Races: bullpen and otherwise
Lots of live batting practice again at Blue Jays’ camp today. One pitcher to take the mound was right-hander Jason Frasor, who promptly did a number on the bat of young slugger Travis Snider.
Frasor broke Snider’s bat at the handle, but the strip of lumber remained together. Snider looked the ruined stick, shrugged and stepped back into the batter’s box. It wasn’t about to stop him from trying to belt a mammoth home run with a broken bat.
Or, not. He just wanted to stay in there to track pitches.
After coming out of the batting cage, Snider laughed when someone mentioned the broken bat.
“Hey, at this point, just making contact is a good thing, right?” he replied.
Shoot. The way Frasor pitched last year, and how he’s looked this spring, with the help of that changeup-splitter hybrid he discovered last year, making contact against the righty is definitely a good start. Frasor is now starting to really hone is location with that new pitch.
“He’s really starting to command it,” pitching coach Bruce Walton said. “Hitters are going to have to start swinging at it, because it’s going to be a strike.”
After the day’s workout, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston noted that Frasor, lefty Scott Downs and newly-signed Kevin Gregg are the only relievers who are assured jobs in the Opening Day bullpen. “The rest of it’s open,” said Gaston.
That has pretty much been the assumption to this point, but Gaston made it official. Gaston likes Josh Roenicke, Shawn Camp and Jesse Carlson, but said they need to earn their way onto the roster just like everybody else.
While discussing the bullpen, Gaston also noted that Carlson was pitching through an injury last season. The manager said the lefty had a right shoulder issue that bugged him during the year, adding that it might have played a role in Carlson’s struggles at times.
BIRD FEED: Starters for the first three Grapefruit League games will be lefty Ricky Romero, Marc Rzepczynski and Brandon Morrow, respectively. Dana Eveland and Roenicke will also appear in the opener on Wednesday, while Brett Cecil and Kyle Drabek are slated to follow Rzepczzynski on Thursday. Also on Friday, Brad Mills will start a “B” game against Philly. … For those who may have missed it, righty Dustin McGowan threw in a live BP session on Sunday. A few days earlier, Walton said McGowan was not scheduled to take part in that activity. The Jays checked with McGowan and decided to allow him to take that step.
HEADS UP! During a live batting practice session on Monday, Joey Gathright sent the first pitch he saw from Morrow slicing foul over the left field fence. The baseball headed at a frightening angle into the bullpen, where pitchers were throwing off the mounds. A few people yelled and a calm reply came from the bullpen, “Got it!” Taking a break between pitches, reliever Jeremy Accardo reached up and caught the line drive on a fly.
CLUBHOUSE CONFIDENTAIL: The Quote of the Day from the daily schedule sheet on Monday read, “Life is like a train, you expect delays from time to time, but not a derailment.” — Willie Stargell. … Scott Richmond (native of North Vancouver) made a “gold” medal in honor of the USA vs. Canada gold medal game. It was tin foil, spray painted yellow (he found the paint in a maintenance shed), forged into a round medallion and hanging from a Baseball Canada lanyard. Before the end of the day, the medal had been destroyed by one of Richmond’s teammates. The pitcher also left the clubhouse wearing his Team Canada baseball hat and jersey.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
courtesy of Getty images
Richmond with his “gold” medal
MARATHON UPDATE: For anyone wondering, I set a new personal best on Sunday at the Gasparilla Distance Classic in Tampa, my fourth career marathon. I finished the 26.2-mile race in 3:43:45, shaving more than 20 minutes off my previous best. In my age group (25-29), I ranked 30th out of 104. I was 280th out of 1,236 men and 346th out of 2,090 finishers overall. The course was awesome and the weather was perfect.