matt Stairs
Coming up: Towers (5-8, 5.17 ERA) is slated to take the mound against New York at 7:07 p.m. ET on Tuesday at Rogers Centre. The Yankees will counter with 45-year-old righty Roger Clemens (3-5, 4.23).
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.