Thursday, April 20, 2006

Eric Hinske Being Overtaken by Alexis Rios

Eric Hinske, such a disappointment that he even began hearing boos from the Toronto faithful last year, might have thought he had redeemed himself enough this season to win the full-time right field job. His average stands .368 and his on-base percentage in nearly .500. The problem is that his platoon partner, Alexis Rios, is batting .390 with five homers, and has been given two thirds the playing time even though Rios is a righty and Hinske bats left. Hinske is batting .368 vs. righties but Rios is batting .368 against them. Management's original intent was to have either Hinske or Rios earn the full-time job, and Hinske was given the edge coming out of camp. But with both playing well the competition remains open. Hinske, 28, is a former Rookie of the Year and Rios, 25, was Minor League Player of the Year. Until now both have worn the "underachiever" mantle. Still, with Hinske able to play outfield, first and third, expect him to be given the bench role eventually as he provides diverse options for late inning substitutions. And at least for now, Hinske does not appear able to keep pace with Rios' hitting.