Toronto audition ends too soon for Hoffpauir

A week ago today, Jarrett Hoffpauir had two hits and a sacrifice bunt to help lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a 6-1 win over New York at Yankee Stadium.

In only his second stint in the majors, the 27-year-old Hoffpauir practically floated off the field. But he quickly was brought down to earth by Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, who told him he was being sent down to Las Vegas.

"You’re kind of going from one of the biggest highs to the biggest lows in a matter of 10 minutes," said Hoffpauir, who homered and singled in the 51s’ eight-run fourth inning Thursday and finished 2-for-4 in their 9-8 victory over the Salt Lake Bees at Cashman Field.

Hoffpauir was flawless in the field in nine games as the Blue Jays’ starting third baseman, but he batted .214 (6-for-28) with a double and no RBIs.

"I played good defensively, but I didn’t hit as good as I wanted to," he said.

Promoted to Toronto on June 22 to replace the struggling Edwin Encarnacion, Hoffpauir was demoted Monday to make room for him.

Encarnacion, who will make $4.75 million this season, made five errors in seven games for the 51s but batted .438 with three homers and 13 RBIs.

Still, Hoffpauir said he didn’t expect to get sent down so soon. "I figured I would get a little more time to kind of prove myself," he said. "When you’re only there for a week and a half, two weeks, it’s hard.

"But they had a guy making a lot of money down here. When you’re paying a guy that much money, they’re going to keep him in the big leagues."

The 5-foot-9-inch, 190-pound Hoffpauir, who hit for the cycle twice in 34 days for the 51s earlier this season, plays second and third base for Las Vegas. But manager Dan Rohn said the seventh-year pro isn’t ready to be an everyday third baseman in the majors.

"He’s more of a utility guy who can play second and third a couple times a week. He’s not going to go up there and hit 20 homers," Rohn said. "He’s got to keep working at it, and hopefully the right situation comes up for him."

A sixth-round draft pick of the Cardinals in 2004, Hoffpauir made his major league debut for St. Louis last season, batting .250 (3-for-12) in eight games. He also hit .291 with a career-high 14 homers and 53 RBIs last year in 108 games for Triple-A Memphis.

Claimed off waivers by Toronto, Hoffpauir is batting .320 for the 51s with 10 homers and 46 RBIs in 61 games.

"I felt like I did everything I could do here early in the year, and to get (to the majors) and only spend two weeks, it’s frustrating," he said. "But you’ve got to overcome it and keep playing hard and hopefully they give you another shot."

■ NOTE — Former 51s infielder Luis Figueroa, who was released by Toronto on June 30 despite batting .326 for Las Vegas, returned to Cashman Field on Thursday as a member of the Bees and had two hits and two RBIs.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.

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