February 2009

Wells likely out of Classic

Due to some paperwork issues, Vernon Wells probably won’t be suiting up for Team USA during the World Baseball Classic. Wells has been waiting two weeks for an update, but is starting to think it’s not going to happen.

“Right now, I’m under the impression that I’m not playing,” he said on Friday.

Wells said he exceeded the number of days allowed to be on the disabled list in the previous season for participating players. He noted that each player also requires insurance and there have been issues with that due to the size of his contract with Toronto.

~JB

Morning @ the Mattick: Report Day

Today position players are required to report, but that doesn’t really mean much for your Blue Jays. Most of the position players are already here and the one absentee — Scott Rolen — lives in Florida, sooo…consider him reported.

Looks like I’ve been in Florida too long already. When I strolled into Starbucks this morning, the girl behind the counter goes, “Hey, it’s Jordan like the river!” I guess her geography skills aren’t that great, though, because she spelled my name “Jordon” on the cup. Ah, well.

It’s a tad chilly here today, but my rule in Florida is to never complain about the weather down here, especially when most of you are reading from the frigid north. It’s about 55 and sunny, so it’s not really that bad. Some other media types have already been whining about having to wear their jackets.

The security guard at the entrance to the Mattick this morning was also complaining about the cold, but I said, “Comparatively, it’s really not that bad. It’s gorgeous out.” He said he used to live in New York, so he understood. After I told him how cold it was in Toronto, he blurted out, “Ugh! Fuhgeddaboutit!”

OK, time to work

~JB

Maroth update

Not really great news on Mike Maroth, but not necessarily bad news, either. Despite “something” showing up in the MRI exam, as GM J.P. Ricciardi worded so eloquently, the lefty has decided to try to pitch through the discomfort.

“There’s something in there,” Ricciardi said. “He might have some damage in there that requires surgery, but he thinks he can fight through it. That’s really his call.

The Jays signed Maroth to a Minor League deal over the winter with the hope that he could compete for a spot in the rotation, or at least add deptch behind the big league staff. Maroth is making his way back from left shoulder surgery as well.

That’s it for now. I’m all hopped up on Red Bull and hoping the clouds don’t start sending the rain. It’s a bit dreary here today weather wise. I’m planning on sitting down with Aaron Hill a tad later to talk about his comeback from that nasty concussion.

Stay tuned…

JOINING THE CLUB: We can all welcome the Globe’s Robby MacLeod to Twitter. You can find him on there at www.twitter.com/Sportshack. He’s still building his page, but he joined the new super cool trend this morning. As a reminder, I’m on there at /MLBastian.

NEW ARRIVAL: Jose Bautista showed up to camp today, leaving 3B Scott Rolen as the only no show so far. Rolen lives in Bradenton, so he’s probably using these last days to spend more time with the fam. Why commute before you’re required to? Manager Cito Gaston said he’s not worried about Rolen at all.

UPDATE: Looks like Maroth’s injury might be a bit more serious. One Jays insider described the situation as “bleak” and it’s believed that the injury is a torn meniscus in his left knee, which would require at least 4-6 weeks of recovery if he had surgery. Gaston stated the obvious, saying this puts Maroth way behind in the race for a rotation job. Maroth was a long shot to begin with. No one seems to know what caused the injury.

~JB

Spring photos: Volume 2

Some more pics from the Jays’ workout today.

                                                               ~JB

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Roy Halladay preparing a throw during a bullpen session

 
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Lyle Overbay getting ready to take some cuts in batting practice

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Adam Lind watching batting practice

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Manager Cito Gaston talks hitting with coach Gene Tenace

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Manager Cito Gaston takes in batting practice

 
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Adam Loewen watches batting practice

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Travis Snider steps out of the batting cage

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Infielder Joe Inglett prepares to field a grounder

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Second baseman Aaron Hill fielding a ground ball

 
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Shortstops Marco Scutaro (left) and John McDonald during fielding drills

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Pitching prospect Brett Cecil fires a pitch during a bullpen session

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Ace Roy Halladay throws while pitching coach Brad Arnsberg admires

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Left-hander David Purcey in his windup during a bullpen session

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Catcher Michael Barrett and Brett Cecil after their bullpen session

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Reliever Jesse Carlson throws during a bullpen session

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Casey Janssen throws during a bullpen session

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Jesse Litsch prepares to throw during a bullpen session

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Reliever Jason Frasor follows through on a pitch during a bullpen session

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Reliever Brandon League prepares a pitch during his bullpen session

Downs, Maroth visit the training room

Some injury news today from the Mattick. Scott Downs didn’t throw during the bullpen sessions today and it was revealed that he underwent a precautionary MRI exam on his left elbow. Mike Maroth is also scheduled to have one on his left knee.

GM J.P. Ricciardi said that Downs’ MRI came back clean, but he felt a “twinge” in his throwing arm. The lefty will take four or five days off, according to Ricciardi, but the injury isn’t considered serious.

As for Maroth, his left knee locked up on him and he’s being examined as well. I’ll keep you posted on that injury as we know more. We spoke with Lyle Overbay today — check bluejays.com later for more on that.

~JB

MLBastian now on Twitter

At the insistence of my older brother — always way ahead of me when it comes to technology and new super cool gadgetry — I have joined Twitter. More specifically, I have added Major League Bastian to the Twittersphere to provide you with another source for Jays bits.

You can find me there as, you guessed it, “MLBastian” and I’ll be posting quick updates as I deem necessary throughout the spring and the coming season. Shoot, if the Drunks are on Twitter, I guess I should join the club, too. Wouldn’t want the Pros falling behind the Joes, now would we? Zing!

Catch you all from the Mattick manana.

~JB

First Workout Photos

Here is a slew of photos that I took while checking out the Blue Jays’ first official workout for pitchers and catchers on Monday. I don’t have the photo gallery option I had with the previous blog format from past seasons, so I’ll just drop ‘em in the post here. Enjoy. ~JB

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Here’s manager Cito Gaston holding court with members of the Toronto media

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Scott Richmond and Jeremy Accardo during early-morning stretching

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Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg

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Vernon Wells, Alex Rios and Aaron Hill (From left) head in after BP

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Outfielder Adam Lind playing catch

 
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Shaun Marcum plays catch with a team trainer

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Matt Clement throws during a bullpen session

 
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Scott Richmond in his windup during a bullpen session

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Jeremy Accardo throws a pitch during a bullpen session

 
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Ace Roy Halladay throwing during a bullpen session

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GM J.P. Ricciardi watching pitchers with manager Cito Gaston

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Closer B.J. Ryan prepares a throw during a bullpen session

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Brian Tallet winds up during a bullpen session

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GM J.P. Ricciardi and hitting coach Gene Tenace watch the pitchers

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Japan’s Ken Takahashi holds court with the Japanese press

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Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg talking shop with pitcher Matt Clement

Where is everyone?

Funny, there’s only two beat reporters here at the Mattick today. Apparently, there’s something going on over at Legends Field in Tampa. I wonder what that could be? Something about some dude named Rodriguez?

I wouldn’t know. I cover the Blue Jays.

Slow day here at camp, though Marco Scutaro arrived, leaving only Jose Bautista, Scott Rolen and Lyle Overbay as the absent position players from the big league team. Kevin Millar arrived yesterday and we chatted with him today. Check bluejays.com a bit later for a story on that.

I’ll also be posting some photos a bit later from Day 1 at camp yesterday. I was having some computer issues and wasn’t able to post them until now. Also just sat down with Cito, and discussed a few things with him.

When asked if Bautista and Millar could both make the roster, Gaston said that’s a possibility, adding that it depends on how many pitchers the team decides to head north with. He said the Jays might consider going with one less pitcher at the very beginning of the season.

Adam Lind made fun of my graying hair today, and told me I was getting old. Nice, since he and I are pretty much the same age. I asked him if I should dye my hair Dennis the Menace yellow like he’s got going on right now. Not really in a position to make fun of someone’s hair, Lindy.

And Travis Snider told me I was a crazy person for running two marathons over the winter. “I don’t think I ran 26 miles all offseason,” he said. Maybe not, but Snider has shown up to camp a bit trimmer and looking like he’s in great shape. He said he’s dropped about 8-10 pounds.

More later.

In my CD player: Pearl Jam — Vitalogy, because this is my favorite rock album of all-time. Now, don’t mistake me here. I won’t claim this to be the best rock album of all-time — just MY personal fave. Vitalogy was my first rock casette tape when I was a kid and it was what launched my love for rock, especially ’90s grunge. This album never gets old.

