Game 28: Cleveland at Toronto pregame
Glancing at the American League’s offensive charts, it’s not hard to find the Blue Jays — they’re right there near the top in most team categories. There is one area where Toronto is lacking, though. No big surprise: Jays rank 12th in the league in stolen bases.
Through 27 games, the Birds nabbed 12 bags and were only caught once. A great success rate, but not a whole heckuva lot of tries. Only Oakland and Kansas City — with 11 each — had fewer in the league. Toronto’s leader? Vernon Wells with three.
So what gives?
“I might have to ask you how many they stole this time last year,” said Jays manager Cito Gaston, when asked about the low robbery rate. “I think you better check that one. They might not have that many last year — I don’t know.”
Actually, turns out that the Go Go Jays had 22 (10 CS) through 27 games last season under former manager John Gibbons. Alex Rios, who ended with 32 swipes in ’08, led the way with six and was followed by Marco Scutaro (three), John McDonald (two), Aaron Hill (two), Joe Inglett (two), David Eckstein (two), Gregg Zaun (two!), Scott Rolen (one), Buck Coats (remember him? one) and Wells (one).
One Jays scribe asked if the low stolen bases total so far this season could be a result of the strong offense. Why take risks when the group is hitting so well and producing so many runs?
“It’s not about that. It’s about opportunities and chances that you take,” Gaston replied. “Sometimes, we run according to who’s on that mound — how fast they’re unloading. You see us try to steal third sometimes, because some guys get where they get a little lackadaisical paying attention to guys on second.”
Despite the early numbers, Gaston said he is definitely a fan of stealing bases,
“Absolutely,” he said. “The running game creates a lot of trouble for people. If you can run, you can cause a lot of problems. Instead of hitting doubles, you can run into a double or run into a triple. If you have speed, it’s great.”
UPDATES: LHP Ricky Romero (strained right oblique) postponed his schedule bullpen session until Tuesday. The change came because Romero has been pushed back to pitch one day after RHP Casey Janssen (right shoulder). Janssen’s next start for Class A Dunedin is slated for Wednesday and Romero’s first rehab start for Dunedin will be Thursday. … RHP Jesse Litsch (right elbow tightness) is on a tad slower schedule than Romero/Janssen, who could be back after two-three more Minors starts, but is only about a week behind, according to GM J.P. Ricciardi. Litsch is on a throwing program in Florida, but there is no target date for his first rehab start yet. … LHP B.J. Ryan (left trapezius tightness) threw in the bullpen on Monday and will head to Florida to begin a rehab stint with Class A Dunedin on Wednesday. There is no timetable for Ryan’s return, but the plan is for him to progress up the Minor League system. … RHP Shaun Marcum (Tommy John on right elbow at end of last season) has been throwing in bullpen sessions and Ricciardi said the pitcher “might” be able to begin pitching in Minor League games some time in June. He is WAY ahead of schedule. … RHP Dustin McGowan (right shoulder) is currently playing catch, but it’s still unlikely he is back this season.
GOING TO CALI: I will not be covering Tuesday’s game, missing out on the big league debut for Jays lefty Brett Cecil. I’ll be traveling to the West Coast for Toronto’s two-game set with the Angels. So the blog will be dormant until Wednesday. I won’t be making the trek to Oakland. Instead, will be spending a couple extra days in Anaheim to visit some family.
1. Grady Sizemore, CF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera, 2B
3. Victor Martinez, C
4. Shin-Soo Choo, RF
5. Mark DeRosa, 3B
6. Jhonny Peralta, SS
7. Ryan Garko, 1B
8. Matt LaPorta, LF
9. Ben Francisco, DH
Starter: RHP Fausto Carmona (1-3)
1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Alex Rios, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Adam Lind, LF
6. Scott Rolen, 3B
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. Rod Barajas, C
9. Travis Snider, DH
Starter: LHP Brian Tallet (1-1)