It's gotta be the shoes

TORONTO — Asked Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston about that “hit batter” episode from Sunday night’s game. Turns out that the explanation from homeplate ump Hunter Wendelstedt left Gaston scratching his head.

“A scuff mark on his shoe. I had never heard that one before,” said Gaston, still shaking his head in disbelief.

Replays of the fifth-inning pitch in question from Jays lefty David Purcey clearly showed the ball bounce in the dirt before “hitting” Rangers third baseman Travis Metcalf. The play proved large considering that, two batters later, Gerald Laird took Purcey deep to put Texas ahead for good.

Gaston said initially it was ruled that Metcalf wasn’t hit by the pitch, but when the third baseman returned to home plate, he showed the scuff mark on his shoe — supposedly created by the ball. That was enough for Wendelstedt, who then ruled that the batter was hit by the pitch.

On to today’s game…

Mighty Joe Inglett was a late scratch due to a sore left knee. Scott Rolen was out of the lineup again — a planned day off to rest his fatigued left shoulder. Gaston said he’d like to get to the point where he can play Rolen in 3-4 straight games with a day off after. With Inglett out and Scutaro at third, Eckstein started at second base again.

“With what’s going on with Rolen, maybe he’ll get some more playing time there,” Gaston said of Eckstein.

Prior to the game, center fielder Vernon Wells (injured left hamstring) took batting practice, ran the bases and even worked on some slides into second. Gaston said he hopes Wells can be ready to be activated — perhaps for DH duty at first — in time for Toronto’s coming road swing through Detroit and Boston.

Oh, and Frank Thomas is back in Toronto for the first time since being cut by the Jays.

Today’s lineups:

OAKLAND (53-57) at TORONTO (55-56)
at 6:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Jack Hannahan, 3B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Jack Cust, LF
Frank Thomas, DH
Carlos Gonzalex, CF
Emil Brown, RF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Bobby Crosby, SS
Daric Barton, 1B

PITCHING: RHP Sean Gallagher (1-0, 3.22)

Marco Scutaro, 3B
David Eckstein, 2B
Alex Rios, CF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Adam Lind, LF
Matt Stairs, DH
Brad Wilkerson, RF
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay (12-8, 2.85)

QUOTABLE: “This is what I dreamed of as a child — plain and simple. You grow up wanting to be a Major League Baseball player. The Olympics is, obviously, the top athletes in the world — an amazing venue. It’s just kind of bad timing.” –Jays starter Scott Richmond, on the “controversy” of being promoted to Toronto just before he was due to fly to Beijing with Team Canada


I remember being in a suite at the Rogers Centre when Joe Carter hit his home run. We had 8 guys in the suite and had to yell almost as loud as one can yell in order to hear each other, no more than 3-4 feet apart. Skydome used to flash a sound decibal level on the video board and at times it reached 120+ in there. People who understand audio know what I’m talking about.

For me, part of the baseball experience is what happens in the stadium. All sports franchises today spend huge amounts of money trying to improve the fan game experience. What better way of improving the fan experience is there than having 55,000 screaming fans in the dome with the roof closed. It is an energizing experience-it really is. One doesn’t really understand what I mean, unless they have experienced it. I can tell Burt has and feels the same way I do.

Fans in this city, province and country loved supporting this team. We watched them grow in front of our eyes, improve year after year, saw young rookies break the ranks and then deliver the goods and then finally we added those last few guys through free agency and won. We won twice in a row, that doesn’t happen often.

It was an amazing experience, something to be part of that I enjoyed like so many others. At the same as the team improved, fan support improved from 2 million to 3 million to setting a new MLB record of over 4 million fans per year or over 48,000 per game. As fan unfriendly as Skydome was in those years, the fan experience at those games was unbelievable and something to remember.

I want those times again, I want to go to games with 50,000 other fans. I want to win, not just tread water like we have for the last 15 years. The last 7 years are pretty much a write off, I hope the next seven aren’t.

