TORONTO -- Yunel Escobar has had a rough first month to the season, and Blue Jays manager John Farrell said he thinks he knows what's contributing to it.
"There are times he will really bend over -- you will see that front shoulder get really turned in, so when he tries to execute the swing, he pulls out of it and that's where you see all those ground balls to shortstop," Farrell said. "When he's right, he's hitting those line drives to right-center field or straight-away right, so we're trying to get him back to that."
Escobar entered Monday's contest against Texas with the second-lowest on-base percentage (.267) and lowest slugging percentage (.286) among all starters on the Blue Jays. What's particularly troubling with Escobar's inability to get on base is that he's the leadoff man.
Last season, Farrell had considered moving his shortstop to the middle of the order based on the way he was swinging the bat, but it looks like he will ride it out with Escobar batting leadoff for the near future.
"I've thought about it, yes, but no change is imminent," Farrell said, when asked if he would consider moving Escobar down in the lineup. "One of the things we look at in the top third of the order, top two guys particularly, is on-base percentage and Yunel has taken some time to work out his swing and create a consistent path. He's very well aware what we value in that position and that is to get on base first and foremost, which he did an outstanding job for us a year ago. We're working with him to try to get back to that."
Escobar, which Farrell made sure to reference, led all Major League shortstops in walks last season and had the highest on-base percentage at the position in the American League.
Farrell also said that Escobar is chasing pitches out of the zone, which is not uncommon for a player who's experiencing a prolonged slump.
"Sometimes guys get into the those stretches where they might not be as confident, so they get a little anxious and maybe not trust their own abilities," Farrell said. "So when they get a pitch they feel is a decent strike, they might offer at a pitcher's pitch early in the count, rather than trusting they will get another pitch on the plate in the sequence."
Escobar was riding a four-game hit streak entering Monday, but was batting just .224 on the year.