March 2010

Overbay exits with knee injury

Blue Jays first baseman Lyle Overbay exited Friday’s game at Dunedin Stadium in the first inning with what the club is calling a “left knee contusion.” Following an awkward play at first, Overbay met with head traininer George Poulis and then limped off the field and headed for the clubhouse.

After Tampa Bay’s Jason Bartlett doubled to lead off the game, Carl Crawford bunted a pitch from Toronto starter Shaun Marcum down the first base line. Marcum sprinted toward the ball and gloved it, heading near the foul line as he made the play.

At first base, Overbay positioned himself in foul territory, but Marcum’s throw carried behind a sprinting Crawford to the inside part of first base. Overbay quickly adjusted, but nearly collided with Crawford. The first baseman recorded the out and then fell awkwardly, appearing to injury the knee on the play.

No word on how much time Overbay might miss, but it does not sound serious.

~JB

Game 19: Rays at Jays

TAMPA BAY AT TORONTO
at 1:05 p.m. ET in Dunedin

Thumbnail image for Rays.jpgRAYS (15-7)
1. Jason Bartlett, SS
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. Gabe Kapler, CF
4. Evan Longoria, 3B
5. B.J. Upton, DH
6. Kelly Shoppach, C
7. Sean Rodriguez, 2B
8. Hank Blalock, 1B
9. Elliot Johnson, RF

Pitching: Wade Davis

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgBLUE JAYS (9-9)
1. Jose Bautista, 3B
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Jeremy Reed, LF
4. Lyle Overbay, 1B
5. Chris Lubanski, RF
6. Michael McDade, DH
7. Alex Gonzalez, SS
8. Raul Chavez, C
9. Joey Gathright, CF

Pitching: Shaun Marcum

~JB

Notes from Game 18

Overbay5.jpglt was suggested last week — in a feature one paper ran about Lyle Overbay — that the Blue Jays first baseman might find himself in a platoon situation this season.

While there is always the chance that Overbay may indeed wind up in a platoon at first at some point this year, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston told me on Thursday afternoon that Overbay will be in there every day to begin the coming season.

“Overbay will be out there full-time,” Gaston said.

What does that mean? Well, it could mean Randy Ruiz finds himself searching for at-bats in a hurry. Right now, third baseman Edwin Encarnacion appears to be on pace to be ready in time for Opening Day, which would create a domino effect for the starting lineup.

With Encarnacion on the DL: Jose Bautista moves from right field to third, Travis Snider likely moves from left to right field, Adam Lind likely moves from DH to left and Ruiz winds up as the everday DH to open the year. This is assuming Snider makes the team, of course, and it appears as though he will.

With Encarnacion in the mix: Bautista stays in right, Snider likely opens as the left fielder, Lind resumes his role as the everyday designated hitter and Ruiz winds up on the bench. The Jays have already said they don’t want Snider in a platoon, Lind definitely won’t be in a platoon and now Gaston said Overbay will also play against both right-handed and left-handed pitchers.

Gaston has said repeatedly that he believes Ruiz — a career Minor Leaguer who is finally getting a chance to open a year in the big leagues — has the potential to hit around .280 with 20-25 homers and around 75-80 RBIs with regular playing time. The way the roster is shaping up, though, there might not be an excess of at-bats for Ruiz.

Now, there is another element to this that could make it a tempory situation. Overbay is a free agent after this season and he is not a part of the Jays’ long-term plans (especially with prospect Brett Wallace now in the farm system). If the Jays can find a taker for Overbay, and the return is decent enough, the club would likely move him.

There is a good chance that Overbay is not with the Blue Jays for the entire 2010 season. Wallace might force the Jays’ hand at some point, or Overbay might be dealt. In the latter scenario, that could create an opportunity for Ruiz to man first base more often until Wallace is deemed ready.

But, for now…

“Lyle’s really swinging the bat good,” Gaston said. “I hope he takes it into the season and has one heck of a season and — whether he is back here or somwhere else — get a great contract for him and his family. Either way it goes, if he’s here, great. If he’s not back here, we’re going to miss him, because even if he doesn’t hit anything he plays great defense for you.”

OVERDRIVE: That’s what Marc Rzepczynski said his mind was running on during Thursday’s five-inning outing against the Tigers. The young lefty allowed three runs on four hits with four walks, one hit batsmen and two strikeouts in an 80-plus pitch performance. What was the problem?

“I was getting into my own head too much today,” Rzepczynski said. “I was getting into my own head about trying to fix my mechanics.”

In the first inning, Rzepczynski “flew open” in his delivery and sent a fastball bouncing off the right shoulder blade of Tigers leadoff man Clete Thomas. Then, Zep walked Ryan Raburn. Two batters later, Miguel Cabrera sent a pitch to the right-center field gap for a two-run double. Rzepczynski said the problem early was with his fastball command.

“I was struggling with the fastball early, as you could tell by the first inning,” Rzepczynski said. “We decided to go with the breaking ball, which I don’t like doing in the spring, but I was able to go to my breaking ball and throw that for strikes, which enabled us to establish the fastball later.

“I was able kind of find a little bit of a groove back to where I should be — except for walking Cabrera on four straight pitches with two outs [in the fifth]. The walks got to me today. It was just one of those games where I just fell too much out of mechanics and was thinking too much about it.

“Basically, to make a really long story short, I was thinking too much.”

Fortunately, it’s only Spring Training. Rzepczynski knows mechanical flaws will pop up during his starts. What is important is making the proper in-game adjustments and to not get caught up in what is going wrong. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston agreed.

