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Blue Jays pick Eric Thames in left field, send down Travis Snider

Mar 25, 2012, 8:25 PM EDT

Blue Jays outfielder Eric Thames warms up in left field during an inter-squad game at their MLB American League spring training facility in Dunedin Reuters

Travis Snider performed well enough to win the Blue Jays’ starting job in left field this spring. Unfortunately for him, Eric Thames played well enough to hold on to it.

Snider was sent packing Sunday despite his four homers and 16 RBI in 17 games this spring. He was hitting .271/.340/.625, though he did strike out 17 times in 48 at-bats.

Thames, the favorite going in, wasn’t bad himself, hitting .333/.380/.511. He has just one homer, but he has doubled five times in 45 at-bats.

Since both Snider and Thames were left-handed hitters, there was only room for one of them on the squad. The Jays are set to carry right-handed hitters Ben Francisco and Rajai Davis as backup outfielders. Francisco likely will pick up a lot of starts in left field against southpaws.

Snider just turned 24 last month, which is easy to forget considering that he’s already spent parts of four seasons in the majors. His successful spring means the Jays probably won’t consider selling him off for a lesser prospect yet, but his next chance in Toronto will probably be his last. He’ll be out of options after this year, so there won’t be any more sending him back to the minors come 2013.

As for Thames, he was the safer choice of the two. The 25-year-old hit a respectable .262/.313/.456 with 12 homers in 362 at-bats last season. However, that did come with 88 strikeouts, a total that only seems modest when compared to Snider’s lofty strikeout numbers. He lacks Snider’s upside, but the Jays are going to hit him ninth most days and he’ll certainly be a much bigger threat in that spot than most teams can boast.

  1. dirtyharry1971 - Mar 25, 2012 at 8:48 PM

    so they replaced one strikeout artist with another, 4th place is a lock this season

  2. cur68 - Mar 25, 2012 at 9:33 PM

    Too bad for TSnide. A nice kid who worked hard and deserves a chance on an MLB team. But, end of the day, I think Thames is the right choice for the Beaver Men at the moment. He’s got a better strike out rate and grows better facial hair. He’ll do well, but he’s injury prone. I think I’ll look for Snider back up by June ’cause Thames will likely tweek something or the other by then. Can we play some ball now?

  3. humanexcrement - Mar 26, 2012 at 4:49 AM

    The Jays would probably love to have him on the major league club, but they’ve probably decided it’s more important for him to play every day.

  4. proudlycanadian - Mar 26, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    Snider was hot at the start of spring training, but Thames was better as they begam to face more starting pitchers. I have no idea why Matthew thinks that the Jays plan a platoon in Left Field. A platoon is not in their plans, Sure Francisco will get some work, but Thames will be the every day left fielder.

  5. Kevin S. - Mar 26, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    If Thames can bring that backdrop to Rogers Centre with him, he’ll do just fine.

  6. savocabol1 - Mar 26, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    I am shocked that there are no comments about the ladies in the background of the picture.

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