Those struggling hitters will look to get untracked Friday night for the Tampa Bay Rays in the opener of a three-game series at Rogers Centre.
Tampa Bay (9-10) went 10-8 against Toronto (8-10) last season, with Zobrist hitting .279 with 13 RBIs and Upton (.290, 11 walks, seven RBIs) and Rodriguez (.340 with eight RBIs) also faring well.
The Rays have had their share of offensive woes with season, averaging 3.5 runs, and those hitters are a major reason why. Zobrist is batting .197, Rodriguez .200 and Upton .210.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, will look for their trio of Jose Bautista(notes), Aaron Hill(notes) and Adam Lind(notes) to provide similar production to last year’s season series. Those players combined for 14 homers and 36 RBIs.
Hill, however, could miss a second straight game with a tight right hamstring after sitting out Wednesday’s 6-2 loss to the New York Yankees.
“He’s feeling a bit better. We’re going to try and give it as much time as we can,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos told the Blue Jays’ official website. “With hamstrings, you don’t know. If we had to put Hill out there on the field, I guess we could, but he certainly isn’t at 100 percent.”
The Blue Jays do not need to rely as much on power this year. New manager John Farrell has introduced an aggressive running style, and his club is second in the AL with 23 steals.
“This is still a hit-first organization, and we want to maintain that,” Farrell said. “We want to support that approach with a more diverse approach on the basepaths, a little bit more aggressiveness.”
Upton went 0 for 10 in the final three games of this week’s series against the Chicago White Sox. The Rays failed to complete a four-game sweep with Thursday’s 9-2 home loss, but they’ve still won eight of 10.
Designated hitter Johnny Damon(notes) went 1 for 4 in his return after missing the previous three games because of a left ring finger injury. He recorded his 2,585th career hit, moving him past Reggie Jackson into 79th place all-time.
“He looked good after taking a couple days off,” manager Joe Maddon said.
Hellickson has alternated losses and wins in his first three outings. The right-hander yielded four runs over seven innings in Sunday’s 4-2 defeat against Minnesota.
Reyes has failed to complete four innings in two of three starts. The left-hander went three-plus while walking five and allowing four runs Saturday in a 4-1 loss at Boston.