Clayton, McDonald to split time at short; Hill to stay at second

By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com , 01/17/2007 10:00 AM ET

計畫改變了。整個2006年游擊這個位置一直都是多倫多的心腹大痛,現在球隊決定改變方向了。
一年之前,球團選擇讓二年級生Aaron Hill 和Russ Adams成為新球季的雙殺組合。Hill在二壘位置上打出了佳績,然而Adams卻兩次被降至3A同時讓球隊不斷的在尋找新的游擊手。

今年冬天,球隊以1年150萬的代價在十一月簽下了37歲的Royce Clayton作為暫時性的解答。在打線幾乎已經確定的時候,多倫多簽下這名守優於攻的選手。

藍鳥對並未確定讓Clayton成為先發。不過他應該會比John McDonald擁有較多的出賽機會。McDonald去年出賽了76場,不過基本上他主要是扮演工具人的角色。

“我們認為Hill會成為一名出色的二壘手,”球隊GM J.P. Ricciardi在十二月說到” Clayton和McDonald在游擊區的守備則能夠讓我們感到滿意。”

藍鳥隊對二壘應該是比較放心的。上一季,同時也是Hill首次成為全職二壘手的第一季,他的0.291打擊率、6支全壘打和50分打點以及155場的出賽都是生涯的新高。

24歲的Hill在二壘的防守上一樣優秀,同時也讓那些質疑多倫多交易掉2005年金手套Orlando Hudson的人閉嘴。唯一的問題就是因為Adams的防守讓大學和小聯盟也守過游擊的Hill必須分擔一些時間在游擊的守備上。

在二壘和游擊他分別先發了106場和46場。有許多場比賽Hill可能得為了某些目的而在比賽更換守備位置。總教練John Gibbons計畫在新球季讓Hill把全副心力放在二壘上。

“我想讓Hill待在二壘是非常重要的,”Gibbons最近說到”讓他得常常更換守備位置的日子結束了,至少我是這麼想的。”

多倫多並未確定正選的游擊手是誰。即便如此,Clayton的出賽時間應該會比McDonald多。但是應該都會獲得對他們兩人來說相當充足的上場時間。

Clayton在上一季分別代表國民和紅人出賽共計137場,打擊率0.258;有2支全壘打和40分的打點。這個成績可比McDonald好得多。McDonald在上一季出賽場次達到生涯新高的104場,但是卻只有0.223的打擊率,3支全壘打和23分的打點。而Adams在90場的出賽中只有0.219的打擊率。

“Clayton確實能打—他可不是只能防守而已,” Gibbons說到。” 防守當然是優先,但是我們也希望他載打擊上也能有所貢獻。過去他所做的已經足夠了。但是誰知道呢?也許今年會是他突破的一年。”

當Clayton和藍鳥隊簽約時,他也很清楚不見得在春訓時他會有確定的工作。

“他們在簽約前非常誠實,而我也認為我對於我期待的和我所希望的非常誠實。”Clayton在簽約後這麼說到。”在聯盟打滾了16年,我從未經歷過那種已經有一份工作把在那邊等待我的狀況。我必須自己去爭取它。”

去年球季結束的時候,32歲的McDonald甚至不確定2007年他能不能重回藍鳥隊陣中。他對於自己在七月成為先發游擊手時在打擊和守備上的表現非常不高興。藍鳥隊在今年冬天和他簽下一紙75萬美金的合約。

二三壘也都能守的McDonald在去年七月15號取代Adams成為球隊的先發游擊手後打擊率只有0.204。在那之前他的打擊率是0.253,已經超過了他生涯平均的0.236。儘管多倫多是因為他的防守才讓他先發,但是他也對於他在游擊防區整季發生了14次的失誤感到失望。

“如果我樂觀地去看,同時我也試著這麼做,我認為在工具人這個角色上我的表現相當稱職。”McDonald再九月時這麼說。”但是作為先發球員,我的表現並不好。當我得到這個機會時我並沒有好好表現。”

在十二月時,多倫多也經由規則五的選秀選來了工具人Jason Smith。29歲的Smith去年在落磯出賽49場,打擊率0.263、擊出5支全壘打和13分打點。他所能提供的主要就是左手代打。

至於Adams,球團計畫讓他今年從3A出發。他的傳球問題讓他在去年前36場比賽就發生了9次失誤。這也促使球團讓他轉換跑道到二壘。但是現在這個位置被Hill卡住了,這同時也代表了現階段大聯盟並沒有足夠的空間讓他發揮。

“我們並不期待Adams今年變成這樣。“Ricciardi在球季結束後說到。”但是他確實表現如此而我們也從那之後止跌回升。你帶著期待和計畫開始球季,但那不表示事情會照著你的劇本走。”

附上原文﹕

Plans have a way of changing. After shortstop turned into a constant source of migraines for Toronto in 2006, the club decided to go in a different direction with the position this winter.

