DUNEDIN, Fla. — That’s right, Blue Jays Spring Training officially begins today. Sure, that "reporting" day was yesterday, but all that means is the pitchers and catchers had to let the team know they’d arrived (for the most part) in Florida.
On that all-important and much over-hyped reporting day, there certainly wasn’t a shortage of activitiy. The shoddy photocopy of the check (pictured aboce as it appeared in the Mitchell Report) Gregg Zaun was accused of using to buy steroids was the hot topic.
After two months of silence, which the catcher said was needed for him to work out exactly what might’ve happened six years ago, Zaun spoke about being implicated in the report. Basically, to sum it up quickly, he believes he might’ve owed former teammate Jason Grimsley $500 — possibly for losing a bet on a basketball game in 2001.
It’s Zaun’s belief that he hastily scribbled out the check and tossed it to Grimsley in disgust, without penning a name on the pay to section of the check. Then, Zaun thinks it’s plausible that Grimsely wrote the name of former Mets clubhouse steroid dealer Kirk Radomski on said check in order to obtain PEDs.
That’s Zaun’s story, though it’s not what he’s saying DID happen. He’s saying it’s what he believes could’ve happened. It’s an explanation as to why he immediately could tell what was his handwriting on the check compared to someone else’s.
Note Zaun’s careful wording after talking to reporters in Florida: "I wanted to at least offer up an explanation for how my name ends up in that report. Maybe people come away from this and think there’s a possibility that this could’ve happened, because that’s the way I remember it happening."
When he was directly asked if he’d ever used any kind of performance-enchancing drugs, Zaun also chose a vague response: "I have never violated MLB’s drug policy or failed any drug tests."
None of this is to say Zaun is lying. Zaun admits he isn’t sure if his story is precisely what happened six years ago. The only thing he’s adamant about is that he did not write Radomski’s name on the check and he did not receive a package containing steroids at Kansas City’s clubhouse. The basketball bet theory? Just a theory.
The explanation is hardly one that is going to completely satisfy fans or the media, but as far as Zaun’s role in all of this, he said he’s no longer going to speek about the matter. Spring Training is officially on hand and he wants to focus his attention and his quotes on the baseball season at hand. Fair enough.
FASANO UPSET: The situation behind the plate was also a topic yesterday in relation to Sal Fasano. I spoke with him Thursday morning and he relayed some frustration about his current role with the club.
Fasano was under the impression when he signed a Minor League deal in December that he was going to be coming into a situation similar to Matt Stairs a year ago. Yeah, it was a minor deal, but he believed he was still penciled in as the backup catcher. He said GM J.P. Ricciardi gave him his word.
Then, the Jays went and signed Rod Barajas, which surprised Fasano. Now, with Curtis Thigpen and Robinzon Diaz set to be at Triple-A and near the bigs, and Zaun and Barajas with the Jays, Fasano looks to be relegated to limited playing time at Triple-A. "Are they sending me there to play or be a coach?" he said on Thursday.
Now, while I understand Sal’s frustration, and Sal’s definitely one of my favorite guys in the clubhouse (being a fellow Chicagoan helps), I can’t completely side with him here. If Ricciardi gave him his word, OK, that carries some weight. But Fasano did sign a Minor League deal and us scribes were actively writing that Toronto was still searching for a backup. The writing was on the wall.
I just think Sal sees the extent of his situation and he wouldn’t mind seeing if he could find a better opportunity elsewhere. Ricciardi said he’d be willing to oblige if need be: "I’ll talk to Sal. Butwe made it really clear to his representative that, obviously, if things don’t work out here, we’d do everything in our power to trade him or to let him go. We’re not here to hurt Sal. If someone else wants him, we would not stand in the way."
OK, with that, I’m going to get ready to head over to The Mattick. The first official workout set for today isn’t scheduled until 2 p.m. ET. Before that, pitchers and catchers have physicals and some meetings. I’ll be heading over early to see if anything is going on.
The only no-shows so far have been Robinzon Diaz (visa issues), Gus Chacin (Ricciardi believes he’ll be in camp today) and Barajas (don’t see why he wouldn’t be there today, too). A.J. Burnett and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg arrived yesterday, as well as Reed Johnson and Frank Thomas.
Also, if you didn’t read Bob Elliott’s piece on Roy Halladay the other day, do so. Halladay’s close mentor, Bus Campbell, passed away at the age of 87 at his home in Colorado. A lot of who Halladay is today the pitcher credits to Campbell.