March 2009

A-Who?

So, Alex Rodriguez went under the knife today out in Colorado and he’s expected to be sidelined for between six to nine weeks. He’s going to be out in the land of the Rockies for a couple weeks, and apparently he’ll be riding a stationary bike later today.

The bottom line — and the reason I’m writing about this — is A-Rod ain’t here today. So it’s a little quieter at Boss Field now that the circus has left town. A-Rod is projected to be back in the Yanks’ lineup around mid May, but funny story, the Jays don’t play the Yanks at all until…the middle of May!

Can’t buy a break, huh. For what it’s worth, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston doesn’t think the Bombers have too much to worry about.

“Pitching wins games,” Gaston said. “Of course, they’re going to miss him. How can you not miss him? But I think they’ve still got enough offense to certainly get by until he gets back, if they pitch well. They certainly have some pitchers who are capable of pitching well.”

They sure do, including one who pitched for the Jays last year and won 18 games. Speaking of A.J. Burnett, had a nice chat with him this morning and will be writing something up a bit later. He’s still been hanging out with a few of the Jays’ players this spring and credits his time in Toronto for being ready to take on the New York spotlight.

Don’t forget, you can follow my in-game updates at www.twitter.com/mlbastian

Today’s lineup:

BLUE JAYS
Russ Adams, LF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Jason Lane, CF
Travis Snider, RF
Scott Campbell, 3B
Raul Chavez, C
John McDonald, SS

Brad Mills, P
Casey Janssen, P

YANKEES
Brett Gardner, CF
Melky Cabrera, LF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Jorge Posada, DH
Nick Swisher, RF
Jose Molina, C
Angel Berroa, 2B
Justin Leone, 3B
Ramiro Pena, SS

Andy Pettitte, P

~JB

Jays @ Reds pregame

Blasted Nine Inch Nails’ “With Teeth” through the Jeep on the hour-or-so drive here to sunny Sarasota this morning. Nothing like coffee and Reznor to wake you up. Entering Ed Smith Stadium, the security guard kept calling me “Bubba” while checking my bag. Cracked me up.

Just got back to the pressbox a little while ago after our daily pregame chat with Cito. Not a whole heckuva lot going on today, but Gaston did say that Vernon Wells — out since Feb. 23 with a left hamstring strain — will probably begin playing in games in another 10 days or so.

Wells took part in some running drills prior to Toronto’s game against the Reds last night in Dunedin and reported no soreness. Cito also said today that Jason “King of Spring” Lane could head north with the club if Wells isn’t ready by Opening Day. That’s been the assumption anyway with how Lane has been hitting of late, and since Cito has been running him out to center regularly.

Hey, and remember that A.J. Burnett fellow? The guy that opted out of his contract with Toronto and signed a five-year deal with the New York Yankees? Ringing any bells? Yeah, well, turns out he’s scheduled to start against the Blue Jays tomorrow in Tampa. Should be fun.

“It’ll be nice to see him,” Gaston said. “I certainly got along with A.J. really well and I appreciate the way he performed last year for this club after I came here. You know what? He’s a good guy for me and I wish him all the best. But, when we play him, I hope we beat him.”

UPDATE: Funny story. We were misinformed about Burnett’s start. He’s going today for the Yankees — NOT tomorrow. Soooo, there goes that. Andy Pettitte is starting tomorrow against the Jays.

Don’t forget, you can follow my in-game updates at www.twitter.com/mlbastian

Today’s lineup:

BLUE JAYS
Joe Inglett, 2B
Buck Coats, CF
Adam Lind, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Scott Rolen, 3B
Travis Snider, RF
Michael Barrett, C
J.P. Arencibia, DH
John McDonald, SS

David Purcey, P
Brett Cecil, P

REDS
Jacque Jones, LF
Alex Gonzalez, DH
Chris Dickerson, CF
Brandon Phillips, 2B
Jonny Gomes, 1B
Laynce Nix, RF
Jeff Keppinger, 3B
Humberto Cota, C
Paul Janish, SS

Micah Owings, P

~JB

Reds @ Jays pregame

Chatted some with Roy Halladay today about his decision not to take part in the World Baseball Classic, even though Team USA tried to bring him on board. Halladay has been camped at his locker, watching the tourney’s early games and he said he’s definitely a fan of the event.

