Steve Pearce silenced doubters with a productive, though injury-shortened, 2016 season. The Rays plugged the 33-year-old in at several different positions throughout the season, and he was slashing .309/.388/.520 with 10 home runs in 60 games when he was traded to the Orioles in early August. He saw inconsistent playing time in a utility role for the O's before being placed on the disabled list late in the year. He finished the year with a solid 136 wRC+ between the two clubs. Pearce had surgery in September to repair the flexor mass tendon in his elbow, and he should be ready for the start of the season. The Blue Jays signed Pearce to a two-year deal early in the offseason. It is possible that he opens the year as the everyday left fielder, but another acquisition could force him into the short side of a platoon (130 career wRC+ against LHP, 100 wRC+ against RHP).
Pearce will start in left field and bat sixth in the order Sunday against the Rays, Hazel Mae of Sportsnet reports. It's the third start in four games for Pearce, with two of those starts coming against right-handed pitching. For the time being, it appears Pearce may have supplanted Ezequiel Carrera as the primary option in left field, but the situation figures to remain fairly fluid. Pearce is still slashing just .176/.222/.176 on the season, so he'll probably need to put together several quality at-bats in a row before those in deeper mixed leagues can feel comfortable grabbing him off the waiver wire.
Pearce is out of Wednesday's lineup against the Red Sox, Sportsnet's Arden Zwelling reports. With righty Rick Porcello on the hill for Boston, the Blue Jays will start with Pearce on the bench and Ezequiel Carrera starting in left field and hitting second. Pearce is off to a rough start to the season, slashing .162/.205/.162 in 37 at-bats, but he remains a huge threat whenever a lefty is on the mound for the opposition.
Pearce is not in the lineup Thursday against the Orioles, Shi Davidi of Sportsnet reports. Pearce was expected to play a big role in the Blue Jays offense this season, but he's only posted a .182 batting average in six games played. Manager John Gibbons will have Ezequiel Carrera take over in left field in an effort to get the bats going for the struggling squad.
Pearce is out of the lineup for Sunday's game against the Rays, Enrique Rojas of ESPN Deportes reports. With Justin Smoak turning in some quality at-bats in the early going, he appears to have secured primary starting duties at first base for the time being, leaving Pearce to scrounge for most of his playing time in left field. With Pearce sitting in favor of Ezequiel Carrera for the second time in three days, it looks like Pearce will have to settle for a part-time role until he's able to create some separation in the job battle.
Pearce is not in the starting lineup for Friday's game against the Rays. It's likely just a regular off day for Pearce, who is still recovering from an elbow injury suffered this spring and has started the year on a 3-for-13 clip. The 33-year-old could be an attractive play against his former team this weekend, as he has 10 home runs and a .264 average against Tampa Bay in his career.
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