You could hear him coming from inside the media work room. His laugh booming from the hallway as he made his way to the door.
And as Blue Jays president and CEO Paul Beeston burst through the door to head out to the ballfields, there in his lips, protruding from his wide grin, was his signature stogie.
Some things never change.
The Blue Jays brass arrived today. Beeston, general manager Alex Anthopoulos, assistant GM Tony Lacava and director of Minor League operations Charlie Wilson were all on hand to watch some players run through the day’s unofficial workout.
As Beeston watched from behind the bullpen, smoke puffed from his cigar and disappeared into the air above, while he chatted and laughed through his brief visit to camp.
One new Blue Jay sighting was speedy outfielder Joey Gathright, who is in camp on a Minor League contract with a shot at a spot on the Opening Day roster. Anthopoulos said one advantage Gathright has is the type of speed that the rest of the 40-man roster lacks.
Anthopoulos spoke at length about his desire to make speed and defense staples of the Blue Jays’ identity and culture going forward. Now, this does not mean the big league club is going to start running wild in 2010. Starting in the Minors, though, Anthopoulos wants to improve the organization’s emphasis on speed and he’s hired a roving baserunning coach in Rich Miller.
It will take time to see the results in the Majors, but a lot of things the Jays are working on will require time and patience. That’s expected under the circumstances. Utilizing speed is only a good option is you have the right personnel in place. Obviously, Anthopoulos did not inherit a team of burners when he took over as the GM.
THE BROTHERS MOLINA: The Blue Jays signed veteran catcher Jose Molina to a one-year, non-guaranteed contract on Friday. You’ll remember his brother Bengie as the Jays catcher a few years back. Jose’s deal only guarantees him $400,000. He’ll earn another $400,000 if he makes the Opening Day roster. The contract also includes a club option for 2011 worth $1.2 million. Molina will complete with Raul Chavez for the backup role behind John Buck.
This move is about depth and it’s about adding another veteran catcher to help groom the pack of young pitchers and young catchers in camp. One thing Buck, Molina and Chavez all have in common is a reputation of being a good game-callers and mentors for young arms. In the short-term, that’s a good thing to have in place to help this young staff’s development.
MCGOWAN WATCH: Dustin McGowan is scheduled to throw his sixth bullpen session on Saturday. So far, all reports are that McGowan looks and feels great. So much so that the medical staff is trying not to get too excited. Doing that is asking for trouble. So, stay tuned. If McGowan can indeed be a realistic rotation candidate, that would be an interesting development this spring. Obviously, it’s still a long way before Opening Day.