Notes from Game 8

Marcum3.jpgCould it actually be a good thing for the Blue Jays’ clubhouse that Roy Halladay is gone?

Now, hear me out.

I’m not saying that the Blue Jays would not want Halladay still leading their rotation, but there has been a noticeable difference in the clubhouse this year. Without Halladay, and his intimidating presence, the room feels looser and it seems like the players are openly having a lot more fun this spring.

Shaun Marcum agreed. Ane he feels it has been easier for him to step up as a leader for the younger pitchers in camp this year.

“Everybody’s a lot more loose and relaxed and laid back, myself included,” Marcum said on Thursday. “I try to be a leader and it was hard. I’ve always been a leader my whole baseball career, ever since I was nine until I got to pro ball. It was kind of hard to be a leader when you had Roy Halladay on your staff. You can’t really out-do him or anything.

“Other than that, you try to talk to the young guys, you try to have fun. I joke around with them all the time. I just try to keep them loose, that’s how I’ve always been, that’s how I was brought up. I’ll try to do the same thing and just have fun with it.”

Left-handers Ricky Romero and Brian Tallet have also noted that things have been looser in the clubhouse since Halladay was traded, opening the door for other people to step up and assume the leadership void left by his departure. There’s no question that the Jays would have loved to keep Halladay around. But there’s also no denying that the atmosphere around the team this year has been different.

BULLPEN WATCH: So much attention has been given to the rotation battle that it is easy to overlook one of the more intriguing questions surrounding the Blue Jays this spring. Who will be in the bullpen come Opening Day. The only locks are Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg.

The rest of the field is wide open with lots of candidates. A few of the leading contenders include Shawn Camp, Jesse Carlson, Jeremy Accardo, Casey Janssen and Josh Roenicke. Others in the mix include Zech Zinicola, Steven Register, Lance Broadway, Merkin Valdez, Zach Jackson and maybe Dana Eveland, among others.

Camp2.jpgOn Thursday, Camp logged two innings and gave up three runs on six hits, including a home run. The right-hander had no walks and no strikeouts and saw his spring ERA jump to 9.00. Camp is one player who is out of options, so he can’t be sent to the Minors without clearing waivers first.

“It’s still a little bit too early to say what’s what out there,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said of the bullpen. “Camp did a good job for us last year. He was very durable, as far as giving us some innings when we needed it. He didn’t have a great day today, but that’s just one day. But, we do have a lot of choices this year. A lot more than we had last year.”

Gaston was asked if pitchers such as Camp and Carlson might have an advantage, since the manager is familiar with them.

“Absolutely,” Gaston said. “It helps, because I know what kind of people they are and what they’re about. Certainly that helps them. That helps a lot.”

WHO’S NO. 1? As I noted yesterday, Marcum is lined up to be the Opening Day starter if he sticks to a regular five-day program from here on out. On Thursday, Marcum showed exactly why he’s being seriousbly considered for the honor. Three innings: 0 runs, 1 hit, 0 walks, 2 strikes, 39 pitches (31 strikes).

“If he keeps going like that, I would say he’s got a good chance to be the Opening Day starter,” Gaston admitted.

Again, as I wrote yesterday, it says here that the rotation (barring injuries or setbacks) will be Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Marc Rzepczynski and Brian Tallet come Opening Day. Marcum in the first slot also makes sense because Romero, Rzepczynski and Tallet are all lefties. That order would split things up R-L-R-L-L.

NEW INK: Marcum was sporting a new tattoo, which he said got about two weeks ago. It is a large yellow and green family crest from England. It stretches from his right shoulder down his arm to about the elbow. Asked why he got it, Marcum didn’t have any elaborate story. “I got bored,” he said with a laugh. Marcum’s first tat? A batter on his right shoulder blade. When he switched to pitching, he had it covered with larger tattoo.

DUSTIN THE WIND: Righty Dustin McGowan, who threw a two-inning simulated game on Tuesday, is tentatively scheduled to throw a second simulated game on Sunday. Walton said McGowan has felt fine over the past few days, a great sign. If everything goes well after his next sim game, McGowan might begin working in Grapefruit League contests.

BIRD FEED: Pitching coach Bruce Walton and catcher Jose Molina raved about Marcum’s changeup. “I looked at the arm speed on his changeup today and it was awesome,” Walton said. “I couldn’t pick it up. They couldn’t pick it up. He’s just passing all the tests with flying colors right now.” Walton and Marcum both noted that the pitcher is focusing on his curveball right now and the righty said he plans on using it more than he has in the past. Marcum added that he has not started to throw cutters in games yet. … Lefty Brad Mills worked two innings on Thursday and allowed one run on three hits. … Joey Gathright got the start in center field and led off, finishing 1-for-3 with one RBI and one strikeout. Gathright attempted a bunt single to open the first, but was thrown out. Gathright has a very good chance of making the Opening Day roster. … Jarrett Hoffpauir started at third and made an error in the first inning, forcing Marcum to throw five more pitches in the inning. It was Hoffpauir’s third error of the spring. … Prized prospect Brett Wallace started as the DH and hit third in the order, but went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. … Randy Ruiz went 0-for-3 with one strikeout.

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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2 Comments

The difference in the clubhouse feel is interesting, I guess since Doc lead by example more than actually taking guys under his wing and talking to them, some actually did become intimidated with him. I can see that happening. One thing is for sure, what we do need with all these kids is a very loose clubhouse.

Thank you for your insight on this story, Jordan, you are doing a remarkable job this year of keeping us informed.

I noted the following in the above blog-Gathright has a very good chance of making the Opening Day roster. Why would we ever bring this guy north and take away a spot from either Ruiz, Dopirak, McCoy or Snider?
Gathright is not going to be with this team in a year, so why take away precious roster spots from guys who will be-makes no sense to me. Of course, maybe his stellar spring performance of .188/.235/.188 is actually better than McCoy at .667/.750/.778. lol

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