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Matchups to dictate Blue Jays' leadoff hitter

Jansen to play as often as possible; club sends gift to injured fan
@gregorMLB
March 29, 2019

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have not settled on a permanent leadoff hitter, and it's likely to stay that way for most of the season. Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo is going to base his lineups entirely around matchups. If a player has good numbers against a specific pitcher, he'll likely

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have not settled on a permanent leadoff hitter, and it's likely to stay that way for most of the season.

Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo is going to base his lineups entirely around matchups. If a player has good numbers against a specific pitcher, he'll likely be batting first no matter what type of hitter he is.

Brandon Drury has been the Blue Jays leadoff man for the first two games of the season, but Randal Grichuk, Billy McKinney and possibly someone like Teoscar Hernandez will see some time there as well.

"I want to have my guys in the right spot," Montoyo said Friday afternoon. "It depends on who is pitching. I like to play everybody too. [Drury is] leading off for now but he could be hitting second; he could be hitting third tomorrow. I'm going to go with matchups."

The coaching staff will look at a lot of different data when putting together the lineup, and not all of the numbers will be related to previous matchups between a pitcher and hitter. Toronto also will look at bat speed, the type of swing a hitter has and the style of a particular starting pitcher.

In other words, get used to a different lineup for the Blue Jays almost every day. Other changes will run deeper than just the leadoff hitter. In the second game of the season, Hernandez and Justin Smoak swapped spots in the lineup as well, so the entire structure will be pretty fluid.

"Whoever matches up good with the guy who is pitching," Montoyo said. "So you might see a change in the lineup. It used to be old school, you want to stay with the same lineup, but nowadays it's matchups.

"I have to communicate. Before I put Drury there and I brought up Grichuk, I talked to them before I hit them there. I want them to be comfortable. From experience, if you don't like hitting first or something, it's already working against you. For sure those two guys are happy they're at the top of the lineup."

Jansen to get bulk of playing time
Danny Jansen
was held out of the Blue Jays' starting lineup on Friday night, but that's not going to be the case very often this season. Toronto's plan is to play Jansen as often as possible, while the club attempts to figure out whether he is the long-term catcher for the organization.

The 23-year-old rookie will get a breather whenever he needs it, but the time off won't be tied to any specific pitcher. The Blue Jays want Jansen to get comfortable with the entire staff, so backup Luke Maile won't have a particular assignment every week. Jansen will work with everyone, especially right-hander Marcus Stroman, who has been singing his praises for the last two months.

"Jansen is a young kid so I'm going to take my time, but he's going to get most of the playing time for sure," Montoyo said.

"Stroman feels good with Jansen. So he's going to probably catch Stroman most of the time. That's also very important, if a pitcher feels right with a catcher, we're going to go with that guy. But we're hoping they'll like Jansen a lot because I want him to catch most of the time."

Paying it forward
The Blue Jays have sent a gift package to Genevieve Cormier, who was struck on the head by a bat that flew into the stands at Olympic Stadium in Montreal during a recent exhibition game between the Blue Jays and Brewers.

Toronto outfielder Joshua Palacios was batting in the ninth inning when he lost the grip on his bat. Cormier required immediate medical attention for a large gash just above her right eye.

"We're going to send a bat and stuff to her, because I felt bad that she got hit," Montoyo said. "I didn't know about it until today. [To] tell her that we're thinking of her."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook.