Notes from Game 5

Ruiz3.jpgAll Randy Ruiz has done since he joined the Blue Jays organization is flat out hit.

At Triple-A Las Vegas last year, the big man from the Bronx hit .320 with 25 homers, 43 doubles and 106 RBIs en route to the Pacific Coast League Player of the Year Award. In 33 games after being promoted to Toronto, Ruiz hit .313 with 10 homers and 17 RBIs. In Puerto Rico this winter? Try .347 with eight homers and 31 RBIs in 32 games.

So, why should anyone be surpised at what he’s doing this spring?

In the first inning on Sunday, Ruiz stepped into the batter’s box at Dunedin Stadium with the bases full of Blue Jays. What’d he do? Only rip a pitch from Detroit’s Jeremy Bonderman, sending it well over the left-field wall for a grand slam. Through five spring games, Ruiz is only hitting .615.

“He certainly has a chance to make this club if he keeps swinging like that,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said.

Helping Ruiz’s cause is the condition he arrived in this spring. Before the offseason, Gaston and the Jays sat down with Ruiz and told him he should show up to Spring Training lighter if he was serious about earning a spot on the Opening Day roster. All Ruiz did was shed 22 pounds while balancing winter ball and an offseason move to Las Vegas.

“In the past, I used to always eat heavy foods and just go to sleep,” Ruiz said. “That was one of the major no-no’s now that my trainer said not to do. And it’s working. I feel different, I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve lost so much weight. I feel better, but I feel different. I’m not used to being this light.

“I’ve always been heavy my whole life. But, this is what I had to do. These guys wanted me to come into camp and be ready and get lighter and I have to do what they want.”

Ruiz is essentially competing against fellow first baseman/designated hitter Brian Dopirak for a spot on the Blue Jays’ bench. Toronto has three bench jobs open: a backup catcher, a backup outfielder and a backup first baseman. Gaston likes Ruiz a lot, but is not ready to say he’s a lock to make the cut.

“There’s not much room here,” Gaston said. “I’m not saying he’s on the club, but he certainly has a good chance of making it.”

Gaston paused and smiled.

“Keep hitting grand slams.”

BIRD FEED: RHP Dustin McGowan is scheduled to throw a two-inning simulated game at 10 a.m. on Tuesday at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. … LHP Brett Cecil (cut left thumb) will throw in a bullpen session on Monday and is scheduled to log two innings in a “B” game on Wednesday. … Also scheduled to pitch in the “B” game: Brandon Morrow (3 innings), Josh Roenicke (1-2 innings), Marc Rzepczynski (3 innings). … Scheduled to pitch on Wednesday: Lance Broadway, Kyle Drabek, David Purcey, two innings each; Jason Frasor, Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, Zach Jackson, one inning each. … The Jays have reassigned RHP Daniel Farquhar, C Travis d’Arnaud and C Matt Liuzza to Minor League camp. … Gaston noted that LF Travis Snider’s focus at the plate right now is on getting into fastball counts and working on hitting that particular pitch. … 2B Aaron Hill went 2-for-2 with a walk on Sunday. He has reached base 10 times in 11 plate appearances this spring (6 walks, 4 hits). … OF Jose Bautista (playing third while 3B Edwin Encarnacion sits with a tender left wrist) belted another leadoff homer for the Jays on Sunday. He’s hitting .636 this spring. … CF Vernon Wells hit his first homer of the spring, a two-run shot that went into the trees above the left-field wall in the second inning on Sunday. … Frasor, Gregg, Downs, Shawn Camp, Farquhar and Rommie Lewsis each logged one inning on Sunday. Only Gregg allowed a run, surrendering a homer to Detroit’s Gerald Laird in the fourth. … LHP Brian Tallet made his spring debut and allowed four runs on four hits, including two homers, in two innings. Tallet is being given every chance at making the club as a starter. The lefty said he’s focusing on his curve this spring in an effort to improve his showing against left-handed hitters. … Due to pitch on Monday in Kissimmee against Houston: Ricky Romero (3 innings), Dana Eveland (3 innings), Chad Jenkins (1-2 innings), plus Zach Stewart, Merkin Valdez, Zech Zinicola and Willie Collazo. … Zinicola and first base prospect Brett Wallace were college teammates at Arizona State.

QUOTABLE: “The locker room here has a really good vibe. It’s really good mojo in here. It’s fairly young and the older guys are really open to talking. They’re not going to bust your chops or make you be quiet for two years before they talk to you or something. They’re really cool. I dig it here.” — Zinicola, who joined the Jays as a Rule 5 pick in December

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Opening Day Predictions: Part 2

Every Saturday from now until the end of camp, I plan on including my current predictions for the Opening Day roster. Fave games into the Grapefruit League schedule, here is who I believe will be among the 25 players headed north:

PITCHERS — Starters: Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero Brandon Morrow, Brian Tallet, Marc Rzepczynski. Relievers: Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, Jason Frasor, Shawn Camp, Jesse Carlson, Casey Janssen, Jeremy Accardo

POS. PLAYERS: John Buck, Jose Molina, Lyle Overbay, Aaron Hill, Alex Gonzalez, Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind, Jeremy Reed, Vernon Wells, Jose Bautista, John McDonald, Joey Gathright, Randy Ruiz.

CHANGES: Travis Snider removed. Jeremy Reed added.

