ANAHEIM – Colby Rasmus was saying the right things when asked about his new lot in life. He's a platoon player now. Once the starting centerfielder, he'll share duties with Darin Mastroianni for the time being.
"I guess it's different than I've been in before as far as being platooned," said Rasmus. "I'm just going to look at it as they're trying to help me in some weird kind of way."
Rasmus is struggling, of that there is no question. With his first taste of free agency only months away, he's suffered through a .214/.267/.458, his .725 OPS propped up by his slugging percentage, which is strong because of Rasmus' 41 hits, 12 have been home runs and 11 have been doubles.
His splits would, on the surface, suggest a platoon makes sense. Rasmus has a .754 OPS with 10 home runs against right-handed pitchers; a .619 OPS with two home runs against left-handers.
Manager John Gibbons has decided that involving one of the club's latest of many waiver claims, Darin Mastroianni, in the centerfield mix is right for the team.
"We want him to start hitting right-handers too," said Gibbons. "We're scrambling for offence right now and we think that's the best chance. He's not hitting any lefties so give Mastro a shot at it."
This comes at an interesting time. Edwin Encarnacion is on the disabled list with a right quadriceps strain. Brett Lawrie is on the disabled list with a fractured right index finger. Jose Bautista is playing despite hamstring tightness. Adam Lind is playing as he recovers from a bone bruise in his right foot. It seems anyone who is anyone is fighting an ailment to some degree.
Rasmus should be part of the solution but he's going to have to break out of his funk in order to get the chance.
"It's not going like I want it to, obviously," said Rasmus. "Everyday in this game is a fight no matter if you're doing good or doing bad. Right now it's not going that great for me. At the plate, they're pitching me well and they're not playing into my strengths, which is their job."
In the fifth inning of Monday's 5-2 loss to the Angels, the score was 2-2 at the time, Los Angeles' Josh Hamilton hit a lazy fly ball to Rasmus in centerfield. The bases were loaded and Kole Calhoun tagged from third. Rasmus caught the ball flatfooted rather than circling it and setting up for the throw home. His throw was offline, Calhoun scored easily and the Jays trailed the rest of the way.
Two innings later, with the score 5-2 Angels in the seventh, Mastroianni pinch hit for Rasmus with left-handed Angels' reliever Joe Thatcher on the mound. Gibbons made the move knowing right-hander Jason Grilli was ready. Grilli struck out Mastroianni looking.
While Gibbons said he wasn't punishing Rasmus for the defensive miscue, he didn't offer Rasmus a ringing endorsement.
"Well, you knew they had us either way," said Gibbons of the matchups. "So they forced our hand. They got us any way we want to go there."
It's a little late to call this the beginning of the end of Rasmus' time in Toronto, but the club appears poised to go in a different direction next season. Rasmus will seek out a contract big on term and dollar and knows he needs a strong finish to improve his chances of securing one.
"That's not really my main concern," said Rasmus. "My main concern is to get back to playing, not necessarily trying to prove anything or prove to anybody that I've got to do anything; just to come in, do what I've got to do, play baseball, have fun, enjoy my family and that will be it.
"I'm not going to let whatever's going on put more stress on me," he said. "I'm just going to go out there and play. Whenever they want me to play, I'll play."