TORONTO -- Several Blue Jays hitters have struggled to the start the season, especially All-Star Jose Bautista and shortstop Yunel Escobar, but manager John Farrell is not putting much stock in how his players have performed over the first month of the season.
Farrell said he's content with the top portion of his lineup -- where Escobar and Bautista have been slotted -- but that's not to say he's going to be patient with the batting order forever.
"I think individually, you look at 100 at-bats as a pretty good sample size or picture into what a guy is currently doing," Farrell said. "You look at the 35- to 40-game mark collectively as a team to get a better read to where we are, our strengths and where our areas of limitations might be. The one thing that I don't want to do is make wholesale changes and then there is a lot of wondering what is going on. When changes are made, those players will be talked to before it's made public."
One of the first changes that Farrell may make to the lineup, eventually, is flip-flopping Escobar and Kelly Johnson, who is currently hitting in the No. 2 spot -- but stressed he isn't ready to go down that road just yet. Farrell experimented with having Johnson lead off followed by Escobar in the order during Spring Training, but he prefers to have his players work through their slumps -- noting it creates stability.
As for Bautista, who is batting just .181 entering Tuesday's match against the Rangers, don't expect him to be moved in the lineup, perhaps ever. Farrell believes Bautista has started to turn the corner dating back to an earlier series in Kansas City, where he hit his last home run, and that his timing is coming around while his head [of the bat] isn't flying off the ball as much.
"He has ... however long it takes for him -- we believe in him, we are confident in him and we will continue to work on getting his timing and production back to where he typically is," Farrell said, when asked if he would contemplate moving Bautista down in the order. "We've been spoiled, and everyone in Toronto longer than I have, over the two-plus years of elite performance.
"He's our three-hole hitter."
One of the things that has plagued Bautista early on, according to Farrell, is that he's been overswinging and pressing at the plate, as he could be trying to make up for missed opportunities from earlier in the season.
Bautista has hit three homers and driven in 10 runs after going deep 97 times and producing 227 RBIs the past two seasons combined. The right fielder has an OPS of .634 after leading the Majors in that category in 2011 with a mark of 1.056.