As far as taking part in it, well, that’s a different story. Given the timing, Halladay prefers to stick with the Jays. His spring schedule usually calls for him to gradually add in his various pitches at different points throughout the month, and pitching in the WBC would mean he’d have to use all his pitches earlier than usual.

That, in short, is Doc’s main reason for staying in camp. Asked if he would consider taking part if the Classic was held at a different point in the year, Halladay said he just wasn’t sure. As a pitcher, it’s tough no matter when it’d be held. At this time in spring, he hasn’t worked on all his pitches. During or after the season, and you risk injury due to being overworked.

Team Canada can count its blessings, though. Doc probably would’ve been on the mound today at Rogers Centre if he was suiting up for Team America.

Pregame items: Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said havign catcher Rod Barajas playing for Mexico in the WBC is actually good for the club. It’s helped Gaston find more playing time for the catchers who are vying for the backup job. … Reid Santos, Fabio Castro, David Cooper, Brandon Fahey, Wayne Lydon and Kyle Phillips have all been returned to Minor League camp. The Jays now have 60 players in camp, 36 on their 40-man roster. … Making the trip to Sarasota tomorrow: J.P. Arencibia, Michael Barrett, Joe Inglett, Lyle Overbay, Scott Rolen, John McDonald, Adam Lind, Travis Snider and Adam Loewen, among others. Brett Cecil and David Purcey will pitch. … On Monday, Brad Mills and Casey Janssen will pitch.

Today’s lineup:

REDS
Norris Hooper, CF
Jeff Keppinger, SS
Jay Bruce, RF
Brandon Phillips, 2B
Lance Nix, LF
Todd Frazier, 3B
Daryle Ward, 1B
Alex Gonzalez, SS
Ryan Hanigan, C

Homer Bailey, P

BLUE JAYS
Joe Inglett, SS
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, DH
Kevin Millar, 1B
Jason Lane, CF
Scott Rolen, 3B
Travis Snider, RF
Curtis Thigpen, C
Russ Adams, LF

Jesse Litsch, P
Ricky Romero, P
Matt Bush, P

~JB

Nightcap vs. Phillies pregame

Back in the pressbox after what seemed like forever off. When you’re in Florida flying solo, days off don’t do you much good, especially when you’re not really a beach person. Spent some time reading, watching Flight of the Conchords and picking up the running again.

But, I’m glad to be back at work. The Jays host the Phightins tonight here at Dunedin Stadium, which is hardly known for its quality light towers. Got here early and had a nice chat with John McDonald, who isn’t taking the field worrying about if he has a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Sounds like Johnny Mac doesn’t have much to worry about anyway. Both manager Cito Gaston and general manager J.P. Ricciardi said he has a spot on the team as things stack up right now. Said Cito: “We’d be breaking camp with one shortstop, so I’d almost think he’s on the team.”

Jays had a “B” game this afternoon against the Phils as well, over at Bright House Field. Scott Rolen homered twice, Kevin Millar once, and B.J. Ryan made his first appearance since opting out of the World Baseball Classic. Ryan’s line: 1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 K.

Ryan said he’s currently working on shortening up his stride, one issue he’s had this spring. Earlier this spring, he said he felt he was holding back due to the surgery he had on his elbow. Ryan said he isn’t holding anything back this spring, and his health is fine. It’s still just mechanical problems that need sorting out.

Doc Halladay on the hill tonight against Philadelphia.

Today’s lineup:

PHILLIES
Eric Bruntlett, SS
Marcus Giles, 3B
Raul Ibanez, LF
Greg Dobbs, 1B
John Mayberry Jr., CF
Geoff Jenkins, RF
Mike Carvenak, DH
Pablo Ozuna, 2B
Ronny Paulino, C

Chan Ho Park, P

BLUE JAYS
Joe Inglett, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Jason Lane, CF
Brad Emaus, 3B
Travis Snider, RF
Michael Barrett, C
John McDonald, SS

Roy Halladay, P

~JB

Team America World Police

Pulled into the media lot this morning and was blocked off by Team USA’s bus, which was surrounded by quite the police motorcade. There were probably a half-dozen police motorcycles and a handful of cop cars as well.

