ST. PETERSBURG -- Yan Gomes' versatility is proving to be a valuable asset to the Blue Jays during the early stages of his Major League career.
The 24-year-old rookie came up through Toronto's system as a catcher, but he played some first base last year and has seen his role expanded to third in 2012.
Gomes has proven capable at both corner infield spots, which continues to earn him playing time at the big league level following the departure of veteran Adam Lind to the Minors.
"He's got great aptitude," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "He's not afraid. He's been mostly a catcher in his pro career, but what he's shown on the corners, the versatility and the ability to play both is outstanding."
The transition to third base was relatively odd for someone in Gomes' situation, but it's one that also made sense, considering the club's depth behind the plate. The Blue Jays have second-year catcher J.P. Arencibia firmly entrenched at the Major League level while top prospect Travis d'Arnaud takes up the bulk of the playing time in Triple-A.
That led the club to begin searching for different positions to play Gomes, and third base became a natural fit.
"When you see him receive and you see him catch, he's athletic, he's got good hands, and with d'Arnaud, J.P., his path to the big leagues might require some versatility," Farrell said. "So we started to take some looks and workouts -- he looked OK, we threw him out in a game against the Orioles in Sarasota.
"Well, why not put him out at third base every day in Las Vegas? He'll catch once or twice a week, like a lot of guys, their bat is going to find a way."
Gomes' first opportunity in the big leagues arrived when third Brett Lawrie received a four-game suspension. The native of Brazil has since maintained his spot on the club by entering play Wednesday hitting .357 (5-for-14) with two home runs and four RBIs.
Toronto's Johnson day to day after early exit
ST. PETERSBURG -- Blue Jays second baseman Kelly Johnson was forced to leave with tightness in his left hamstring in the ninth inning of Wednesday's 5-4 loss in 11 frames to the Rays.
Johnson was replaced in the game by Omar Vizquel, who threw out Carlos Pena at home plate to end the ninth and force extras.
Johnson has been dealing with issues in his legs for the majority of the season, but the discomfort intensified in the past seven to 10 days.
The 30-year-old is listed as day to day. He remains optimistic that he won't be forced to miss any time.
"The left leg has been sore for awhile," Johnson said. "It has been about managing it, but now when I run, it's just not loosening up.
"It's just always there. I think we'll be good, though, day off [on Thursday] and I think we've got something, we've figured it out a little, so maybe we'll have it knocked off soon. Day off should help out a lot."
Johnson is hitting .250 with eight homers and 23 RBIs in 44 games this year.
Farrell calls for composure from Blue Jays
ST. PETERSBURG -- Blue Jays manager John Farrell would like to see a more even-keel approach from his players when it comes to dealing with disputed calls on the field.
Toronto's had multiple situations in recent weeks to varying degrees of intensity and there is a real danger that the club could become a target of umpires' scorn.
"There are going to be moments inside of a game where the emotions might be heightened because of the game situation, the score, the inning, who's involved," Farrell said. "It's upon all of us to remain composed and operate at that effort level that keeps people under control."
Third baseman Brett Lawrie was recently suspended four games for tossing his helmet in the direction of home-plate umpire Bill Miller. Lawrie also had another dispute on Tuesday night after he was ruled out for not touching second base on his way back to first on a deep fly ball in the eighth inning against the Rays.
Lawrie responded to the call by running toward second-base umpire Rob Drake. The conversation between the two was brief and Farrell quickly intervened as Lawrie walked off the field without incident, but Toronto's manager would still prefer to see the situation handled differently.
"Body language speaks volumes, and in light of recent events, I wanted to be sure it didn't escalate," Farrell said.
"Those are the things we continue to make him aware of, and how it can be perceived. That's part of our job in teaching and helping with his maturity, hopefully to shorten down that natural timeline. At the same time, he is a high-energy player, and we don't want that energy to be eliminated. We just want it channeled in the appropriate way."
Yunel Escobar also had a mini-altercation at the end of the game with home-plate umpire Sam Holbrook. Escobar disputed a strike-three call and walked off the field with several choice words for the umpire, which prompted Holbrook to stare into the visitors' dugout for an extended period, even as both sides began going into their respective clubhouses.
There's concern of potential lingering ill will from umpires toward the club because of Lawrie's recent incident and the seemingly daily arguments about the strike zone from various players. Farrell hopes that's not the case.
"The only thing any player has in his control is to respect the game, respect the situation and go out and play to his abilities," the second-year manager said. "There is going to be frustration that rears its head in any game that is played.
"You deal with that frustration in a manner that's professional and respectful -- that's when you begin to earn your reputation."
Blue Jays extend contract with New Hampshire
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Blue Jays' Double-A affiliate will be sticking around Manchester, New Hampshire, for at least the next two seasons.
Toronto officially announced on Wednesday morning a two-year extension with New Hampshire of the Eastern League for the 2013-14 seasons.
The Blue Jays have been partnered with the Fisher Cats since 2004, which it the longest running non-owned affiliate in the organization.
"The Blue Jays are very pleased to be extending our working agreement with the Fisher Cats," said director of Minor League operations Charlie Wilson.
"The Fisher Cats represent the best of Minor League Baseball with state-of-the-art ballpark and facilities, passionate baseball fans, and a great front office led by [Fisher Cats owner] Art Solomon and [Fisher Cats president] Rick Brenner."
The Fisher Cats are the reigning Eastern League champions, and they also won a division crown in 2004. They are currently led by manager Sal Fasano and possess some of the club's top prospects including Deck McGuire, Chad Jenkins and Mike McDade.