June 2007

Game #65: Jays at Giants pregame

Toronto (30-34) at San Francisco (30-34)
at 3:35 p.m. ET at AT&T Park

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Howie Clark, 1B
Alex Rios, CF
Matt Stairs, RF
Troy Glaus, 3B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, LF
Royce Clayton, SS
Jason Phillips, C
Dustin McGowan, P

GIANTS
Dave Roberts, CF
Nate Schierholtz, RF
Randy Winn, LF
Ryan Klesko, 1B
Ray Durham, 2B
Pedro Feliz, 3B
Kevin Frandsen, SS
Guillermo Rodriguez, C
Tim Lincecum, P

NOTES: Prior to the game, the Jays designated veteran catcher Sal Fasano for assignment and purchased the contract of RHP Lee Gronkiewicz from Double-A New Hampshire. … RHP A.J. Burnett (strained right shoulder) underwent an MRI exam before Wednesday’s game, but the results weren’t immediately available. Toronto manager John Gibbons said Burnett will likely skip his next start, and Josh Towers would take his place against the Nationals on Sunday. … Since last homering on May 20, Vernon Wells has hit .188 with no home runs and nine RBIs over 21 games. He was given the day off on Wednesday.

Burnett leaves with shoulder strain

Toronto starter A.J. Burnett left Tuesday night’s game against the Giants with a strain of the right shoulder. After the Jays’ loss, the pitcher said he thinks it could be a result of fatigue — throwing 372 pitches over three starts can do that to a guy — and he’ll probably have to miss at least one start.

This is unrelated to the elbow issue last year or any other issue he’s had throught the eight trips to the DL over his nine seasons. He’ll go through some more tests on Wednesday, when the Jays will know more about the extent of the injury. He’s hoping to avoid a trip to the DL (the Jays can only hope with 11 guys landing on that fateful list already this year).

Toronto manager John Gibbons said the Jays will add another pitcher to the bullpen for Wednesday’s finale with the Giants. That also means someone will have to be demoted. That could mean the days of carrying four catchers are no longer. We’ll see what happens. I’m outta here. Quick turnarounds are always fun when you’re fighting jetlag.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: The pressbox here at AT&T Park is VERY close to the field and the stands. So as people leave the game, their are eye level with us reporters in the ‘box. One woman walking by after the game pointed to the pressbox and said to her friend, "These are all the bloggers and internet people." Yeah, nevermind all the newspaper writers. Remember when those existed?

Game #64: Jays at Giants pregame

Toronto (30-33) at San Francisco (29-34)
at 10:15 p.m. ET at AT&T Park

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Royce Clayton, SS
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Troy Glaus, 3B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Curtis Thigpen, 1B
Adam Lind, LF
Jason Phillips, C
A.J. Burnett, P

GIANTS
Dave Roberts, CF
*Nate Schierholtz, RF
Ryan Klesko, 1B
Barry Bonds, LF
Ray Durham, 2B
Bengie Molina, C
Pedro Feliz, 3B
Omar Vizquel, SS
Noah Lowry, P

*RF Randy Winn was a late scratch with a strained rib cage

NOTES: Toronto manager John Gibbons inserted Clayton into the leadoff spot for the first time this season. Gibbons hoped the move could possibly put more runners on base for Rios — instead of having the pitcher hit ahead of the Jays’ leading home run hitter. … Gibbons said the rotation would be Roy Halladay, Shaun Marcum and Burnett for the Friday-Sunday series against the Nats in Toronto. The Jays won’t require a fifth starter (Josh Towers) until Saturday, June 23. … Toronto signed 12 of its draft picks, but none from rounds 1-5.

Game #63: Jays at Giants pregame

Toronto (30-32) at San Francisco (28-34)
at 10:15 p.m. ET at AT&T Park

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Alex Rios, RF
Matt Stairs, 1B
Vernon Wells, CF
Troy Glaus, 3B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, LF
Jason Phillips, C
John McDonald, SS
Josh Towers, P

GIANTS
Dave Roberts, CF
Randy Winn, RF
Ryan Klesko, 1B
Barry Bonds, LF
Ray Durham, 2B
Bengie Molina, C
Pedro Feliz, 3B
Omar Vizquel, SS
Matt Morris, P

NOTES: Entering the game, the Giants hadn’t scored in 21 innings. … Even after saying Sunday that he had "thought about" hitting Wells leadoff and possibly moving Rios to the middle of the lineup, Toronto manager John Gibbons stuck with the usual Rios at No. 1 and Wells at No. 3 order. Coming off an 11-run, 16-hit outburst against the Dodgers, Gibbons decided to stick with nearly an identical lineup vs. the Giants. … Former Jay update: Molina came into Monday’s game hitting .308 with six homers and 33 RBIs in 54 games; RHP Vinnie Chulk, traded to acquire RHP Jeremy Accardo last year, was 1-2 with a 3.33 ERA in 27 games; and former Jay Willie Upshaw (1978-87) is San Fran’s current first base coach. … Celeb sightings: by the Dodgers clubhouse after Sunday’s game — actress Alyssa Milano; at LAX airport this morning — rocker David Grohl.