REASONING: It’s very early and I expect Travis Snider to bounce back from a subpar week and ultimately work his way back onto this list. That said, Snider needs to show improved plate discipline, cut down down his strikeouts and show he can handle lefties in order to convince the Jays to hand him a full-time job in left field. Gaston won’t put Snider in a platoon situation, so it’s Triple-A Las Vegas to open the year unless Snider can impress Toronto this spring. If Snider needs more time to develop, Reed might head north to open the year.

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For complete Blue Jays coverage this spring, make sure you’re reading bluejays.com and following me on Twitter at @MLBastian. You can also find spring photos on TwitPic.com.

~JB

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11 Comments

Bringing Gartright and Reed north is a waste of time and reminds me of guys like Wilkerson and Mench. They are both nothing more than .250 low obp hitters with no power.
McCoy is a much better option than either one of these since he’s plays both the infield and outfield and has a better bat with better plate disipline.

In addition, I wouldn’t be quite so hasty as to write off Snider. He’s in process of learning a new batting stance and arm position and is starting to hit the ball hard. I suspect in a week or so, he’ll be right on track and is the future. Our only future with guys like Gartright and Reed is last place.

In addition, although I know Cito loves Tallet, we haven’t seen Cecil pitch yet and Tallet wasn’t all that great today nor was he a great starter last year with an era of 5.32. In addition he turns 33 this year, so he’s got little left to give and certainly won’t be a starter in 2 years for this club.

Tallet, like Gartright and Reed will not be part of a winning club, Cecil and or Mills might be. This year is supposed to be building for the future; if all we do is bring up some has beens or never will be’s and keep our kids on the farm, we’re not walking the talk, all we’re doing is talking.

One last point, we picked up McCoy on waivers, we have to offer him back if we don’t keep him on the roster-why on earth would we do that to keep Gartright and Reed-makes no sense to me.

ALRIGHT RANDY! If you keep hitting at a .600 average you have a CHANCE TO MAKE THE TEAM!! Thanks for giving the guy hope Cito.

If they picked up McCoy on waivers, they do not have to “offer him back” if he doesn’t make the team. That only happens if the player is taken in the Rule 5 Draft. If McCoy is out of options, however, they have to put him on waivers before they send him down, and any team can claim him.
I hope he makes the team too, but the minors are full of players that tear the cover off the ball in Spring and then fade as the pitchers round into mid season form, and the opposition starts to find holes in their swings.

I certainly agree that Tallet isn’t in the rotation in a couple of years, but in the meantime, he is a veteran on a VERY young rotation. He also has the ability to jump back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen. I would rather see young arms like Cecil and Mills get regular starts in AAA than the irregular work they would get as the fifth man on the Jay’s rotation.
I also predict that even if they start the season in the minors, we will see them at some point during the season. As AA sez, you need 11 starters to get through a full season of major league baseball.

Of Course, McCoy won’t keep hitting like he’s hitting, BUT what gets me interested in him is his high OBP and flexibility. Here’s the facts:

McCoy has played 861 games in the minors, of these games, he started or played the following positions…..2nd-325 games…short-304 games…3rd-127 games…cf-32 games…rf/lf-84 games…pitcher-3 games (era of 1.59)……
In 3 seasons of AAA he hit .293/.387/.391 over 314 games/993 at bats, walked 159 times, struck out 160 times, stole 59 bases and gdp only 16 times (or about what Wells did in half of last season-lol)….
Good potential hitter for top of the batting order.His fielding % over all of these positions was .960. At short that was .954 and 4.41 range, at 2nd it was .966 and 4.86, very acceptable for minor league fields..
My point, though is Reed and Gathright have already proven they’re inept at the MLB level, they’re nothing more than .250BA/.310OBP hitters with no pop-reminding me of Wilkerson and Mench.
I believe Snider will get it and take one of these positions but why would we want to keep either of these guys and risk loosing McCoy who might be a real asset-makes no sense at all?

“He also has the ability to jump back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen.” That I agree with, which is the major reason I want him in the pen, not in the rotation. It is a young rotation, we will need guys coming out of the pen capable of sucking up 3-4 innings on occasion. Camp is one candidate, Tallet in my view is the other. That’s his value to this club, not being a starter with a 5.32 era like last year.

One of the reasons for Tallet’s 5.62 ERA is the fact that he stepped in and threw 160.2 innings last year; quite a jump from 56.1 the previous year, and a career high of 62.1 the year before. I am pulling for him to earn a spot on the rotation this year and do really well. Most of the younger pitchers like Cecil, Mills, and Ray were brought up way too soon last year, and another year or 2 in the minors will only make them better.
And of course, by holding down a starting job for at least 90 days, he will stave off a year of free agency for one of our minor league arms like Cecil or Mills.

gsjays:

Please read up on the difference between the Rule 5 draft and waivers.

Rule 5 draft – player offered back to club

waivers – standard rules apply, presumably includng options, although I’m not positive

McCoy would be exposed to waivers if sent down without an option, not offered back to the Rockies

Zechery Zinicola is the player that the Jays grabbed in the Rule 5 from the Nationals. He would be offered back if not maintained on the active roster and/or DL.

Steve

cp-I know the difference, just forgot he was acquired on waivers, BUT in the end it doesn’t make a difference, we’d loose him anyway.

Yer-That’s not Tallet’s problem, his problem is how hitters are hitting him because of poor control. he picks at the edges-misses, walks guys and finally gives in and throws it down the middle and gets hammered. Go check his BAA and OBPA in the first 3 innings, it’s horrific and was all year. He walks 4.3 guys per 9 innings-that tells you all you need to know.

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