Over the course of his career, Juan Rivera has played 109 innings at first base. Elsewhere, he’s played 5,551 innings, including one magical appearance at second base for the Los Angeles Angels in 2008. Tonight, he’ll add to his first base total.
Obviously, Rivera’s start in the infield is a direct response to Edwin Encarnacion’s two error night last evening, which could’ve just as easily been a five error night with a different score keeper (Encarnacion’s cheque to Dave Perkins is in the mail). While there was no question it was a rough outing for Encarnacion, I don’t necessarily understand exactly what manager John Farrell expects to accomplish by playing someone who didn’t have the benefit of a Spring Training and early part of the season almost completely dedicated to first base, but we shall see.
The greater sin here is the ridiculousness of the Blue Jays roster management, which saw them send a left fielder to Triple A while calling up a first baseman, then send him down when their second baseman comes off the DL. When their starting first baseman gets injured, they call up a different left fielder instead of the first baseman that was just up. Oy!
In the grand scheme of things, Rivera’s start tonight at first base isn’t that big of a deal. Both Rivera and Encarnacion aren’t likely to be major parts of this team’s future so using or misusing them has no long term implications. However, if it’s any indication to the potential flightiness of Farrell’s lineup composition, there’s reason to be somewhat concerned.
Despite last night’s series of follies, Encarnacion remains the best option to start at first base with Adam Lind injured. This is the hard truth for a team that didn’t acquire a free agent first baseman this offseason and brought Eric Thames up instead of an actual injury replacement when Lind went down.
We’ll see tonight if the comedy of errors continues with Rivera as the team’s number three.
Speaking of tonight, join us at Getting Blanked around 6:30 PM this evening for a pregame live stream, where we’ll discuss some issues surrounding the Blue Jays and answer any questions you throw our way on Twitter (@DustinParkes and @AndrewStoeten).
Updated: Things aren’t going to get easier any time soon.