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Slumping Blue Jays try Japanese shortstop Kawasaki at leadoff position

Toronto Blue Jays Munenori Kawasaki turns a double play with teammate Maicer Izturis over New York Yankees Vernon Wells during the fifth inning of their MLB American League baseball game in Toronto on Saturday.

MARK BLINCH/REUTERS

The Blue Jays have moved shortstop Munenori Kawasaki into the leadoff position.

In part it was a move of necessity Sunday as Jose Bautista shifted back to right field from designated hitter. That displaced Rajai Davis, who had been batting first in place of the injured Jose Reyes.

Toronto manager John Gibbons said the Japanese shortstop was really his only leadoff option given his lineup in Sunday's series finale against the New York Yankees.

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But he likes the way Kawasaki battles the pitcher and works the count, calling him "a sparkplug."

Kawasaki entered the game batting. 263 in eight games.

Toronto has also tried Emilio Bonifacio in the leadoff spot but he has been on the bench in recent games.

Right-hander Josh Johnson takes the mound for the slumping Blue Jays, hoping to avert a series sweep at the hands of the Yankees.

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