Joking around, I asked the security guard, “What, is Obama here today?”

With no apparent sense of humor, he looked at me blankly and replied, “No. Team USA is here.” Geez, lighten up, man. I didn’t REALLY think Obama was going to be at Dunedin Stadium today. He’d be in Tuscon with the White Sox anyway.

Some pregame bits: So, I guess manager Cito Gaston misspoke yesterday when he said Lyle Overbay was going to be in the starting lineup today. This morning, he said he meant to say Friday night. So no Lyle today. I know you all were on the edge of your seat. … Casey Janssen is set to make his spring debut today. Cito says he’ll only throw an inning. … Someone reported somewhere that Cito said Inglett would be the starting CF on Opening Day if Vernon is out. Not true. What Cito actually said was that Inglett is the No. 1 choice behind Wells and Alex Rios. In all likelihood, Rios is in CF on Opening Day. … Word is that Wells has been held back another week in terms of when he can resume running drills. His status for Opening Day is unclear. I say he could open as the DH. He could just as easily open on the DL. … Off-day on Thursday. On Friday, the Jays have another B game. In the A game, Roy Halladay is skedded to pitch 3 innings. Also scheduled to appear in that game against the Phils, Brandon League, Brian Tallet, Jason Frasor, Jesse Carlson and Shawn Camp. … Cito often mentions today’s starter, Brad Mills, first when asked about what young pitchers have impressed him this spring. Gaston said he’s been not only impressed with the  lefty’s stuff, but also with his makeup. That will certainly be put to the test here against the US lineup.

Don’t forget, you can follow my in-game updates at www.twitter.com/mlbastian.

Today’s lineup:

TEAM AMERICA
Shane Victorino, RF
Jimmy Rollins, SS
Chipper Jones, 3B
David Wright, DH
Adam Dunn, 1B
Ryan Braun, LF
Mark DeRosa, 2B
Chris Iannetta, C
Curtis Granderson, CF

Ted Lilly, P

BLUE JAYS
Joe Inglett, LF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, DH
Kevin Millar, 1B
Jason Lane, CF
Scott Rolen, 3B
Travis Snider, RF
Raul Chavez, C
John McDonald, SS

Brad Mills, P
Matt Clement, P
Casey Janssen, P

~JB

Happy Canada Day!

Team Canuck is in Dunedin for a friendly against your Toronto Blue Jays, but word is we’re still going to sing my anthem today. There were some players wondering if only O Canada was going to be played today.

“Only one anthem?” asked catcher Michael Barrett.

I suggested he take the field pregame and belt it out in French. He laughed and then replied, “I can. Maybe the last game of the spring, if I make the team. I’ll have to sing fast so no one notices if my pronunciation is off.”

Some pregame items: Blue Jays skip Cito Gaston said Lyle Overbay will make his spring debut tomorrow at first base. … Casey Janssen is down to pitch 1-2 innings tomorrow, his first game action of the spring. … Vernon Wells is taking plenty of BP, but doesn’t know when he’s scheduled to begin testing his sore left hammy out with some running drills. … Cito said Ricky Romero (six walks among 10 batters faced yesterday) was using a slide step way too much yesterday, even when runners weren’t on base. Said the young lefty was working way too fast and it hurt his delivery.

Had a funny chat with Jays broadcaster Jamie Campbell today. CP’s Shi Davidi and I were suggesting that he work some Anchorman references into his broadcasts this year and he brought up a funny call he reportedly once made. JC said he read online that he once said “Let’s all admire Vernon’s ding dong” after a Wells home run. “I used the phrase ‘ding dong’ once in my career, and it wasn’t after a Wells’ homer. But people think I said that. It’s even on Wikipedia!” So, apparently, it wasn’t Wells’ ding dong that Campbell was admiring. Case closed.

