CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Gaston keeping Rios third in lineup

Gaston keeping Rios third in lineup

TORONTO -- Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston gets right to the point when the ongoing offensive issues for right fielder Alex Rios are brought up.

"In order for us to win, he will have to hit," Gaston said.

Rios has been mired in a power outage at the plate, launching just one home run through Toronto's first 26 games. On Sunday, as has been the case all season, Gaston left Rios in the third slot in the lineup.

Gaston has no plans on moving Rios lower in the order, either.

"Moving him out of that spot is not going to help him," Gaston said. "I was a player, and I know you have ups and downs. And when things are going bad, you look around, and it seems like everyone is looking at you, everybody is thinking poorly about you. I don't want him to ever think that we've given up on him or I think poorly of him.

"So why knock him down by moving him and taking away some of his confidence? So you know what? I might get criticized for not moving him, but we'll see what happens in the end. It might come to it -- I'm not going to say I won't ever move him out of there -- but right now I'm going to stick with him."

Rios made Gaston look wise on Sunday.

In the first inning, Rios doubled to left field and scored on a home run by Vernon Wells. In the fifth inning, Rios ripped a 2-2 pitch from Baltimore right-hander Jeremy Guthrie deep to left field for a solo homer, the right-fielder's second blast of the season.

Entering Sunday, Rios was hitting .255 with a .311 on-base percentage, a .364 slugging percentage and 12 RBIs through 26 games. The right fielder's .675 OPS (on-base plus slugging) ranked 10th in the American League among No. 3 hitters, and only two teams in the league (Red Sox and Angels) had fewer home runs out of the third hole.

Rios has made progress at the plate, though. Over his past 14 contests, entering Sunday, Rios hit at a .295 clip to raise his average to .255 from .204. He recorded at least one hit in 13 of those games as well.

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

{}
{}