With the Blue Jays looking for a sweep of the Devil Rays on Sunday, manager John Gibbons did not start Alex Rios in right field, and also declined to use him as a pinch-hitter late in the 2-1 loss. After the game, his decision-making was called into question.
As reported in both Monday's Toronto Sun and Toronto Star, the decision not to use the Rios, who leads the team in home runs and is second in RBI is baffling to say the least. In the bottom of the eight inning, with the Jays trailing 1-0, catcher Jason Phillips was due up to start the inning, but instead Gibbons sent up light-hitting John McDonald to pinch-hit. McDonald came to the plate with one hit in his past 25 at-bats and promptly hit a weak grounder back to the pitcher for the out.
Statistically at least, Phillips has more power than McDonald, so it is strange that if he did not want to use Rios, why he would not have just left Phillips in to face
reliever Brian Stokes. After the game, Gibbons dodged any questions about his decision.
Why pinch hit for Phillips?
"I've got my reasons," he said.
Would you like to share them?
"No, I'd rather not. You don't need to know everything," Gibbons said.
Maybe Rios was hurt and unavailable for duty?
"No, uh-uh," Gibbons grunted.
Why use McDonald?
"I told you, I have my reasons," Gibbons said.
There was another question about Rios being healthy.
"He's fine, he's fine. I just chose to do it that way that time," Gibbons said.
Rios was unable to shed any light on the subject. Asked why he didn't start, he replied: "I have no clue."
Could he have pinch-hit?
"Yeah, of course," Rios said.
Are you healthy?
"Everything's good. It's all good," he said.
If the Jays are expected to turn this season around, Rios needs to be in the lineup, and at this point it is still a mystery as to why he wasn't given a chance to help the team sweep it's first series since last September.
First of all, pinch hitting with John McDonald is something that should never happen in a major league game. The guy is basically the worst hitter in the entire American League. Second of all, pinch hitting with somebody like Alex Rios sitting on the bench (who actually had a pinch hit HR last week) is even more dumbfounding. Seriously, what could his reasons have been? Did he get in another fight with a player? Gibbons isn't going to last the season, IMO.
Has anybody ever seen a situation this puzzling in terms of a manger's decision making?