Go Green!

BRADENTON, Fla. – I like to think that the green hats being worn by the Pirates and the green bases here at McKechnie Field are a tribute to my Spartans earning a No. 5 seed in the NCAA tourney.

When we weren’t planning where the late-night drinks were to be had on this St. Patty’s Day, us scribes did manage to squeeze in some baseball talk with manager John Gibbons. A lot of the pregame banter focused on A.J. Burnett, who was today’s starter.

Gibbons noted that last time out Burnett started using a slider that he’s been tinkering with. It’s a pitch that might be used early in the season if Burnett’s right index fingernail hasn’t grown in enough to let him use his curveball.

"He’s never thrown that," Gibbons said. "He started tinkering with it last week and he threw some in the game the other day. I always thought it’d be a good pitch for him anyway. Once he gets his curveball back, that’s something he could flip over to get ahead. It’d be easier for him to control."

Gibbons also noted that today’s lineup isn’t necessarily the one he’s going to use this season. He said he’s still debating about whether or not to use lefties Matt Stairs and Lyle Overbay consecutively in the Nos. 6-7 spots (the variation of today’s order that he used the other day). Overbay has hit lefties well over his career, but having lefties back to back could help opposing teams late in games, when lefty specialist pitchers come into play.

Gibbons did not that he does like how using Scott Rolen in the four hole ahead of Frank Thomas adds more speed to the top of the order, but just because he’s tested it out in a few games doesn’t necessarily mean Thomas isn’t the cleanup hitter.

"Just because we’re hitting him fifth doesnt mean we’re going to hit him fifth. You could put Rolen up there [in the No. 4 spot]. Rolen’s one of the better baserunners in the game and that can keep that thing churning pretty good up top," Gibbons said.

Other tidbits:

  • Gibby said that the Jays still plan on bringing most of their regulars to Fort Myers on Wednesday for the ESPN televised Noon game against the Red Sox. Shaun Marcum will stay back in Dunedin for a Minors game, though
  • Reliever Armando Benitez is down for a live BP on Tuesday, and his first game appearance could be against the Yanks on Thursday. GM J.P. Ricciardi noted this week that top pitching prospect Brett Cecil might make an appearance in that game, too.
  • Gibbons reiterated again this morning that B.J. Ryan (making his second Grapefruit League appearance on Monday) probably wouldn’t pitch in back to back games in April, if he breaks with the team. That’ll create some save opps for setup man Jeremy Accardo. On days when Accardo is the closer, Scott Downs would be the primary setup man. Brandon League could figure into the mix, too.
  • Gotta love Thomas this spring. During batting practice, the Big Hurt grabbed a glove and stood at third base, bobbing his head up and down while he listened to tunes on his iPod. He kept the earbuds in with a helmet on when he took BP, too.
  • Some movement…Jays claimed LHP Bill Murphy off waivers from Arizona and placed Casey Janssen (torn labrum) on the 60-day disabled list. Murphy has some limited big-league experience and has bounced around a few organizations.

More later…

8 Comments

Anytime you can pick up one of Arizona’s pitchers on the waiver wire i think thats a good thing. He doesn’t seem that bad.

I gotta wonder if the Jays could get anything for Johnson by way of a trade. It doesn’t look like they’ll need him next year so why not just keep the cheaper Stewart ?

Oh well. Im still pulling for Randy Wells. Quality pick up reliever ! Send Tallet down to the minors and keep Wells.

Jordan,

When in a school zone in Florida, you better do 15 m.p.h. lol….

That is a funny story about not having enough money heading towards the toll. Amen for that sign.

I think the Jays will be the surprise team in 2008.

Burnett I believe will have a solid year. He’ll make his 30 or more starts. He can opt out of his contract and if he has a big year, he will for sure.

Burnett has the stuff of a #1 starter, no doubt.

If Marcum and McGowan do what they did last year. The Jays will be right there to the end.

There bats will be just fine this season. Wells should have a bounce back year. Rolen if he can stay healthy will be a good fit with the Jays. Not much of a long ball threat is Rolen ( 25 homers??? ) but he is a gap hitter and in Toronto he’ll do just fine.

Two of the elite 3b in the league are now in the A.L. East, Lowell and Rolen. Rolen is so much better than Glaus down at third. As Francona said, Rolen has a rocket arm. Francona managed him briefly in Philly.

Alot of pressure on J.P. and Gibbons. If they don’t come thru this year. Those 2 could be gone.

I really think the Jays have a chance to win 90 games and if you do that, alot can happen.

It will be fun for sure, as it always is.

Orioles have 100 losses locked up in 2008. They will be the worst team in baseball.

Jordan,

What do you think of the proposed stadium in downtown St. Pete for the Rays? What a great spot, no doubt. Right on the water, you can’t beat that.

Alot of folks are excited about the Rays this year. I still think they will finish with a losing record. 75 wins perhaps. They could end up with a winning record at home. At least they finally have some decent uniforms, it is about time.

Don’t forget A-rod as THE elite third basemen in the al East. Unless you mean defensively, to which A-rod is still pretty good in my opinion.

Jordan, I read Mike Wilner’s blog and i’m curious when you asked A.j. “how many times have you said that before?” (about his change-up) did he look at you with disdain ?

I am wondering why they resigned Stairs. They have a young hitter in Adam Lind who is suppose to be major league ready. Why not let him platoon with Reed or Shannon? Also I heard that Adam was a 1st baseman, so I’m sure he could fill in for Overbay on occasion. It looks like he is a younger, much younger version of what Matt Stairs role would be with the club. Why not give him a shot if he is suppose to be as good as everyone says?

enigma,

I did mean defensively. Eric Chavez with a great glove as well.

A-Rod of course is the best hitter in the planet. Until the playoffs, as we all know he doesn’t get the job done. Ever since Game 4 of the A.L.C.S. in 2004. He has fallen apart.

The season is right around the corner, AMEN!!!

ENIGMA: All I asked A.J., after he went on and on about how he wants to keep using his changeup during the season (the same story he had last spring), was “How many springs have you said you would keep using the changeup, only to abandon it once the season started?” A.J. has a good sense of humor, so he smiled and in self-depracating fashion said “Seven out of seven springs, probably, when I’m not hurt.” If you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?
~JB

Jordan: I heard Mike’s clip this morning and A.J. did get a little chuckle in. I do remember him saying he’d use his change more last year, and kept waiting for it whenever he was on the mound. Very rarely, if ever, did he use it. As a gut feeling do you believe he will stick to his word this year ?

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