Notes from Game 3
Earlier this week, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said that the third baseman would likely be in the lineup for Friday’s game against the Phillies. But then Minor Leaguer Bras Emaus got the start.
It turns out that the left wrist that Encarnacion had surgically repaired over the offseason is still a little tender. Gaston said that it is not considered serious, adding that the third baseman will likely be slotted in some time next week.
“We’re just going to give him a few more days,” Gaston said. “There’s nothing going on. He’s not hurt. I think he’ll probably play on Thursday of next week. There’s nothing going on, He just feels a little weak in that hand, so we don’t want to rush him. If he comes to me and tells me he’s good before then, he’ll go before then.”
Until then, you’ll probably see Jose Bautista and Emaus continue to get some playing time at third. This is one reason why outfielders Joey Gathright and Jeremy Reed are getting a good look this spring. Bautista will likely play right, but he’s also a backup at third, creating a need for more outfield depth on the bench.
LEADOFF EXTRAORDINAIRE: We’re only two games in here, but Bautista really seems to be digging this whole leading off thing. On Friday, he smashed an 0-1 pitch from Cole Hamels over the wall in center for a leadoff homer in the first. He finished 3-for-3 with two doubles and three runs scored.
“I think I’ll leave him right where he’s at,” Gaston said with a chuckle. “He’s been swinging the bat, man, ever since he got a chance to play at the end of last season. … He’s one of the guys I thought about all winter for a leadoff guy. We didn’t really pick up anybody else to do that job, so he fits it pretty good.”
THE “B” TEAM: The Jays played the Phillies in a B game on Friday as well. Lefty Brad Mills, who was a front-runner for a rotation job last spring, worked two innings and struck out four with two hits allowed. This year, given the long list of arms in the hunt for jobs, Mills is a long shot to make the cut come Opening Day.
“Mills looked like a different kid all together,” Gaston said. “He looked even better than he did all last year, even in Spring Training when everybody was so excited about him. I don’t know. It’s tough. It’s tough, because if you look at what we have, I don’t know. [The rotation race] is open. We’ll just hope he keeps going and see what happens.”
Chad Jenkins, the top pick in the June Draft, also logged two innings, striking out one and walking one with one hit allowed. Said Gaston, “I told him if he stays healthy he should move [up] pretty quick.” Highlighting the offense was first baseman David Cooper, who homered in the 3-2 win.
HEADING TO TAMPA? Here’s some Blue Jays you might see against the Yankees on Saturday: Shaun Marcum, Willie Collazo, Zach Jackson, Rommie Lewis, Robert Ray, Steven Register, Merkin Valdez, Zech Zinicola, Travis d’Arnaud, J.P. Arencibia, Matt Liuzza, Jose Molina, Brian Dopirak, Brad Emaus, Alex Gonzalez, Aaron Hill, Mike McCoy, Jesus Merchan, Lyle Overbay, Randy Ruiz, Jose Bautista, Adam Lind, Adam Loewen, Jorge Padilla, Jeremy Reed, Travis Snider, Vernon Wells. Encarnacion’s name was also circled, but he might not be on the trip.
BIRD FEED: Right-hander Dustin McGowan is not currently penciled in for a Spring Training game. First, the Blue Jays are going to have him throw in a simulated game on either March 9 or 10, according to pitching coach Bruce Walton. Toronto will then build from there. … Second baseman Aaron Hill drew two more walks on Friday, giving him four free passes in his first five plate appearances of the spring. … In the first inning, Brandon Morroww threw 20 pitches (nine strikes). He looked much sharper in the second, when he threw 10 pitches (eight strikes). Morrow said he is working on slowing down his delivery, staying back in his mechanics and focusing on a changeup he began working hard on last season. … Pitchers Shawn Hill, Jesse Litsch, Scott Richmond and Dirk Hayhurst (all on the disabled list with arm injuries) have returned to Minor League camp to continue their rehab. … The Blue Jays scored eight runs in the fourth inning against the Phils on Friday. Lyle Overbay had a three-run double and Bautista had a two-run double in the inning. … LHP David Purcey, on the egde of the rotation race, allowed three runs on seven hits in two innings on Friday. LHP Jesse Carlson also allowed three runs in his lone inning of work. RHP Jeremy Accardo gave up two runs in one inning. … Chatted some with Brian Dopirak today. He put on 15-20 pounds of muscle over the winter and is aiming at making a strong impression with the Jays this spring. He’s in the running for a bench role, basically competing against Randy Ruiz. … Also had a good discussion with catching prospect J.P. Arencibia. Check bluejays.com for a feature on him later today.
BASE BURNER: Phillies outfield prospect Tyson Gillies — one of the Minor Leaguers acquired by Philadelphia from Seattle in exchange for Cliff Lee — turned in one of the fastest home-run “trots” I have ever seen on Friday. He homered off Purcey and then flat-out sprinted around the bases. That has Gaston laughing some after the game.
“Oh, man. Wow,” said Gaston, smiling. “He got a lean, too. That means he can really get around those bases. He’s leaning the right way. Inside lean. That’ll get you around there quick.”
QUOTABLE: “I was rushing through a little bit in the first inning. But that’s hard not to do when it’s your first outing and you’re facing the two-time defending NL champs with five All-Stars in a row starting it off.” — Morrow