Game #8 Jays at Red Sox

UPDATE — 9:38 pm: Ryan Patterson, one of Toronto’s top outfield prospects, broke an arm when hit by a pitch during the game against Boston on Thursday. Last season, the 23-year-old Patterson hit .277 with 25 home runs and 89 RBIs in 133 games between high-Class A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire. He’s Toronto’s fourth-best prospect, according to Baseball America. There will be more details on Friday.

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Wait, there was a game in Fort Myers today? And it counted in the Grapefruit League standings? Huh, that’s funny, because Toronto kept it’s "A" squad back in Dunedin for a "B" game against the Phillies on Thursday. Neither myself, nor the majority of the Toronto press corps, made the trip to City of Palms Park. So, here’s what went down at Knology Park instead:

Philadelphia at Toronto
at Knology Park in Dunedin, Fla.

Today’s lineups:

PHILLIES
Michael Bourn, CF
Danny Sandoval, SS
Gregg Dobbs, LF
Jayson Werth, RF
Ron Calloway, DH
Jason Hill, 1B
Andrew Beattie, 2B
Michael Costanzo, 3B
Ryan Budde, C

PITCHING: Adam Eaton

BLUE JAYS
Reed Johnson, LF
Alex Rios, CF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Frank Thomas, DH
Troy Glaus, 3B
Matt Stairs, RF
Gregg Zaun, C
Aaron Hill, 2B
Royce Clayton, SS

PITCHING: A.J. Burnett

Thomas made his unofficial debut for the Blue Jays, going 1-for-3 with an RBI single in the first inning. Following an eight-pitch at-bat, Johnson led off the first with a single. He then moved to second on a base-hit by Rios, moved to third on a 6-4-3 double play, and then scored when Thomas roped a single up the middle.

"Hopefully it’ll be over 100 [RBIs] for him, and over 100 [runs] for me. That’d be awesome," Johnson said afterward.

Johnson and Rios were also making their debuts in the field this spring. Johnson has been out with a sore lower back, which in turn was causing strain on his right oblique muscle, but he’s been cleared to play. Rios has been bothered by a sore right shoulder, and has been serving as a DH. Now, he’s cleared to play, too.

Burnett gave up three runs in three innings, and admitted to having trouble locating his fastball early on in the outing. He began mixing in a handful of curveballs, but the righty was focussing on his fastball and changeup in the start.

HOW HEAVY IS IT? You’ve probably read somewhere already about the piece of rebar that Thomas uses to warm up before each at-bat. It’s a steel rod that is normally used to reinforce concrete. It’s been estimated to weight anwhere between seven and 60 pounds.

An assistant trainer for the White Sox found it on a construction site in 1991 and brought it to Sarasota, which used to be Chicago’s spring site. Thomas took to swinging it before at-bats and has used it over the last 17 years. When asked today how much the steel rod weighed, Thomas smiled and said, "Man, I don’t know. It’s heavy — real heavy. Maybe 30 or 35 pounds?"

GOOD IMAGE OF THE DAY: Toronto outfielder Adam Lind grew up roughly four hours away from Chicago and he used to make trips to the Windy City to see Thomas play for the White Sox. Now, the 23-year-old rookie gets to share the locker room with the 6-foot-5, 275-pound slugger.

On Thursday, while Thomas signed autographs outside, team trainer George Poulis picked up the Big Hurt’s bag to bring it into the clubhouse (he dropped the rebar in the process, causing Thomas and the crowd to let out a big laugh). Lind scooted over to pick up th rebar and carried it inside.

Later, Thomas sat in front of his locker, getting ready for his workout, and Lind stood nearby, striking up a conversation with the slugger. Lind was fidgeting back and forth, and he couldn’t stop smiling while he talked with Thomas — one of his childhood heroes. It was just a nice moment between a future Hall of Famer and a young up-and-comer.

THAT OTHER GAME: So the Jays did play that game against Boston after all. Tomo Ohka struck out two and gave up just one hit over three shutout innings. Utility man Jason Smith homered in his second straight game.

On deck: John Thomson is scheduled to pitch three innings and Victor Zambrano two against the Astros Friday afternoon in Dunedin. It’ll also be Thomas’ official debut.

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