Hoffpauir eager to play for Blue Jays

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, June 22, 2010

TORONTO — Jarrett Hoffpauir finally had a chance to relax a little bit Monday night when he checked into his Toronto hotel room after the long flight from Las Vegas.

But relaxation isn’t exactly the first thing on Hoffpauir’s mind as he prepares for his Toronto Blue Jays debut at 6 p.m. today against the St. Louis Cardinals.

“I’m pretty anxious to be honest,” Hoffpauir said. “Once I get an at-bat or two, I’ll probably relax some, but for right now, I’m anxious to get out there and play.”

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Hoffpauir was called up from AAA Las Vegas on Sunday, and while it’s not his first experience in the Major Leagues, it might be his most important.

Hoffpauir spent two weeks in the big leagues last year for the Cardinals filling in for the injured Mark DeRosa.

He played in eight games and had a .250 batting average with two doubles and two RBI in 12 official at-bats.

But it was well known that Hoffpauir would be sent back down to the minors when DeRosa returned from injury, and that’s exactly what happened.

But this year’s call-up is much different.

Hoffpauir was picked up by the Blue Jays in the offseason after the Cardinals designated him for assignment (meaning he was removed from the Cardinals’ 40-man roster and any other MLB team was free to claim him off waivers), and played extremely well for Las Vegas, hitting .328 with nine home runs and 43 RBI in 57 games.

That was enough to impress the Blue Jays, who designated third baseman Edwin Encarnacion for assignment and called up Hoffpauir to replace him.

Hoffpair said he was told to expect a lot of action at third base.

“My AAA manager said as far as he knew, I’d be playing third base every day,” Hoffpauir said.

And while second base is Hoffpauir’s natural position, the Vidalia native has played some at third this year to increase his value to the Blue Jays.

“I don’t mind (playing third),” Hoffpauir said. “I’m more comfortable at second base, but I’ve been working at it to get better every day. Whatever it takes to get in the lineup.”

Hoffpauir does see the irony in his first series as a Blue Jay being against the Cardinals, but is looking forward to facing his former team.

“It’s going to be fun,” Hoffpauir said. “I’ve already talked to a couple of their players. I’m looking forward to seeing the guys and competing against them.”

Not many people realize the Major League Baseball dream, and at age 27, Hoffpauir knows this might be his best opportunity to stay in the big leagues.

“I’ve worked my whole life for this,” Hoffpauir said. “Now the opportunity is here and I’ve got to go out and take advantage of it.”