Game #62: Jays at Dodgers pregame

Toronto (29-32) at Los Angeles (35-27)
at 4:0 p.m. ET at Dodger Stadium

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Alex Rios, RF
Matt Stairs, 1B
Vernon Wells, CF
Troy Glaus, 3B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, LF
John McDonald, SS
Sal Fasano, C
Roy Halladay, P

DODGERS
Rafael Furcal, SS
Tony Abreu, 2B
Russell Martin, C
Luis Gonzalez, LF
Wilson betemit, 3B
James Loney, 1B
Andre Ethier, RF
Juan Pierre, CF
Jason Schmidt, P

Game #61: Blue Jays at Dodgers pregame

Toronto (28-32) at Los Angeles (35-26)
at 10:10 p.m. ET at Dodger Stadium

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Alex Rios, RF
Matt Stairs, 1B
Vernon Wells, CF
Troy Glaus, 3B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, LF
Jason Phillips, C
John McDonald, SS
Shaun Marcum, P

DODGERS
Rafael Furcal, SS
Tony Abreu, 3B
Nomar Garciaparra, 1B
Jeff Kent, 2B
Luis Gonzalez, LF
Russell Martin, C
Matt Kemp, RF
Juan Pierre, CF
Derek Lowe, P

Game #60: LA-LA Land pregame

Greetings from the pressbox at Dodger Stadium. Over the left-field wall is the famous "Think Blue" sign and below the Dodgers are running through some BP while Jays play catch in right field. L.A. isn’t that far away, but you wouldn’t know it from here, tucked away among the California hills. I was surprised to find that a few other writers, and even Jays manager John Gibbons, weren’t aware of the origins of the name "Dodgers." Before they moved out to L.A., the team got its moniker due to the Brooklynites need to "dodge" the trolleys that ran throughout the borough. Out here in L.A., smog and traffic are two things you’d like to dodge — but can’t. Anyway, I’ll post some pics of the stadium later this weekend. Here’s today’s pregame:

————————————————————————————————-

Toronto (28-31) at Los Angeles (34-26)
at 10:40 p.m. ET at Dodger Stadium

BLUE JAYS
Alex Rios, RF
Matt Stairs, 1B
Vernon Wells, CF
Troy Glaus, 3B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, LF
Jason Phillips, C
Royce Clayton, SS
Dustin McGowan, P

DODGERS
Juan Pierre, CF
Rafael Furcal, SS
Nomar Garciaparra, 1B
Jeff Kent, 2B
Luis Gonzalez, LF
Russell Martin, C
Andre Ethier, RF
Tony Abreu, 3B
Brad Penny, P

NOTES: Jays C Gregg Zaun was activated from the 15-day DL, but is only available as a pinch hitter. He said he believes he’s another week away from being able to catch, because it’s taking time to build his arm strength back up. … Wells was moved back to the three hole after spending three games as Toronto’s No. 2 hitter. … Yes, Toronto is carrying four catchers. And it appears that will be the case for a while longer. C Sal Fasano tweaked his groin a few games ago, but Gibbons said he was available off the bench. … Towers was available out of the bullpen if needed, but would throw in a side session if not used. He’s slated to start for the Jays on Monday against the Giants.

Toronto grabs two first-round picks

The Blue Jays used the 16th overall pick in this year’s draft on Texas high school shortstop Kevin Ahrens, and the 21st selection catcher J.P. Arencibia of U. of Tennessee.

Here’s what Baseball America has to say about each player:

Kevin Ahrens, SS/3b
School: Memorial HS, Houston. Class: Sr.
B-T: B-R. Ht.: 6-2. Wt.: 180. Birthdate: 4/26/88. 
Scouting Report: The best high school hitter in another strong year in Texas, Ahrens repeatedly draws comparisons to Chipper Jones. That holds up on several levels, as Ahrens is a switch-hitter with power and a high school shortstop who will have to move to third base at the next level, whether that’s at Texas A&M or in pro ball. More of a gap-to-gap hitter in the past, Ahrens has gotten stronger and started to turn on his power at the World Wood Bat Championship last fall, hitting a game-winning triple in the quarterfinals and a game-winning homer in the semis before his Houston Heat lost in the championship game. He’s proficient from both sides of the plate, with a sound approach and little effort in his swing. The only thing lacking in Ahrens’ game is speed, as he’s a below-average runner. Though he still sees himself as a shortstop, he’ll definitely have to shift to the hot corner, where his plus arm and soft hands will be assets. In a tremendous year for high school third basemen, Ahrens could be a bit of a steal in the late first round or early supplemental first round.

