Overbay believes door is open for 2011 return

Overbay believes door is open for 2011 return

BOSTON -- Lyle Overbay entered this year with the mentality that it would likely be his last as the first baseman for the Blue Jays. With fewer than six weeks left in the regular season, Overbay suddenly has a different outlook.

On July 29, Toronto traded first baseman Brett Wallace -- considered to be Overbay's replacement for 2011 -- to Houston in order to acquire outfield prospect Anthony Gose. In the wake of that deal, Overbay believes there is at least a chance that he might be with the Blue Jays beyond this season.

"If you have a young guy like that," Overbay said, "they're going to replace me with him. When you get rid of him, obviously they can replace me with anybody, but I'm just as good as the 'anybody,' I guess. That's where it changes.

"You always say that stranger things have happened."

Overbay, 33, is in his fifth season with the Blue Jays -- earning $7 million this year -- and is eligible for free agency this winter. Toronto has tried designated hitter Adam Lind at first base a handful of times this year, but the club is not sure who will man the position next season.

If the Blue Jays do not give Lind a shot at the regular job at first base next year, the team might try to fill the position through trade or free agency. Or, Toronto might consider retaining Overbay until a long-term solution is found. For now, though, Overbay is not concerned about next year.

"We've got a lot of time," Overbay said. "The time will come when we discuss and we can talk about it. I'm not too worried one bit. We've got plenty of time to talk about it -- if they want to talk. I'm really comfortable here."

Whether Overbay tests free agency or not, the first baseman can at least move forward knowing he pulled himself out of his terrible early-season slump.

Entering Saturday's game against the Red Sox, Overbay was hitting .295 with 11 home runs, 17 doubles, 35 RBIs and a .376 on-base percentage, dating back to May 29. In his first 49 games this season, the first baseman hit at a .197 clip with four homers, 10 doubles, 19 RBIs and a .276 on-base percentage.

"It's bad to go through, but it's nice to go through in the same token," Overbay said of the slump. "You kind of think you've seen everything and done everything, and then all of a sudden that happens. It's something that I've learned from and hopefully I'll be able to take that learning experience and progress."