While holding court with the press Wednesday afternoon inside the visitor’s clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, Ricciardi was asked if this year was the worst it’s been injury-wise for the GM since taking the helm for the Jays.
After starting to nod his head, running the list of walking wounded through his head (B.J. Ryan, Reed Johnson, Troy Glaus, Gregg Zaun, Brandon League, John Thomson, Davis Romero), Ricciardi aborted a "Yes" answer and cited the 2004 season.
"Now that I’m thinking about it, the year we only won 67 games was pretty horrible," Ricciardi said. "Every time the phone rang, I wanted to run the other way. I mean, we had won 86 games the year before and at the very least we expected to be over .500."
Through June that year, consider the sheer number of players who landed on the DL for Toronto: Carlos Delgado, Vernon Wells, Roy Halladay, Frank Catalanotto, Justin Speier, Orlando Hudson, Chris Woodward, Greg Myers, Kevin Cash, Justin Miller, Kerry Lightenberg, Bobby Estalella, and Valerio De Los Santos.
"I remember listening on the radio one night," Ricciardi continued. "We were playing San Diego and [broadcaster] Jerry Coleman was saying, ‘Now batting, Howie Clark and on deck, Frank Menechino. Who the **** are these guys?’"
This season, Ricciardi at least has a little more depth to work with. Adam Lind has been a sound replacement in left field, Toronto could do a whole lot worse than Jason Frasor as its closer, and John McDonald and Jason Smith have done a solid job holding down the fort at third base. Sal Fasano hasn’t played yet, but that’s another veteran to step in now that Zaun is out.
"We have some positional depth that we didn’t have before," Ricciardi said. "We’ve got some pitchers in place who can step in if need be, too. The one important thing is not to lose the guy who was on the mound [Wednesday] night."
That’d be Mr. Halladay, who is 3-0 with a 2.58 so far this season.
BEEN THERE, SEEN THAT: Jays manager John Gibbons wasn’t at all surprised to see all the hype surrounding the big-league debut of Yankees rookie Phil Hughes. After all, Gibbons can recall first hand what the atmosphere was like when Dwight "Doc" Gooden was breaking in with the Mets in 1984.
"As far as the hype, New York can do that for you," Gibbons said. "You could see how good [Gooden] was. It was just whether or not he could handle that hype. He was a rare guy, too. Those guys don’t come around too often. This kid might be one."
That "kid" being Hughes, who was touched up for four runs in 4 1/3 innings by the Jays Thursday night. It wasn’t all icing on the cake when Gooden started off, either.
On April 13, 1984, Gibbons was behind the plate for the Mets at Wrigley Field for Gooden’s second-ever start. The starter’s line that evening? 3 1/3 innings, 6 runs, 7 hits, 4 strikeouts and three walks. Gooden finished ’84 with a 17-9 record and a 2.60 ERA. So, Hughes might be alright after all.