DUNEDIN, Fla. — Any fears caused by the recent reports that Toronto’s A.J. Burnett was a little behind the other pitchers should be put to rest. The man threw against hitters today and looked primed for game action.
Burnett worked in his fastball and changeup and looked to be throwing at about 70-80 percent effort. He’ll start adding in the hook after he gets a few Grapefruit League contests under his belt.
Basically, Burnett had a quiet winter and he and the Jays decided to just take a more gradual approach to these first two weeks of camp. Once the spring schedule starts, he’ll be ready to pitch an inning or two, as is customary for the first appearances. There’s nothing to suggest that his slower program is any reason for concern.
B.J. Ryan also threw in the bullpen on Friday and the Jays plan on calling his doc — Tim Kremcheck — after Ryan’s next ‘pen on Monday. The closer’s program called for 10-12 bullpens before Ryan could face hitters and he’s currently through nine. So, Ryan may start throwing in Grapefruit League games early on, too.
Learned today: Frank Thomas intends on referring to Sal Fasano as "the dancing bear" — in reference to the veteran catcher’s soft hands, which can "make any pitch look good." Thomas also referred to Marco Scutaro as "my ninja" — a nickname apparently leftover from their days together in Oakland.
Toronto pitching coach Brad Arnsberg also noted that Jesse Litsch will line up in the No. 5 spot for the spring rotation, but don’t go getting all worked up about it. Casey Janssen is being stretched out and will be piggybacking on somebody’s starts, though there are plenty of people in the organization who seem to prefer keeping Casey in the bullpen.
I also introduced myself to hitting coach Gary Denbo today (I would’ve sooner, but the guy always seems to be in the batting cage working!) and my first impression was "Ow." The man has a real man’s handshake — a manshake, if you will. He about crushed my fingers. I don’t know how that can translate into boosting the offense, but it certainly can’t hurt. He’s definitely good people.
After a few days of physicals and photo shoots, the sked returns tomorrow with stretch at 9:30 a.m. I’ll be there… In the meantime, you can check out the new additions to the spring photo album.