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Minors report: Change suiting Adams

Minors report: Change suiting Adams

Hot topic: The Blue Jays aren't giving up on Russ Adams. What Toronto is trying to do is find the best way to utilize the young infielder.

Adams, 26, entered last spring as Toronto's starting shortstop, but defensive woes led the club to rethink his place in the field. The Jays sent Adams to Triple-A Syracuse, where he began transitioning to second base -- a position he played at University of North Carolina.

This spring, Adams has continued to hone his skills at second, and he appears to be headed back to Syracuse for the start of the season. There's an outside chance he could make Toronto's roster as a backup, but Jays manager John Gibbons said that wasn't likely.

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"Right now, he's ticketed for Triple-A," Gibbons said. "We just want to see him go down there and see him have a big year, both offensively and defensively. He knows that."

Adams committed 10 errors, including nine on throws, in 36 games at short last year before moving to second base. The left-handed hitter also struggled at the plate, hitting .219 with three homers and 28 RBIs in 90 games for the Jays. In 2005, when Adams was Toronto's regular shortstop, he hit .256 with eight homers and 63 RBIs in 139 games.

"It all started with that throwing funk he got into," Gibbons said. "Then, that affected his hitting -- understandably so. The focus on everything he does is throwing, so that's on his mind.

"Now, I think he's settled into that second-base spot," he added. "He likes it there. He's comfortable with it, and that should bring his whole game back to where we think he can be."

Aaron Hill is entrenched as Toronto's full-time second baseman this season. That doesn't mean the Blue Jays are about to give up hope that he and Adams can still possibly be the club's double-play duo in the future.

Come 2008, it might not be out of the realm of possibility that Hill would move back to shortstop to make room for Adams at second. Before that can happen, though, Adams has to earn his way back to the Majors with a strong showing this season.

On the move: Earlier this spring, Gibbons sat down with Adam Lind and told the young outfielder to approach Spring Training as if he were trying to win a job. Through three games, Lind has flashed a steady bat -- already collecting a triple and double. Lind is a long shot to crack the Opening Day roster, but he'll be the first callup from Triple-A Syracuse if one of the starters has a setback.

Names in the game: Pat Hentgen isn't the only former Toronto pitcher on hand this spring for the Blue Jays. Dave Stieb, who spent 15 seasons with the Jays, also is in camp as a guest coach. Hentgen and Stieb have helped throw batting practice, and they provide a valuable resource for Toronto's pitchers.

They're No. 1: Left-hander Ricky Romero, who was Toronto's first pick in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, appears slated to begin this season with Double-A New Hampshire. Last season, Romero suffered an early arm injury but recovered nicely by going 2-1 with a 2.47 ERA in 10 starts with Class A Dunedin. That warranted a call to Double-A, where Romero went 2-7 with a 5.08 ERA in 12 starts.

Class of '06: Last June, Toronto selected high schooler Travis Snider in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft. The outfielder adjusted well to professional baseball, hitting .325 with 11 home runs and 41 RBIs in 54 games for rookie-level Pulaski and picking up Appalachian League Player of the Year honors. Snider will most likely begin this season with low Class A Lansing.

Stat machine: Entering Sunday, the Blue Jays had belted four home runs, including two by Minor Leaguers. Both blasts came against Boston on Friday, when first baseman Kevin Barker hit a two-run shot in the third inning and outfielder Ryan Patterson chipped in a solo homer in the 10th.

What they're saying: "He reads about it. He hears it from the fans. He knows what's going on out there. That can affect a young player." -- Gibbons, on Adams

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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