Over the last two weeks, the sounds of spring have been arriving. First came the popping of baseballs being fired into gloves when pitchers and catchers began their workouts. Then came the crack of the bat when position players started to trickle in to the batting cages. Today, we finally heard the "Striiiiiiii!" call of an umpire, who was behind the plate for Toronto’s first intrasquad game of Spring Training.
TEAM 1 STARTERS: Reed Johnson, LF; Russ Adams, 2B; Lyle Overbay, 1B; Gregg Zaun, C; Jason Smith, 3B; John-Ford Griffin, RF; Chad Mottola, DH; Sergio Santos, SS; Jeff Duncan, CF; and RHP Dustin McGowan starting, followed by Casey Janssen, Blaine Neal, Josh Banks and Tracy Thorpe in relief.
TEAM 2 STARTERS: John McDonald, SS; Adam Lind, LF; Vernon Wells, CF; Alex Rios, DH; Aaron Hill, 2B; Kevin Barker, 1B; Jason Phillips, C; John Hattig, 3B; Mike Vento, CF; and RHP Tomo Ohka starting, followed by Ty Taubenheim, Ryan Houston, Ismael Ramirez, Matt Roney and Brian Wolfe in relief.
BOX: 123 456 FINAL
TEAM 2 — 000 000 — 0
TEAM 1 — 100 100 — 2
BOTTOM OF THE FIRST: Johnson led off the inning with a single to right field against Ohka, and then he moved to third base on a single by Adams. Overbay than sliced a ball into shallow left field to score Johnson.
BOTTOM OF THE FOURTH: After retiring Smith, and throwing five consecutive strikes, Ramirez faltered with his control and walked Griffin with one out. Including the four straight balls to Griffin, eight of Ramirez’s last 15 pitches were balls. Catcher Sal Fasano doubled to the right-center gap, but Griffin held at third base. Eric Kratz came in to hit and subsequently singled home Griffin.
That did it for the scoring. This game was dominated by pitching. Taubenheim looked great, retiring three quick outs in the second with just 10 pitches — eight for strikes. He tallied the game’s first two strikeouts. Rosario (9 pitches-6 strikes), Janssen (13-10), Houston (13-11) and Neal (14-12) all looked solid, too.
OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: On the first play of the game, Adams made a spectacular diving grab to his left into the hole between first and second base. Unfortunately, he then misfired the ball wildly out of Overbay’s reach, allowing McDOnald to reach first. Adams made up for it, though, turning a sweet-looking 6-4-3 double play with Santos to end the inning.
After Fasano reached third base on Kratz’s single in the fourth, the catcher attempted to score on a line drive out to deep center field off the bat of Rob Cosby. Minor Leaguer Aaron Mathews fired a bullet to home plate, beating Fasano by a few steps.
In the third, McDonald hit a hard grounder up the middle that bounced off Janssen’s left ankle. The baseball flew toward first base and McDonald was retired easily. Janssen was checked out by Toronto’s medical staff and was able to walk away fine.
FEELING SORE: Seeing Rios in as the DH looked a bit odd, but it is just an intrasquad game in the early portion of the spring. When I saw him playing catch with team trainer George Poulis before the game, I wondered if something was up. Apparently it isn’t anything serious, otherwise Rios wouldn’t have been in the game at all. But Jays manager John Gibbons said the right fielder has been bothered by a tender right shoulder for the past two weeks. We didn’t hear about it until Monday.
MANANA: Toronto will have a second intrasquad game at 11 a.m. ET on Tuesday at the Bobby Mattick Training Center in Dunedin, Fla. Roy Halladay will not be pitching, seeing as he threw in a side session on Monday. He is slated to start the Grapefruit League opener against Boston on Thursday at Knology Park. Pitchers A.J. Burnett, B.J. Ryan, Gustavo Chacin, John Thomson, Josh Towers and Victor Zambrano, along with some others, are scheduled to pitch in Tuesday’s game.
ROTATION: After Halladay on Thursday, the Jays plan on sending Chacin, Burnett, Thomson and Towers to the hill as the starters in the following four games. Ohka will piggyback Burnett on Saturday, and Shaun Marcum will follow Thomson in Sunday’s game against the D-Rays in St. Petersburg. Halladay and Burnett are still in line to be the Nos. 1-2 starters come Opening Day.
That about does it for today’s intrasquad blog coverage. Considering who’s pitching tomorrow, the pitchers will probably still be ahead of the hitters. Frank Thomas, Royce Clayton, Matt Stairs and Troy Glaus will still be sitting out on Tuesday. Nothing’s wrong with them, Gibbons is just letting the veterans get some extra rest before the exhibition games begin.
Stay tuned for more…