Jays call up Pillar while Rasmus nurses injury

Shi Davidi joined Tim and Sid to discuss what ails Colby Rasmus and how it may land him on the DL, but there's no guarentee that the Blue Jays will take that route.

TORONTO – Kevin Pillar joined the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday intent on using the temporary absence of centre-fielder Colby Rasmus as an opportunity to show how much he’s grown since his big-league debut last season.

The 25-year-old outfielder comes up in the midst of a surge during which he’s reached base safely in 26 straight games with the triple-A Buffalo Bisons. Following a slow start, Pillar is batting .305/.344/.461 in 34 games with 13 doubles, three triples and a homer.

How long he gets to show his stuff is unclear as Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said the team is hoping to avoid a trip to the disabled list for Rasmus, who is day-to-day with tightness in his right hamstring. Regardless of how many days he’s up, Pillar is focused on "making it impossible for them to send me down."

"I can’t say I was overwhelmed but I didn’t perform the way I know I can perform, hopefully the second time is a charm," he told reporters following batting practice. "I’m definitely coming in with a different attitude, way more prepared this time, know what to expect, I don’t have those same butterflies that I did six months ago when I came here the first time.

"I feel like I’m here on a business trip and I’m prepared."

The Blue Jays maintained their eight-man bullpen by optioning infielder Jonathan Diaz to make room for Pillar, who will play centre field in Rasmus’ absence.

Pillar struggled during a stint in Toronto last summer, batting .206/.250/.333 in 36 games, and the Blue Jays felt his swing became too long as he became too pull-happy. He has returned to past form since then, with a key moment for Pillar coming during a 17-5 pounding of Louisville on April 28, when he collected an RBI single to each part of the field in his first three at-bats.

"That’s how I feel I’m going to get back and know I’m getting closer to how I was, using the whole field," Pillar told Sportsnet in a recent interview. "Going to right, going up the middle and pulling the ball, that’s ideal for me."

Pillar, a 32nd round pick in 2011, started last season at double-A New Hampshire before reaching the majors. A .493 slugging percentage in 52 games with Buffalo last summer contributed to him getting away from his approach.

"I had so much success when I first came (to Buffalo) last year pulling the ball, I wasn’t intentionally pulling the ball, but that’s how it worked out. And I was hitting some home runs to left field, it got me out of my strengths of using the whole field," explained Pillar. "It definitely carried over up there, especially when I was struggling. Everyone’s default is to try and pull the ball. It’s probably the easier thing to do, and it got me in trouble.

"Being 0-for-17, trying to chase hits, I wasn’t necessarily seeing the ball very well, I was trying to get hits; I was trying to get back to .300 on every swing. That’s not realistic. Coming back down here, maybe in a little bit less stressful environment, and not having success right away, allowed me to get back to my roots of being a tough out and using the whole field."

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