Flight of the Conchords: Watched it last night and enjoyed it thoroughly. Season 2 has been up and down so far, but the fifth episode was one of the better ones of this season.

Last night: Went out and completely embarrassed myself in a round of billiards with the Star’s Rich Griffin. We were playing best of five, and I looked good from the get go. Down to one ball plus the eight in Game 1, and Griff had five left on the table. He went on a run and I never took another shot. Game 2, I was down to the eight ball and Griff had four on the table still. Another run, another loss. From there, my confidence went through the floor and Griff destroyed me. Terrible. Just terrible.

~JB

9 a.m. in the Classroom room

That’s from one of the schedule sheets hanging inside the entrance to the Jays’ clubhouse here. The pitchers all have a meeting at 9 a.m. this morning and they need to report to the “Classroom room.”

A couple sheets over was the schedule for today’s first official workout, and plenty of pitchers were heading over to check out what stations they needed to go to first and which groups they’ve been place in. There are four groups for bullpen sessions, and some of the names are in bold and some aren’t, leading to some confusion.

“Those are the guys who already made the team,” quipped T.J. Beam.

Dirk Hayhurst — who enjoys chatting with us scribes and is a soon-to-be published writer himself — walked over and tossed in a self-deprecating jab: “Am I even on the list? Or did I get cut already?” This from the guy who was released last week and then subsquently re-signed.

Some new position player arrivals today include Alex Rios (sans mohawk), Vernon Wells and Mighty Joe Inglett. We chatted with John McDonald and Rios a bit about life as new fathers, and neither got much sleep over the offseason. Rios, whose daughter is seven months old, was asked if he mastered the art of diaper changing.

“No,” he said with a laugh. “I actually haven’t changed one yet.”

Rios also said he didn’t do much over the winter, even skipping out on Vernon Wells’ birthday party. Wells, sitting a few lockers over, chuckled when Rios brought that up. I suggested that the party should’ve been held in Puerto Rico. “I know!” Rios agreed.

After the meeting, pitchers and catchers will begin their workout today with good old-fashioned stretching on the team’s “agility field,” which is just a plot of grass between two practice diamonds with a grid of lines painted on it. Two years ago, it was just a field. Now, it’s got a super cool name!

Starbucks: Located and enjoyed. Grande White Mocha, because they don’t carry Irish Cream anymore. A Grande Irish Cream Mocha is my drink of choice at any other coffee joint.

In my CD player: The Killers — Hot Fuss, because as much as I love this Vegas band, that first album is still their best.

Last night: Watched a three-hour Baseball Tonight special, which they said at the start was aimed at previewing all 30 teams. Funny, I don’t recall them bringing up the Jays.

Tonight: Trying to find the Flight of the Conchords episode from last night somewhere online. No HBO at the ol’ condo. Not cool, especially when the Wife calls laughing to see if I watched the show. No, I did not. Thanks for asking.

~JB

Clement holds court

Matt Clement joined us in the media workroom a little while ago and chatted with us scribes for a solid 20 minutes. With today being physicals day, and Clement still making his way back from a major shoulder operation, the first question was made somewhat in jest.

“You pass your physical?” asked one reporter.

“I did good,” said a smiling Clement.

Clement didn’t go into detail on what the doctor said, but did say he thought the doc was surprised that the pitcher’s shoulder was in as good of shape as it is. Clement said he doesn’t feel like he has any limitations right now and he’s looking forward to taking advantage of this competition for rotation jobs.

“I think I’m in a good situation,” Clement said.

Clement is also looking forward to working with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg again. The pair worked together during spring 2002 until Clement was traded by the Marlins to the Cubs. Clement said in that brief period, Arnsberg helped get him in line mechanically, and he thinks that’s a main reason he had such success that year (career highs in innings and strikeouts).

Clement said he threw six times off a mound before coming to camp and he’s starting working breaking balls into the mix. From talking to him, Clement sounds confident that he’s going to have a good spring. Of course, doesn’t every player seem that way when camp opens? If Clement is near his former form, though, the Jays might have a solid option there.

He might want to consider regrowing his well-known goatee. Clement showed up to the Mattick clean shaven and said people were having a tough time recognizing him.

~JB

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