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Jun 3, 2024 12:07 am

After altering infield, Blue Jays begin 4-game series vs. O’s

vladimir guerrero jr

The Toronto Blue Jays might start Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at third base again during their four-game series with the visiting Baltimore Orioles, which begins Monday night.

In an effort to spark their offense, the Blue Jays started Guerrero, who usually plays first base, at third base in Sunday’s 5-4 victory over the visiting Pittsburgh Pirates.

The Orioles are coming to Toronto after a 4-3 home loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday.

Moving Guerrero back to third, a position he played during most of his rookie season in 2019, for at least one game allowed the Blue Jays to start Daniel Vogelbach and Justin Turner for the rubber match of the three-game series.

Vogelbach produced the go-ahead two-run double in the fifth inning as the designated hitter. Turner went 0-for-4 playing first base. Guerrero was 1-for-4 with an RBI single and handled multiple grounders at third base, where he had not played since June 16, 2022.

“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Vlad because it’s not easy to do, and it shows what kind of teammate he is,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said.

The decision was made collectively over the past few weeks. Guerrero has been taking ground balls at third base on occasion. Sunday represented a “target date,” according to Schneider, who stressed that the move is not permanent.

“Maybe a couple days out of a week-and-a-half, something like that,” Schneider said. “It’s not a position change by any means, but I think it just offers some flexibility.”

“I was ready; I prepared myself for that,” Guerrero said. “All this time I’ve always told the manager, everybody, that I’m available in case they need me. I’m ready to play third. Today, it happened and I was ready for it.”

Guerrero signed with Toronto in 2015 as a third baseman and called it his favorite position.

“If you can play both corners, first and third, the right way, that will give the manager, the team, more options like today,” Guerrero said. “Regardless if third is my favorite position, I’ll be prepared for first or third, whatever that team needs.”

The Orioles, who lost Sunday despite finishing with 15 hits, have won eight of 10.

“We just had so many opportunities to score,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “We got 15 hits; we just didn’t get the hits with runners in scoring position today. Those things happen.”

“It’s kind of weird for us not to put many runs on the board with that many hits,” center fielder Cedric Mullins said after the club left 13 on base. “It’s kind of one of those days.”

The Orioles are scheduled to start right-hander Grayson Rodriguez (5-2, 3.53 ERA) in the series opener. He is 0-1 with a 4.32 ERA in three career starts against Toronto.

The Blue Jays are scheduled to start former Orioles pitcher Kevin Gausman (4-3, 4.14). The right-hander is 1-3 with a 4.61 ERA in five career starts against Baltimore.

Orioles second baseman Jorge Mateo is in concussion protocol after leaving the game on Sunday.

Mateo was accidentally struck on the back of his helmet by Mullins’ bat as they prepared to hit in the bottom of the fourth.

“We’re just waiting to see,” Hyde said. “He’s going to get some more tests, and then we’re going to see how he feels tomorrow.”

The Orioles and Blue Jays split two games at Baltimore in mid-May, with one game postponed.

–Field Level Media

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