Notes from Game 2
In the race for rotation spots, it has become increasingly clear that Marc Rzepczynski would have to pitch his was out of the competition this spring.
Cito Gaston has made it no secret that he was very impressed with the young lefty last season and the Blue Jays manager reiterated that again after Zep’s Grapefruit League debut on Thursday against the Tigers.
“I like the way he pitched for us last year,” Gaston said. “As I’ve said, his record surely didn’t show how well he pitched for us last year, but he did a good job. And, he did a great job today. Like I’ve said, when we leave, we leave with him.”
With that last statement, Cito means exactly what I said in the first paragraph. Zep would have to have a horrible spring not to make the Opening Day roster. And Gaston likes him so much, that if the Jays feel he isn’t one of the best starters, the manager said he would not mind having him in the bullpen.
Against the Tigers, Rzepczynski allowed no runs on one hit (an infield single that shortstop John McDonald nearly robbed with a diving grab and throw), and he finished with one strikeout and one walk, with 22 pitches (12 strikes).
Zep did issue a leadoff walk to Austin Jackson in the first — on four pitches, too — but he escaped the jam. The next hitter, Johnny Damon, hit a soft liner to short, where Johnny Mac gloved the ball for an out, and then quickly fired to first base to double up Jackson.
The way things currently stand, I think Rzepczynski is the leading candidate for the fifth spot in the rotation. The pitchers with the edge for the front four jobs are Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum, Brandon Morrow, Brian Tallet and Dustin McGowan. I mention those five because each have been named by Gaston when discussing potential Opening Day starters.
DEBUTS: On the same day Roy Halladay made his debut as the ace of the Phillies, the Blue Jays brought all three prospects acquired in the Doc deal to the game against Detroit. Kyle Drabek and Brett Wallace made their Toronto debuts. Wallace went 1-for-2 with an RBI single and a run scored. Drabek pitched the fifth and sixth innings, allowing two runs on three hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud did not play.
“It wasn’t that bad,” Gaston said of Drabek’s performance. “He was just missing just a little bit. From talking to [Jose] Molina a little bit, [pitching coach Bruce Walton] was telling me, he said he’s got good stuff. He’s firm. He just missed a little bit on certain pitches — up a little bit in the strike zone, But otherwise, his ball jumped. He was a little fired up, too.”
MOUND MOVES: The Blue Jays claimed righty Casey Fien off waivers from the Red Sox on Thursday and placed injured right-hander Scott Richmond on the 60-day DL to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Richmond has been bothered with a right shoulder impingement, the same injury that dogged him down the stretch last year. The club really isn’t sure when Richmond will be able to return, but the Jays are not currently looking into surgery. As for Fien, he adds depth to the bullpen, and helps because he has player options. Toronto has a few arms in the mix for jobs who are out of options, as well as a Rule 5 pick in camp, and there is the possibility that Toronto could lose those pitchers if they do not make the Opening Day roster. Fien protects the Jays in case they face that type of situation.
CECIL SLICED: Lefty Brett Cecil, who is in the mix for a rotation job this spring, was scratched from Thursday’s game after cutting the thumb on his throwing hand. Walton said Cecil sliced the digit while cooking. Chatting with GM Alex Anthopoulos, he said Cecil can still throw, but the cut does hinder his curveball. So early in the spring, the Jays just wanted to be cautious, holding the lefty out of his two-inning appearance on Thursday. Cecil should be worked into a game in the next couple days.
BIRD FEED: Catching prospect J.P. Arencibia belted a mammoth two-run home run to break a 7-7 tie in the ninth inning, sending the Jays to a 9-7 win over Detroit. The blast — off Zach Miner — flew to left-center field and landed well up the hill over the wall. “I think this kid is going to be a legit catcher,” Gaston said. … Ray (formerly Reidier) Gonzalez made his spring debut for the Jays, giving up four runs (three earned) on five hits over two innings. … Jarrett Hoffpair made an error at third base for the Jays, one day after commiting one at second. In all, Toronto has made four errors through two spring games. … Wednesday’s home run hero, Chris “The Big” Lubanski, went 0-for-3 on Thursday. … The battle for the bench spots is on. Brian Dopirak went 2-for-3 with one RBI, Randy Ruiz went 1-for-3 with one RBI, Mike McCoy went 1-for-2 with a walk, a run scored and a two-out bunt single (small ball!), Jeremy Reed went 1-for-3 with one RBI and Joey Gathright finished 1-for-2 with one RBI. … Travis Snider went 1-for-2 with a walk one day after striking out twice. … And, remember, we’re only two games in, so don’t read too much into any of this! There’s a lot of baseball to be played.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
COMING UP: The Blue Jays take on the Phillies (no Doc, sorry) on Friday at Dunedin Stadium. Brandon Morrow starts for Toronto. Lance Broadway and David Purcey are also down to log two innings. Jesse Carlson, Casey Janssen and Jeremy Accardo will pitch one inning each. In a “B” game, Brad Mills will start against the Phils. Pitching prospects Zach Stewart, Chad Jenkins and Luis Perez are also scheduled to appear.