Game 44: Toronto at Boston pregame

Blue Jays ace Roy Halladay walked by me today in the clubhouse and as he headed into the training room, I jokingly asked, “Hey, Roy, how’s your swing coming?”

He smiled and replied: “I’m not even working on it.”

What? This from the all-time franchise leader in hits by a pitcher? OK, so he’s tied for first in the club record books with only three hits. He also is tied for first all-time among Jays pitchers in RBIs, or, I guess that’d be RBI, since he only has one. Overall? Doc has hit .081 (3-for-37) with two runs (!) and 16 strikeouts.

Why do I bring this up? Because Halladay will be putting on a helmet and stepping into the batter’s box tomorrow night, when the Jays open a three-game Interleague series with the Braves in Atlanta. It’s that time of year for awkward swings from men who should just not be standing at the plate.

Also due to pitch for the Jays in the series are Scott Richmond and Brian Tallet.

When was the last time Richmond had an at-bat?

“Oh, man. I don’t know. It’s been over 10 years,” Richmond said. “I hit some yesterday out on the field — did some slashing and some bunting. Hit one off the top of the wall actually — good for my confidence.”

Does Tallet remember the last time he hit in a game?

“Yeah. Pittsburgh — 2003,” he said, rolling his eyes.

Tallet went 0-for-2.

“I was praying those would be the last two I ever had,” he said. “Oh, well.”

Overall, Blue Jays pitchers have hit .100 (24-for-240) with one homer and five RBIs over the years. The lone blast came off the bat of Mark Hendrickson on June 21, 2003 in Montreal.

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston has stressed approach and aggresiveness for his hitters. How about for the pitchers?

“Don’t get hurt,” Gaston said with a laugh.

Count Gaston among those who don’t like having American League pitchers hit in Interleague Play, too.

“I know Interleague is great — all that stuff is good,” he said. “But, it’s certainly a disadvantage to American League teams. I don’t care what they say, it’s a disadvantage. Doc can take a swing and you could lose him for I don’t know how long. Or, up there bunting, they don’t bunt. They could get hit on their fingers with a pitch. They don’t run bases. It’s just altogether not good for American League teams.”

That being the case, would Gaston tell his pitchers to just go stand up at the plate and stare at three strikes?

“We did that in Spring Training. Just don’t swing the bat. Just let it go by,” Gaston said.

Will he instruct the pitchers to do that in the regular season, though?

“We might. What’s  the chances of them hitting it anyway? Slim, right?”

Ummm, yeah. Last year, Jays hurlers went 0-for-16 at the plate. Four other AL clubs had no hits from their moundsmen.

Gaston said the pitchers could bunt in certain situations, but it won’t be a requirement.

“I’ll tell them to be careful. If they want to take three, take three and sit down.”

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (27-16)

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Alex Rios, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Adam Lind, DH
6. Scott Rolen, 3B
7. Kevin Millar, 1B
8. Rod Barajas, C
9. Jose Bautista, LF

Starter: RHP Bobby Ray (1-1)

RedSox.gifBOSTON RED SOX (24-16)

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
3. David Ortiz, DH
4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B
5. Jason Bay, LF
6. J.D. Drew, RF
7. Mike Lowell, 3B
8. Jason Varitek, C
9. Julio Lugo, SS

Starter: LHP Jon Lester (2-4)

~JB

4 Comments

When there is inter-league play – I’m not so sure I like the idea of the AL pitchers having to hit.

Julia
http://werbiefitz.mlblogs.com/

Cito’s concerns are legitimate in terms of NL teams having an advantage at home in interleague play and of AL teams putting their pitchers at risk. That said, pitchers are still baseball players, which means they grew up swinging a bat. It’s not like we’re sticking someone at the bat who’s never held a bat. The basic mechanics of hitting and running the bases for pitchers like any ball players have got to be like riding a bike – you never forget them. Now are they going to hit or run well? No, they’re too rusty. But they ought to be able to go up there and be able to not hurt themselves – especially on a bunt. And if they do hurt themselves, maybe it’s a conditioning/training problem. Seems to me base-running drills would be good physical training worth doing regularly. And if you’ve got interleague play coming up, the pitchers ought to take batting practice for a few weeks before so they get back into the swing so to speak and their muscles are used to the movements again. To me what’s risky isn’t so much putting Roy Halladay at the play as it is sending up there without any practice – which from is comment, sounds like what he and the Jays are doing. Hope that’s not really the case.

Cito’s concerns are legitimate in terms of NL teams having an advantage at home in interleague play and of AL teams putting their pitchers at risk. That said, pitchers are still baseball players, which means they grew up swinging a bat. It’s not like we’re sticking someone at the bat who’s never held a bat. The basic mechanics of hitting and running the bases for pitchers like any ball players have got to be like riding a bike – you never forget them. Now are they going to hit or run well? No, they’re too rusty. But they ought to be able to go up there and be able to not hurt themselves – especially on a bunt. And if they do hurt themselves, maybe it’s a conditioning/training problem. Seems to me base-running drills would be good physical training worth doing regularly. And if you’ve got interleague play coming up, the pitchers ought to take batting practice for a few weeks before so they get back into the swing so to speak and their muscles are used to the movements again. To me what’s risky isn’t so much putting Roy Halladay at the play as it is sending up there without any practice – which from is comment, sounds like what he and the Jays are doing. Hope that’s not really the case.

I thought Cito didn’t like pitchers. Shouldn’t they just go hack away? :D

I jest. I agree with Jabalong. Interleague play isn’t something that’s a sudden surprise. Who’s fault is it if pitchers aren’t prepared for it? If AL pitchers are in such danger of injury, then maybe it’s time to ditch the DH and have them stay in shape for hitting.

I also dislike the idea that any pitcher is a write-off in terms of hitting. Look at what the Rays’ Andy Sonnanstine did last weekend after that lineup card mishap.

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