February 2009

A Break in the Action

PleaseStandBy.jpgI’m off to Toronto for a few days to attend to some family matters. I’ll be back at the ballpark on Sunday and will be blogging and tweeting again at that time. Until then, you’re just going to have to survive without me. One of my fellow dotcomers, Anthony DiComo, will be pinch hitting in my absence. Hopefully the frozen tundra doesn’t serve as a shock to my system after getting accustomed to this lovely Florida weather. Back in a few…

~JB

Let the games begin

DSC02502.jpgSo the circus (pictured above) is in Dunedin this afternoon. Overall, I’ve got to say that the fans here at Dunedin Stadium went pretty easy on A-Rod. Then again, it was mostly Yankees fans in attendance for BP and they were showing the love. We’ll see if the elderly crowd here is a little less forgiving during his first trip to the plate.

There was one well-educated heckler who yelled out, “Where’s Yuri?” Well played, sir.

Some pregame housekeeping:

Today’s lineups:

New York at Toronto, 1:05 p.m. ET
at Dunedin Stadium

YANKEES
Brett Gardner, CF
Derek Jeter, SS
Robinson Cano, 2B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Nick Swisher, RF
Shelley Duncan, DH
Juan Miranda, 1B
Todd Linden, LF
Kevin Cash, C

PITCHING: RHP Brett Tomko

BLUE JAYS
Joe Inglett, 3B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Alex Rios, RF
Kevin Millar, 1B
Adam Lind, DH
Rod Barajas, C
Travis Snider, LF
Buck Coats, CF
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: LHP Brett Cecil

Players making the trip to Clearwater for tomorrow’s game against the Phillies include: Adam Loewen, Travis Snider, J.P. Arencibia, Michael Barrett, Brian Jeroloman, Jose Bautista, David Cooper, Scott Campbell, Joe Inglett, Marco Scutaro, among others. Pitching: Scott Richmond, Ken Takahashi.

Follow me on twitter for live updates throughout the game.

~JB

 

Moving Day Odds and Ends

Some items from the Mattick today:

–Vernon Wells spoke with us scribes and said he’s hoping to be back in a couple weeks. He doesn’t feel the injury is as bad as last year and feels that his experience a year ago can help him rebound quicker. He and Gaston make it sound like this hammy is always going to be a risk from now on.

–Mike Maroth threw off the mound in a bullpen session and felt good before and after. So that surgery he needs? A no go for now.

–Ryan talked with me today some about last season and how great it’s been to not have to worry about getting healthy right now. He called his performance at times last year “ugly” and said he was pretty much pitching without a slider all season long. Early reports from pitching coach Brad Arnsberg are that Bo’s slider is “tight”, his command is good and he’s stronger than he was last year. Great news for Toronto.

–Cito’s tentative lineup for Wednesday’s opener: Joe Inglett, 3B, Aaron Hill, 2B, Alex Rios, RF, Kevin Millar, 1B, Adam Lind, DH, Rod Barajas, C, Travis Snider, LF, Buck Coats, CF, John McDonald, SS. Pitching: Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero, B.J. Ryan, Brian Burres, Rick Bauer. … Coming for the Yankees: Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and [drumroll] Alex Rodriguez. On the mound for the Bombers: Brett Tomko, Kei Igawa and some other dudes.

–Cito said today that he plans on getting Adam Loewen plenty of playing time this spring: “I want him to play quite a bit. He’s a kid that looks good swinging. I spoke to him this year and told him that I was going to try to play him as much as i can. I’ve got him down mostly outfield. He needs some at-bats to get back to seeing the ball and swinging the bat.”

–Gaston doesn’t have a specific number of ABs in mind, but said Jose Bautista is very much in the plans this season. Said he wants to get him action in the outfield, at third and first base, as the DH and even at short. Gaston also doesn’t mind that Bautista is playing in the WBC with the D.R., even though he figured to get more ABs and innings with Wells out.

–Scott Richmond is skedded to start Thursday and Matt Clement on Friday. Brad Mills is slated to follow Clement, while Ken Takahashi is down to follow Richmond.

OPINION TIME: With the recent news about Wells, and after watching Rios man center field for two prolonged stretches last season, I’m thinking a change in the outfield alignment might be in order soon. If Wells’ injury is indeed going to be a constant risk, he might benefit from moving to left, or at least seeing more time as the DH. I absolutely loved Rios in center and Snider has been billed more as a right fielder than a left fielder. So, for the long run, would it not make sense to put Wells in left, Rios in center and Snider in right? The Jays have invested a lot of money in Wells and Rios and, along with Snider, these three outfielders are a major part of the organizations future. Just saying

~JB

Spring photos: Volume 4

With or without Vernon Wells, the show must go on. It’s moving day tomorrow for the Jays, who will pack up camp after their morning workout and move shop to Dunedin Stadium. As for today, I spent some time snapping some more photos. Enjoy.

                                                                                                                         ~JB

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Third baseman Scott Rolen during Monday’s workout

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Infielder Kevin Millar during Monday’s workout

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Catcher Rod Barajas during Monday’s workout

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Third baseman Scott Rolen moving to another practice field

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Ace Roy Halladay winding up during a live BP session

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Second baseman Aaron Hill during batting practice

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Center fielder Vernon Wells (10) talks with Aaron Hill during BP

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Ace Roy Halladay delivering a pitch during batting practice

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Third baseman Scott Rolen gloves a ground ball during fielding drills

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Third baseman Scott Rolen fielding a grounder

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Right-hander Jesse Litsch during his live batting practice session

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Catcher Michael Barrett during batting practice

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Catcher Michael Barrett talking with reporters by the batting cage

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Manager Cito Gaston behind the batting cage

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Shortstop Marco Scutaro during batting practice

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Outfielder Adam Lind during batting practice

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Outfielder Adam Lind during batting practice

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Third baseman Scott Rolen during batting practice

Wells out one month with hamstring strain

Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells is expected to be sidelined a month after straining his left hamstring on Monday at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. Wells was left Toronto’s complex to undergo an MRI exam to further evaluate the damage.

