TORONTO — I understand that the Toronto fan base loves Reed Johnson. He’s the type of player fans tend to love and, that being the case, I’m all for giving the guy a warm welcome this weekend in his first trip north since being released by the Jays and signed by the Cubs.
All that being said, the timing of his standing ovation by the Jays’ fans at Rogers Centre on Friday night was a little unsettling. With Toronto leading 3-2 in the ninth, Johnson came on as a pinch hitter and received a loud, prolonged standing o. In that situation, why were the fans cheering so loudly for a visiting player?
“You don’t see that too often,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. “But hey, I’m happy for him, man. He did a great job here for this organization and was a fan favorite.”
Still, root for the man in a situation like this afternoon, when he’ll lead off the game for the Cubs. I’m not saying the fans should’ve booed him on Friday, but shouldn’t the cheers be reserved for the home team in that critical situation, especially when closer B.J. Ryan had been struggling some of late?
“I think we all think that he deserves it. No question,” said A.J. Burnett, downplaying the crowd’s ill-timed cheers.
But what if Johnson had homered to tie the game instead of groudning out to second? Would the crowd have gone nuts for Johnson then?
“That would be different,” Burnett said with a grin. “Good thing he hit it hard. Better for us he hit it right at somebody.”
On another note, talked to second baseman Aaron Hill this morning and he’s still fighting symptoms from the concussion he suffered on May 29. That being the case, a Minor League rehab stint this week seems unlikely. Hill said he’s still running into issues after light drills — not good. You can read the full story when it’s up on bluejays.com
CHICAGO (43-25) at TORONTO (35-34)
at 1:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre
Reed Johnson, LF
Kosuke Fukudome, RF
Derrek Lee, 1B
Aramis Ramirez, DH
Jim Edmonds, CF
Mark DeRosa, 3B
Mike Fontenot, 2B
Henry Blanco, C
Ronny Cedeno, SS
PITCHING: RHP Jason Marquis (4-3, 4.54)
Alex Rios, RF
Matt Stairs, DH
Scott Rolen, 3B
Vernon Wells, CF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Brad Wilkerson, LF
David Eckstein, SS
Joe Inglett, 2B
PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay (8-5, 3.07)