Notes: Zaun focuses on quality pitches

Notes: Zaun focuses on pitches

MINNEAPOLIS -- Catcher Gregg Zaun has an interesting approach to throwing out runners on the basepaths -- he doesn't.

After the Twins racked up three stolen bases in Monday's game, Zaun explained that it's more important to him that his pitchers throw quality pitches than sacrifice to be quick to the plate.

"I have pride in what I do, and I know I can throw runners out if I'm given the chance," Zaun said. "But that's just not something that we're real good at right now. So I'm not going to ask them to do something that they're not comfortable doing right now."

Blue Jays catchers have thrown out 13.2 percent of baserunners, with Zaun at an even 10 percent.

Zaun equated a stolen base with a quarter of a run, something that, depending on the pitcher, is expendable.

"There's some guys out there like A.J. [Burnett] and Doc [Roy Halladay] who can afford to sacrifice a base for quality stuff because they don't usually give up a whole lot of hits per inning," Zaun said. "The other guys need to get better at it. But for the sake of them making quality pitches, I'm not going to ask them to do something that they're not capable of doing right now. So it's really the lesser of two evils, what would you rather have: a quality pitch or a guy who's quick to the plate?"

While the caught-stealing percentage is a highly valued stat for some catchers, Zaun would much rather take the wins that come from quality pitching.

"For me, it's not about pride or anything like that -- I gave up on that a long time ago," Zaun said. "Our best chance to win is when our guys throw quality pitches, and if we give up a few small bases here and there, that's just what we have to do."

Manager John Gibbons knew coming into the Metrodome that stolen bases were going to be an issue. The Twins have 64 steals this season, third most in the Majors.

"Them and Tampa and Baltimore, a little bit, those are teams where that's a big part of what they do, and it's tough to shut them down," Gibbons said. "When you keep certain guys off base, you have a much better chance. [Nick] Punto and [Luis] Castillo -- those guys are tough to get."

Unsung hero: When Matt Stairs joined the Blue Jays in the offseason, he didn't expect to see much playing time, and the Blue Jays players and coaching staff didn't expect him to see much time either.

But with injuries to left fielder Reed Johnson and first baseman Lyle Overbay, Stairs has been filling in where he's needed and producing for the team on a daily basis.

"He's having an unbelievable year for us," Gibbons said. "Especially after coming in unexpectedly with playing time. He hasn't lost a beat."

Stairs, who had the go-ahead, two-run home run in Monday's game, is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak and has 12 home runs. He's batting .304 on the season.

"He's a lot better hitter than I had expected. He's covering both sides of the plate, he's covering offspeed. It's amazing to see him doing what he's doing," Halladay said. "I always knew he was a good hitter, but I've really been impressed with the way he's played for us all year."

Even with the way he's playing, Stairs is realistic about the future. He realizes when Overbay and Johnson return he'll probably go back to his role coming off the bench.

"[Overbay's] going to have a hard time knocking me out -- he's going to be a bench player," Stairs said jokingly. "I know when Overbay gets back his job is to be the first baseman every day. I'll move back to the outfield or whatever they want, it doesn't matter. I'll accept anything they want."

Waiting game: Frank Thomas will try again Tuesday to hit his 500th career home run and become the 21st member of that club.

Thomas hit a home run last month at the Metrodome off Twins starter Scott Baker, who is starting Tuesday's game.

The Big Hurt has 49 career home runs off the Twins and 15 at the Metrodome, where he also hit his first career home run in 1990, when he was with the White Sox.

Hockey? Twins first baseman Justin Morneau held a pregame press conference on Tuesday after spending Saturday and Sunday in a Florida hospital with a bruised lung he suffered after colliding with Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo.

While Morneau, a Canada native, is doing well, fellow Canadian Stairs believes the injury could have been avoided all together. When playing hockey, Morneau plays goalie. Stairs joked that maybe he'd be able to take some hits if he played elsewhere.

"It's because you're a goalie," Stairs jokingly yelled across the field at Morneau. "If you were a forward or something, this wouldn't have happened."

Injury update: Injured left fielder Johnson is set to begin his rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League in about a week. Johnson has been on the disabled list since April 12 with a herniated disk. ... Overbay began hitting off a tee with a fungo bat in Minneapolis on Tuesday. It was the first swings Overbay has taken since his right hand was broken by a pitch on June 3. ... Pitcher Gustavo Chacin, who is on the DL with a shoulder injury, has continued to play catch with no problems. Gibbons said he would probably start throwing from a mound on Monday in Oakland.

Around the horn: The Blue Jays scored all eight of their runs on Monday without the aid of a walk from any of the Twins pitchers. ... The Blue Jays are 4-0 since Vernon Wells has moved to the leadoff spot in the order. ... Alex Rios tied his career high when he knocked his 17th home run of the season on Monday night. ... With his home run Monday, Wells moved past Lloyd Moseby into sole possession of fifth place on the Blue Jays all-time list with 150 home runs.

Down on the farm: Triple-A Syracuse lost, 4-0, to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday. Starter Mikel McDonald went 5 2/3 innings and only gave up one earned run on five hits but took the loss. ... New Hampshire's Robinzon Diaz banged out two hits and Dustin Majewski hit a two-run home run, but the Fisher Cats lost to Portland on Monday, 5-4. ... Class A Dunedin beat St. Lucie on Tuesday with the help of 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief from Tim Worthington and Jose De La Torre. ... Lansing pummeled West Michigan, 16-9 on Tuesday. Travis Snider went 3-for-6 with two doubles and drove in four runs. Raul Barron drove in three runs on three hits.

Up next: Toronto continues its series against the Twins on Wednesday with Josh Towers (2-5, 5.75 ERA) on the mound. The Jays will face Boof Bonser (5-3, 4.45) at 8:10 p.m. ET at the Metrodome.

Leslie Parker is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.