Good point. Maybe if Mr. Rogers is willing to spend the same amount of money or more than the BoSox and Yankees, like the good ‘ole days where they won the 2 championships, the Jays’ could field a championship team again. That might draw in 50 000 fans again, and generate more revenue to make up for these extra salary dollars.

rene-I think you miss the point. The reason we won, was because we built a team from draft choices and smart trades and then only spent the big bucks to get over the hump at the end.

Spending huge funds to sign free agent’s doesn’t work without building the base first.

It looks like we have another position where we have huge depth and that is 1st base.
In Auburn (rookie), we have Adam Amar and Michael McDade ( Mcdade was sent down from Lansing when Cooper was sent up and has been on a roll ever since).
Adam Amar: .353BA/.401OBP/.589 slg, 8 hrs, 32 rbis” in 39 games.
Michale McDade: .372BA/.410OBP/.472Slg
In Lansing ( A-), our first rounder, David Cooper: .366BA/.422OBP/.538Slg
In Dunedin (A+): Brian Dobirak: .299BA/.375OBP/.560Slg. Brian is leading the league with hr’s-26, rbi’s-86 all in 103 games.
What is interesting is that although the talent we have in either AA or AAA is slim, we’re not pushing these guys up the ladder.

Thanks for the update, Gsumner. I would like to see the Jays be a little more proactive with its promotions. A lot of these young guys should be moved up to AAA. It would be great if they could play together for a whole season, and perhaps win a championship. I am not a big fan of inserting a player here and a player there into the current MLB squad. If we had a solid MLB team, that would be different. But I would like to see us develop an excellent AAA team then move a significant part of it to the majors, while trading guys like Rios, Overbay, Rolen, and a few others for young talent to replenish the minors. A young team that plays .500 ball at the mlb level for a couple of years is much more interesting to watch and root for, in my opinion, than a .500 team filled with older players, like Wilkerson, Mench, and a host of others.

I find it very odd how back and forth some of you guys are at times. On one hand you’ll trash J.P. for not being able to draft then go on and on about the prospects they have (at first, the outfield: Lind, Snider. catching: Diaz, Arencibia, Thigpen, and pitching: Cecil, Purcey, Marcum, Janssen etc.)
You’ll also imply that J.P. has ruined this team for a long time to come with long term contracts neglecting to mention/keep in mind that, should they choose to spend up to 100 million again next year they’ll have $30 million this offseason to pursue a slugger and or shortstop/second baseman.
At the time Rolen for Glaus was made many of you praised him for it, I was among them who did. Hindsight is always 20/20.
To Burt for bringing up a winning culture, other then the Wings and maybe Devils what other team can you say that about in Hockey ? Believe me I would love for the leafs’ next G.M. to be Ken Holland or Lou Lamerilo but there are only 2 guys like that. In baseball you have Oakland, Boston and New York. 2 of those teams have the highest payroll in baseball. 1 of them is constantly selling away their best players, I don’t know about you but watching guys like Giambi, Hudson, Mulder, Zito, Damon, Harden etc develop and then get traded away for more prospects isn’t exactly my idea of growing with them and don’t look now by the way but they are behind Toronto now.
Finally, I read a comment last night that said something along the lines of if they sign Teixera and get a shortstop this team will contend for years to come (i’m paraphrasing but the point is the same). Quite a contrast from “this team needs to seriously rebuild.” I’ve been saying all along that, in my opinion, they really only need 2 good bats. How is that any different ?
I’m not defending J.P. I just think that some of you guys need to think about what you’re saying. It’s not that bad (at least I don’t think it is) and if it makes you feel any better, chances are he will get fired and i’m sure the next g.m. would like to come in here and supplement the team.

I’m from the group that says we are a couple bats away from being a very good club. Perhaps a few off season signings of Pudge (2 year deal would be nice) a shortstop (Furcal? for a few years) and a slugger (Texiera, FOREVER) and keep the pitching we currently have and we are a very good team.

Imagine this 09 lineup:

With Doc, Burnett (2 mil/year extension) Marcum, Magowan, Purcey/Litsch/Jansen/Cecil/Romero as a rotation and the pen we have now this team could be very very strong. With A few bats coming quick in the minors our DH spot could be filled internally with a Snider type player.

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