The gloves were popping

You know it’s early in Spring Training when the manager pulls a roster out of his pocket to see who’s pitching on the mounds in front of him. Toronto’s pitchers and catchers took part in the first official workout on Saturday, and manager John Gibbons was getting acquainted with a few of the new faces and young pitchers taking the hills.

The sun came out today, making for a more enjoyable day out on the ball fields. Pitchers took turns firing fastballs, and moved to one of the diamonds to work on fielding drills. Catchers spent time behind the dish and in the batting cage at the Bobby Mattick Training center.

Morning physicals took place without any casualities, but right-hander Brandon League is dealing with a tight hamstring. It’s not serious, according to Gibbons, which is good news for the Jays. League is the leading candidate for Toronto’s setup job.

Pitcher Ty Taubenheim came into camp looking trimmer and said he dropped about 15 pounds over the winter. A.J. Burnett and Brian Tallet both arrived sporting long locks. Tallet, who cycles through hair styles throughout any given season, showed up with a shoulder-length ‘do. Reed Johnson arrived with a longer chin beard — think back to when Jeff Bagwell showed up with the extra-long gotee.

All hair styles and fitness updates aside, we did talk some baseball on Saturday. Gibbons would like his pitchers to get quicker to home plate in order to cut back on opposing teams’ stolen-base totals this season. Toronto gave up an AL-worst 130 swipes in 2006.

Gibbons also said that Shaun Marcum would most likely make the club’s bullpen if he didn’t win a rotation job. Casey Janssen, Dustin McGowan, and Taubenheim — on the other hand — would start in the rotation at Triple-A. And concerning the bullpen, Francisco Rosario and Brian Tallet are each out of options.

Tomo Ohka and Victor Zambrano (visa issues) weren’t the only ones having problems getting to Dunedin, either. Toronto third base coach Brian Butterfield has been unable to get to Florida because of inclimate weather. He’s been stuck in Maine, but is expected to arrive some time on Sunday.

That’s all I got for you tonight. It’s 1:26 a.m. (why am I still up?) and tomorrow’s workout kicks off at 9:30 a.m. I guess I should hit the sack. I was up watching the slam dunk contest, which I was disappointed in. The only thing that made watching the NBA All-Star coverage tonight remotely worthwhile was seeing Charles Barkley in a race with a 67-year-old referee and barely winning.

On that note…


That Dwight Howard sticker dunk was amazing!

OK, Howard’s dunk was pretty sweet. But the contest as a whole — partly due to Howard not getting his props for that slam — was disappointing. None of the other slams really were anything we haven’t already seen before, either. Anyway, back to baseball…

Problem is there’s only so much that’s humanly possible.
The only way to entertain is to change it up with more props, and gimicks like putting microphones on the players.

And giving the judges the benifit of replay is a must.

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