Escobar gets a shot at the cleanup spot

Escobar gets a shot at the cleanup spot

NEW YORK -- The revolving door behind Jose Bautista in the batting order continued on Monday night, as the Blue Jays inserted Yunel Escobar into the cleanup spot for the first time this season.

Toronto has now used four players in the No. 4 position in the lineup since Adam Lind went down with a back injury on May 7.

Manager John Farrell has juggled the lineup more than he wanted in an attempt to find some protection for Bautista. Farrell felt that Escobar might be a good fit against Yankees starter Bartolo Colon because of the infielder's ability to protect the outer half of the plate.

"For the time being, with Adam's situation and still being on the disabled list, we're in a little bit of a state of flux," Farrell said. "What has become apparent in what we have to respond to is in the way teams are approaching Jose.

"[Colon's] dominant down to his glove side, down and away, and we felt like Yunel has swung the bat here really well of late."

Edwin Encarnacion, Juan Rivera and Aaron Hill have all been given auditions in the cleanup spot. The trio combined to hit just .216 with no home runs and eight RBIs.

Now it's Escobar's turn to offer some sort of protection to Bautista, who entered Monday's game with 39 walks this season and hit his 19th homer of the season off Colon in his first at-bat.

Farrell wouldn't commit to how long Escobar's audition would last.

"[There's] every intent to try to gain some continuity," said Farrell, who has used 41 lineups in 47 games. "It has been pretty much the antithesis of that, because of the uncertainty, because we're not trying to be so knee-jerk reactionary with the lineup.

"Yet we're looking for combinations to address what is being presented to us right now, and that's a clear-cut strategy with Jose, and we're trying to respond to that the best we can with the internal options."

Escobar's transition to fourth created an opening for Rajai Davis to return to the leadoff spot. Davis began the season in the club's top spot but sustained an ankle injury during the first game of the season and has struggled to find continued success.

The 30-year-old has been hitting well as of late, though, batting .364 with six runs and three doubles over his past 12 games.

Davis also leads the Blue Jays with 12 stolen bases in 16 attempts this year.