Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blue Jays' Rookie Slugger Is Catching on in Outfield

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Blue Jays' Rookie Slugger Is Catching on in Outfield

Article excerpt

Carlos Delgado grabs a handful of grass from left field and tosses it to see how the wind's blowing. Then he glances to his left, where center fielder Devon White waves him deeper.

It's all part of Delgado's on-the-job training as the Toronto Blue Jays' left fielder. In their search for someone who could handle the pressure of playing for a two-time champion, the Blue Jays settled on a catcher who had never played the outfield.

"I feel all right," said Delgado, who had never played on artificial turf before his first SkyDome start. "I've done a lot of work and there's still a lot of work to be done. I feel pretty comfortable out there. Devo's been a great help."

And while Delgado, a 21-year-old rookie who spent last season in Class AA Knoxville, is still feeling his way in left field, he has settled right into the sixth spot in Toronto's formidable batting order.

On opening day, his 450-foot homer smacked SkyDome's Hard Rock Cafe. The next game, he became only the second Blue Jay to homer off Windows restaurant during the regular season.

In Monday's game at Oakland, Delgado homered twice and drove in five runs. Going into Wednesday night's game with the Athletics, his five homers led the Jays and nine RBIs put him second behind Joe Carter.

"It seems like he's a veteran," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "He doesn't have any fear. He's just playing like he's been here all the time."

Seeking a way to get Delgado's bat into the lineup, the Blue Jays decided late in spring training to convert him from catcher to outfielder. In trying to fill the spot vacated by free agent Rickey Henderson, they had looked at two other rookies, Robert Perez and Rob Butler, but neither one proved ready.

Delgado, who hit a team-high four homers this spring, was everything at the plate they weren't - confident and powerful. So Gaston tossed him into the outfield to see how quickly he could pick it up. …

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