“Right now, preliminary, I’d say he’s going to miss four weeks,” Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said.

Wells had two stints on the disabled list last season, including one for the same hamstring last July. The 30-year-old center fielder finished the season batting .300 with 20 home runs and 78 RBIs, but he spent 52 games on the DL. He also fractured his left wrist in May of last season.

~JB

Morning notes

I upgraded my White Mocha from Starbucks to Venti size this morning to help rebound from what was a very entertaining evening out with some of the writers last night. Feeling tip top this a.m. and ready to get to work.

Walked into the work room this morning and was greeted with a nice little new “Spring Notes” handout courtesy of the PR staff — nice touch, guys. Besides noting that tomorrow’s workout doesn’t begin until noon, helping us scribes avoid the early-morning mistake we made yesterday, there are some other minor items of interest.

Among them, lefty prospect Brett Cecil is slated to start in Toronto’s first spring game against the Yankees on Wednesday. Ricky Romero, B.J. Ryan, Brian Burees and Rick Bauer are also skedded to appear. On Thursday in Clearwater, Scott Richmond will start against the Phightin’ Phils. Also penciled in: Ken Takahashi, Bryan Bullington, Luis Perez, Bill Murphy and Fabio Castro.

The Jays will also play 3 “B” games this spring, which will help get innings for the pile of pitchers in the running for a starting job. All 3 will be against the Phils, with games on March 2 at 10 a.m. and March 6 at 2 p.m. at the Philly’s park, and another on March 18 at 10 a.m. at the ol’ Mattick here.

Tomorrow is the Jays’ photo day as well. More later.

~JB

Overbay to miss some spring games

A hat tip to Jeff Blair of the Globe today for unearthing a newsy bit of information at the Mattick. Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay is expected to miss the first week of Grapefruit League games due to a pair of hernia surgeries he had over the winter.

Overbay has been in camp all week taking part in fielding drills and batting practice, so he’s not completely hindered here. Sounds like holding him out is more precautionary than anything, especially since Spring Training is longer than usual this year. Might as well be careful.

Anyways, that’s it for now. Later.

~JB

Decisions, decisions

Continued to break down the looming roster decisions with manager Cito Gaston today and he provided a little more insight into what he’s thinking at this point. Of course, with five weeks left, anything and everything is subject to change. That injury bug doesn’t care about the plans.

As for the bullpen, which I find a more interesting race this spring than the rotation, Gaston said that his four lefties — B.J. Ryan, Scott Downs, Brian Tallet and Jesse Carlson — are all considered “locks” at this point. He added that some pitchers will have to beat out Jeremy Accardo for a job, so he’s the front-runner among the righties. Everyone else? Time to show something.

Last week, GM J.P. Ricciardi said he could see a scenario in which Travis Snider started the season at Triple-A. Today, Cito said Snider would have to play “real bad” not to be on the Jays’ Opening Day roster. As for the bench, which probably won’t have room for all of Kevin Millar, Jose Bautista, John McDonald and Joe Inglett, Cito said he has a tough decision ahead.

Someone made a comment on one of my stories recently about the fact that I always say there are only two openings in the rotation, when it’s been reported elsewhere that there are three jobs up for grabs. My reason for continuing to say that there are only a pair of vacancies?

“I would think there’s two spots. That’s what I think. Two spots open. I think Purcey pitched well enough to be one of the three guys that we have right now — unless he absolutely pitches himself off the club.”

Thanks, Cito.

So that’s Doc Halladay, Jesse Litsch, Purcey, and a pair of front-runners in Casey Janssen and Scott Richmond. Behind them, Toronto will take a good, hard look at prospects Brett Cecil, Brad Mills and Ricky Romero. Other candidates include Matt Clement, Brian Burress, Ken Takahashi, Mike Maroth and … I think I got ‘em all.

One team insider told me the prospects might be ahead of Clement and the others on the depth chart at the moment. It’s also more likely that Janssen and Richmond make the club, barring injury or poor showings, and the Jays ease the youngsters into the rotation as the season moves along. Moving Janssen to the ‘pen during the year to clear a spot for another starter is also a possibility.

Got some stories to write. Later…

~JB

The early bird

Pulled into the Mattick this morning and as I was walking up to the entrance one of the security guard goes, “I don know why yer here so erly. Practice don start til noon er somethin this morn.”

What? Oh, right. First full-squad workout. Physicals. Meetings. Seems like something I should’ve remembered. Ah, well.

Watched “In Bruges” at home last night and loved the movie all over again. Definitely one of the underated films of the past year, and I’ll be pulling for it to win an Oscar for its screenplay (even though it doesn’t have a prayer of winning). Cooked up a HUGE batch of cajun chicken penne alfredo with broccoli and I have leftovers to last days. Faaantastic.

But, I’ll quit blogging about me. Scott Rolen should be here today, so we’ll all probably scrum him later to check in on how he’s doing, how his winter went and all the obligatory spring training content.

More later.

~JB

Spring photos: Volume 3

More photos from around camp today. Enjoy.
                                                          ~JB

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First baseman Lyle Overbay fielding a ground ball during practice

 

DSC02306.jpgBench coach Brian Butterfield hitting a grounder during fielding drills

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Infielder Kevin Millar during fielding drills

 
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Pitching prospect Ricky Romero prepares to throw during a bullpen session

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Second baseman Aaron Hill in the batting cage

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Infielder Joe Inglett prepares to swing during batting practice

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