Today’s lineup:

TEAM CANADA
Chris Barnwell, SS
Russell Martin, C
Joey Votto, LF
Justin Morneau, 1B
Jason Bay, CF
Mark Teahan, 3B
Matt Stairs, RF
Corey Koskie, DH
Pete Orr, 2B

Scott Richmond, P

BLUE JAYS
Joe Inglett, LF
Russ Adams, 2B
Scott Campbell, 3B
Jason Lane, CF
Michael Barrett, C
Randy Ruiz, 1B
Adam Loewen, RF
Buck Coats, DH
John McDonald, SS

Mike Maroth, P

~JB

Pregame Items

Internet is going wonky on us here, so I’m going to be brief while I have a connection here. Just a few bits from today’s pregame. Obviously, the biggest news of the day is that B.J. Ryan has decided to skip the World Baseball Classic.

Ryan is saying that he’s out of whack mechanically and he wants to stay in camp with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg and crew to sort through the issues. He doesn’t want to be working on his delivery while pitching for his country.

Everyone is saying this is entirely Ryan’s call, but it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if the Jays leaned on him a bit to get him to stick around with the team. For what it’s worth, though, no one is saying that’s the case.

The Jays had a “B” game today at noon and David Purcey logged two innings for the Jays. He allowed one hit, gave up two runs (one earned), and finished with four strikeouts and two walks. Purcey is in line to be the No. 3 starter.

Mike Maroth — still fighting that left knee injury — is on deck to start for the Jays tomorrow against Team Canada. For a nice little twist, Scott Richmond is down to start for Canada against the Jays.

Today’s Blue Jays lineup:

Joe Inglett, RF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, LF
Kevin Millar, 1B
Jason Lane, CF
Brad Emaus, 3B
Brian Dopriak, DH
John McDonald, SS
Raul Chavez, C

Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil are down to pitch three innings each

POSTGAME UPDATE: Tough outing for Mr. Romero today. Six walks to the 10 batters he faced and he only lasted 1 1/3 innings. He didn’t give up a hit, but he wasn’t coming close to the strike zone either. Overall, Romero threw 56 pitches and just 27 for strikes. … Cecil came in for Romero with one out in the second and looked sharp, with his typically strong slider. He turned in 2 2/3 innings, allowing no runs with three strikeouts, one walk and one hit. … Ryan Howard CRUSHED a pitch from Jeremy Accardo to DEEP center field. I emphasize these words because the ball bounced off the light tower in straightaway center. Just absolutely killed. … Accardo was roughed up in his second inning of work. Overall, he allowed seven runs on seven hits in two innings. Ugly. … Jays lost the “B” game, 2-1. … Some “B” game lines for you: Jason Frasor, 1 IP, BB; Brian Tallet, 1 IP, 1 H, 3 K; Brandon League, 1 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 WP, 2 K. … I hate to rag on Russ Adams, because he’s one of the good guys in the organization. But that unearned run Purcey allowed today? Came from a tailormade double play grounder that Adams apparently botched with a throwing error (info courtesy of Mike Wilner, who made the trek to watch the game). … Lind, Millar and Emaus all homered today. Lind’s was a crush job to right-center. … That’s it for me today. Remember, you can follow live in-game updates from me all spring on twitter. Find me under @MLBastian.

~JB

Ryan pulls out of Classic

Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan has pulled himself out of the World Baseball Classic due to concerns about the current state of his mechanics. Ryan labored through his first two spring outings for Toronto and has decided that remaining in camp with his own club was the best way to sort through the issues.

Ryan was scheduled to pitch for the United States in an exhibition against the Blue Jays on Wednesday at Dunedin Stadium, but the left-hander will be replaced on Team USA’s roster. Ryan, who chose not to take part in the Classic in 2006 after just signing a long-term contract with Toronto, was looking forward to participating in the unique event this year.

“This was an especially tough decision because of the honor of playing for my country,” Ryan said in a statement released by Team USA. “But I feel it is the best interest of Team USA and the Toronto Blue Jays organization to not participate. I do not see it as being fair to my USA teammates, my Blue Jay teammates or myself to try to compete when my mechanics and delivery are not where they need to be in order to perform at the highest level.”

In his first two Grapefruit League appearances, Ryan allowed four runs on four hits with three walks and no strikeouts over one inning.

~JB

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