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Keeping Overbay in lineup paying dividends

Keeping Overbay in lineup paying dividends

TORONTO -- Since the beginning of the season, the Blue Jays have made a commitment to playing veteran first baseman Lyle Overbay on a full-time basis.

"We certainly made a commitment for him to play this year," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said on Tuesday. "That comes from [general manager Alex Anthopoulos] and myself -- he's got to live up to that."

While Overbay has by no means lived up to those minimal expectations -- hitting .183 with only nine RBIs heading into Tuesday's contest against the Red Sox -- the move to keep Overbay in the lineup finally appears to be paying dividends.

Since Friday, when the Jays opened up a three-game series with the Rays, Overbay has temporarily silenced critics by going 6-for-12, with two home runs and six RBIs -- four of which came on Monday night.

"Well, I hope that it keeps him going," Gaston said. "That's encouraging to see him do what he did, and hopefully that gets his confidence back."

Despite the bulk of Overbay's production coming in his past three games, Gaston wanted to remind skeptics that defense remains an integral part of the game.

"We've played 20 games now and have won 10," Gaston said. "I can go back and really remember that Lyle has probably helped us win three or four of those games. He's done his part, and it might not seem that way, because he hasn't hit as much as we would like to see him it."

One of the reasons Toronto has stuck with Overbay through thick and thin is that this season represents a critical opportunity for the 33-year-old veteran.

"The kid is going to be a free agent this year," Gaston said. "To bury someone and not let him play when he is about to be a free agent, that's not the right thing to do. We believe that he deserves a chance to go out and if not play here, play somewhere else."

James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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