Wells, Zaun in town for a visit
For me, the reality of how close the season is to getting underway starts to sink in when the Jays hold these end-of-the-offseason charity events. It’s freezing outside and I brave the cold to go cover the functions and talk to the players who made the trip to Toronto, and you end up talking a lot about how it’s cold and you can’t wait to get to Florida. On Wednesday, Vernon Wells and Gregg Zaun showed up at the Liberty Grand, where the Jays were holding their third annual Reverse Draw.
What could’ve been a whole lot of nothing turned into two very good, lengthy conversations with both players. In fact, so much was talked about that much of it will never appear in any published articles. There was some good tidbits that I’ll fill you all in on here, though.
–While not a whole lot of what either player said was "newsworthy," meaning we mainly just discussed the recent moves Toronto has made or how each guy’s offseason has gone, there were some interesting comments from both players. Wells admitted being happy that the Jays didn’t trade away Alex Rios or Reed Johnson in order to solve the pitching issues:
"I talked to [Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi] and we discussed some things and by no means did he want to trade either one of those guys. Those guys are going to be at the top of our lineup most likely and be the catalyst for this lineup. We needed those guys and I’m very thankful we were able to keep them in the fold."
–Wells also had some interesting comments about new Boston pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka:
"I didn’t face him [in the World Baseball Classic], but I saw him pitch when we went over for the Japan tour. There was one game I didn’t play in and he two-hit our team in a heartbeat. It was interesting and fun to watch and I’m glad I had that day off."
"He has command of everything, which normally you’ll find with Japanese pitchers — they have command of all their pitches. And he’s not afraid of you — no matter who you are. He’s going to throw his fastball and he’s going to throw his gyro ball or whatever. Hopefully we just make enough contact on that thing to do some damage."
"I’ll just watch [the gyro ball] the first time he throws it to me. If I look stupid, you guys understand — it’s a gyro ball. It’s not supposed to do that. Sooner or later I’ll figure it out. … You guys may not notice, but I’ve had some ugly swings that have worked sometimes. We’ll see what happens."
–Zaun had a much praise for Toronto’s acquisitions of John Thomson, Tomo Ohka and, most recently, Victor Zambrano:
"I know Ohka a little bit from my brief time with Montreal. He’s one of those guys who chews up innings. He keeps you in the ballgame. … Hopefully we can get him healthy and get him out there and see what he can do. The split-finger is an outstanding pitch. He’s a control fastball type of guy. Thomson and Zambrano are sinker, slider type of guys."
"Zambrano can be absolutely downright nasty. You don’t see a team like the Mets trade away a guy like Scott Kazmir for somebody who’s not talented. This guy is very talented. He was the ace of the staff in Tampa Bay and I know a lot of teams wanted him at that point. Unfortunately for him, he’s been injured. Maybe he can make the road back. "
That’s all for now. Today makes it officially two weeks until I leave for Spring Training. The offseason has been nice, but I’m more than ready to get back into the grind of the baseball season. Stay tuned for more…