J.P. Arencibia, c/1b
School: Tennessee. Class: Jr.
B-T: R-R. Ht.: 6-1. Wt.: 195. Birthdate: 1/5/86. 
Scouting Report: Shortly after Julio Borbon broke his ankle in the preseason, Tennessee’s next best hitter, Arencibia, pulled a muscle in his back and was forced out of the lineup until mid-March. He ranked with Borbon among USA Baseball’s college national team’s top prospects last summer after leading the team with nine home runs in 121 at-bats. Power has long been his calling card. The Miami native tied Alex Rodriguez’ Westminster Christian High career record for home runs with 17 and was drafted by the Mariners in the 17th round in 2004. A potential first-rounder entering the season, Arencibia struggled offensively and behind the plate upon returning to the lineup. He’s an aggressive hitter with plus power to all fields. His swing gets long and he tends to have too much of an uppercut stroke. The verdict is out on whether he’ll stay behind the plate as a pro. His receiving skills are rudimentary at best, and his footwork prevents him from getting off better throws despite solid-average to plus arm strength. His stock has slipped, but he won’t make it out of the second round.

Game #59: Rays at Jays on Draft Day

Tampa Bay (25-32) at Toronto (28-30)
at 12:37 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

DEVIL RAYS
B.J. Upton, 2B
Elijah Dukes, CF
Carl Crawford, DH
Greg Norton, LF
Carlos Pena, 1B
Ty Wigginton, 3B
Delmon Young, RF
Dioner Navarro, C
Brendan Harris, SS

PITCHING: RHP Edwin Jackson

BLUE JAYS
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Matt Stairs, 1B
Frank Thomas, DH
Troy Glaus, 3B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, LF
Royce Clayton, SS
Jason Phillips, C

PITCHING: RHP A.J. Burnett

NOTES: Before the game, Toronto designated RHP Tomo Ohka for assignment, meaning the club has 10 days to either trade, release or reassign the pitcher. RHP Josh Towers is now slated to start on Monday in San Francisco. … For now, Toronto is carrying 39 players on its 40-man roster. … C Gregg Zaun is scheduled to be activated from the 15-day DL in L.A. on Friday. He won’t be able to catch yet, but will be available as a pinch hitter. With that being the case, Toronto will temporarily have four catchers: Zaun, Phillips, Sal Fasano and Curtis Thigpen. … 1B Lyle Overbay was back with the Jays after undergoing surgery on his broken right hand. Overbay had four pins inserted into his hand and he hopes to be able to return in four weeks. … The First-Year Player Draft begins at 2 p.m. ET and will be shown/updated live on MLB.com. Toronto has 10 picks in the first five rounds, including the 16th and 21st picks in the first round, three picks in the sandwich round, two in the second round, and one each in round Nos. 3-5. I’ll be handling draft coverage today, while associate reporter Gregor Chisholm reports on the game.

Game #58: Rays at Jays pregame

Tampa Bay (24-32) at Toronto (28-29)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

DEVIL RAYS
B.J. Upton, CF
Brendan Harris, SS
Carl Crawford, LF
Ty Wigginton, 3B
Carlos Pena, 1B
Delmon Young, RF
Jorge Cantu, DH
Dioner Navarro, C
Josh Wilson, 2B

PITCHING: LHP Scott Kazmir

BLUE JAYS
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Troy Glaus, 3B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Jason Phillips, C
Adam Lind, LF
Royce Clayton, SS
Curtis Thigpen, 1B

PITCHING: RHP Tomo Ohka

NOTES: Toronto designated RHP Ismael Ramirez for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster for RHP Jordan De Jong, who had his contract selected from Triple-A Syracuse on Wednesday. RHP Brian Wolfe was optioned back to Triple-A. … Thigpen was making his Major League debut. … De Jong was 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in 13 games with Syracuse. … The Jays would prefer to give C Sal Fasano the day off on Wednesday after he mildly pulled a groin on Tuesday, but the veteran catcher is available off the bench in an emergency. … Tuesday night marked the first time since 1974 that a player drew a leadoff walk and a game-winning walk in the same inning. Toronto’s Aaron Hill did so in the 12-11 win over the D-Rays.

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