A year ago at this time, the Blue Jays were heralding sophomores Aaron Hill and Russ Adams as their double-play duo for years to come. Hill then had a career year at second base, but Adams slumped his way to two demotions and left Toronto searching for a new shortstop altogether.

This winter, Toronto found a temporary solution in 37-year-old Royce Clayton, who signed a one-year deal worth $1.5 million with the Jays in November. With a potent lineup already in place, Toronto was content on adding Clayton -- a player known more for his defense than his offensive abilities.

The Jays have yet to name Clayton their starter at short. He'll likely garner more playing time at the position than John McDonald, who started 76 games at short last year for the Jays, but is admittedly more comfortable in a utility role.

"We think Hill is going to be a very good second baseman," Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said in December. "Clayton and McDonald at short give us enough that we're going to catch the ball. We're comfortable."

The Blue Jays are far more comfortable with second base. Last season, Hill hit .291 with six home runs and 50 RBIs in 155 games -- all career highs -- in his first season at the position full-time.

Hill, 24, also was a strong defender at second, helping to erase any doubts Toronto might've had about trading away Gold Glove Award winner Orlando Hudson last offseason. The only issue came when Adams' defensive woes surfaced. That forced Hill, who played shortstop in college and in the Minors, to spend some time on the other side of the diamond, too.

Hill started in 106 games at second, but he also started 46 at shortstop. There were many instances when Hill would switch positions during the course of a single game as well. Toronto manager John Gibbons plans on leaving Hill alone at second base this season.

"I think it's important that Aaron's at second base," Gibbons said recently. "His days of flip-flopping back and forth are over with -- in my mind anyway."

Toronto isn't as set with one player at shortstop, though. Clayton will likely play more at that spot than McDonald, but they each will probably get a good amount of playing time at the position throughout the season.

Clayton hit .258 with two homers and 40 RBIs in 137 games last year with the Nationals and Reds. That's a moderate upgrade over McDonald, who hit .223 with three homers and 23 RBIs in a career-high 104 games last season with the Jays, and Adams, who hit .219 in 90 games.

"Clayton hits, too -- he's not just a defensive guy," Gibbons said. "The priority was that glove, but we also want him to contribute offensively. He's done enough of that in the past. Who knows, he may have a big year for us."

When Clayton signed with Toronto, though, he understood that he wasn't necessarily heading into Spring Training with a job in hand.

"They were up front and honest, and I think I was honest as well with what I expected and what I wanted," Clayton said after he signed. "I've never gone into any situation in 16 years of playing Major League baseball expecting to be handed any type of job. I have to earn it."

At the end of last season, the 32-year-old McDonald said he wasn't even sure he earned the right to come back to Toronto in 2007. He was upset with how he peformed at the plate and in the field after being named the starter at short in July. The Jays signed him to a one-year, $750,000 contract this winter.

McDonald, who can also play second and third base, hit just .204 after taking over for Adams as the full-time shortstop on July 15. Leading up to that point, he had posted a .253 average, which was above his career average of .236. Toronto named McDonald a starter because of his glove, though. Even so, he was also disappointed in the 14 errors he made in the field last season.

"If I'm going to look at the positives, which I try to do, I think I've done a pretty good job as a utility guy," McDonald said in September. "As an everyday guy? I didn't do a good job. I just didn't perform well when I was given the opportunity to play every day."

In December, Toronto also picked up utility infielder Jason Smith in the Rule 5 Draft. Smith, 29, hit .263 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 49 games with the Rockies last season, and he provides a left-handed bat off the bench for the Jays.

As for Adams, Toronto plans on having him begin this season at Triple-A. His throwing issues last season at shortstop -- nine errors on throws in his first 36 games with the Jays -- prompted the Jays to convert him to a second baseman. With Hill locked in at that position at the moment, there isn't much room for Adams on the Major League roster.

"We didn't expect Russ Adams to have a poor year," Ricciardi said at the end of the season. "But he did and we rallied around that and were still able to hold the fort down. You go in with expectations and you go in with plans, but it doesn't mean that it's always going to work out."

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