“That goes through a lot of guys’ heads sometimes, even hitters,” Gaston said. “You start thinking about your mechanics and not thinking about what you’re doing out there. You can’t do both. As I say to hitters, if you’re thinking about mechanics, the next thing you know the catcher is throwing the ball back to the pitcher. You can’t go out there an think about mechanics. Just think about pitching.”

USE YOUR GLOVE: The third hitter for Detroit in the first inning, Carlos Guillen, chopped a pitch back up the middle — right at Rzepczynski. As the ball bounced high above the pitcher’s head, he reached up with his left hand and was struck by the baseball. Rzepczynski was fine, escaping what could have been a regrettable play.

“Sometimes I just get reactionary,” Rzepczynski said. “I just stuck my bare hand in there. I’ve done it before. I try not to, but it’s the first ball I’ve had hit back at me this spring. I was trying to react and trying to get it. It’s fine. I’ve got a little rugburn, I want to say, just friction from the ball. It caught the tip [of my fingers]. I didn’t feel it the rest of the game.”

BIRD FEED: Gaston said the Blue Jays’ regular starting lineup will be used every game, beginning on Saturday and through the rest of the Florida portion of Spring Training. “It’s getting time to get them ready for the season,” Gaston said. “They might get somewhat of a break down in Houston, but before then they’ll probably run out there every day.”  … Encarnacion went 1-for-2 with a walk, strikeout and stolen base in his first Grapefruit League game of the spring for the Jays. Gaston said Encarnacion will now be a regular part of the lineup, though he might not play full games until next week. Edwin missed the bulk of the spring slate while resting a weak left wrist. Encarnacion is feeling good and Cito believes he’ll be ready in time for Opening Day. “Right now, I think he’s got a chance to be in there,” Gaston said.” … UTIL Mike McCoy, who is a leading contender for a bench role, also played on Thursday, his first Grapefruit League game since March 13. McCoy (right shoulder) went 0-for-2 with a walk and a run scored. “I’m happy to be back in there,” McCoy said. “It felt good to play again. I played a couple Minor League games and I felt pretty good. I felt like my timing was a little bit off, but I felt better today.” Cito indicated before the game that McCoy “certainly has a great chance” of making the team. … LHP Jesse Carlson (left knee) is scheduled to pitch in a Minor League game on Friday. … RHP Brandon Morrow (right shoulder) is scheduled to throw off a mound on Friday and is slated to start on Monday, barring any setbacks. If Morrow needs to open on the DL, Cito has said he will decided between LHP Brett Cecil and LHP Dana Eveland for the vacated rotation spot. … Pitchers for Friday’s split squad games: In Fort Myers vs. Red Sox – Cecil, Marty McCleary, Zach Jackson, Dan DeLucia, Jonah Bayliss; In Dunedin vs. Rays – Shaun Marcum, Kevin Gregg, David Purcey, Merkin Valdez. … Thursday marked the first time this spring that closer candidates Scott Downs, Jason Frasor and Gregg did not pitch on the same day. Downs allowed two runs on three hits in one inning, while Frasor logged one shutout frame against the Tigers. … Roenicke, who is on the bubble for a spot in the bullpen, worked one shutout inning in relief on Thursday.

O-FER: Talk about a rough day in the batter’s box for the Blue Jays. Vernon Wells, Jeremy Reed, Jose Molina, Snider, Lind and Ruiz combined to go 0-for-17 at the plate in Thursday’s 5-1 loss to Detroit. After a first-inning sac fly from Wells, the Jays were blanked for the next eight innings.

———————————————————————————-

2010 GRAPEFRUIT LEAGUE SERIES

DETROIT (3-3) vs. TORONTO (3-3)

GAME ONE: Tigers 7, Blue Jays 6 (March 3)
GAME TWO: Blue Jays 9, Tigers 7 (March 4
GAME THREE: Blue Jays 4, Tigers 1 (March 7)
GAME FOUR: Tigers 10, Blue Jays 7 (March 15)
GAME FIVE: Blue Jays 9, Tigers 7 (March 22)
GAME SIX: Tigers 5, Blue Jays 1 (March 25)
GAME SEVEN: Monday at Dunedin Stadium

Keep the champagne on ice…

———————————————————————————-

QUOTABLE: “I’m good at redirecting the ball off all of my body parts. I’ve gotten a few outs off my butt, off my hand, off my shin, a couple things.” – Rzepczynski

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

var OutbrainPermaLink=’http://mlblogsmlbastian.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/overbay5-thumb-250×402-18772211.jpgarchives/2010/03/notes_from_game_17.html’;
var OB_Template = “mlbblogs”;
var OB_demoMode = false;
var OBITm = “1241712535489″;
var OB_langJS =’http://widgets.outbrain.com/lang_en.js’;
if ( typeof(OB_Script)!=’undefined’ )
OutbrainStart();
else {
var OB_Script = true;
var str = ”;
document.write(str);
}

Game 18 lineups: Jays at Tigers

THE 2010 GRAPEFRUIT LEAGUE SERIES

GAME SIX: TORONTO AT DETROIT
at 1:05 p.m. ET in Lakeland

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgBLUE JAYS (9-8, 3-2 vs. Tigers)
1. Mike McCoy, 2B
2. John McDonald, SS
3. Adam Lind, DH
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Randy Ruiz, 1B
6. Jeremy Reed, LF
7. Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
8. Travis Snider, RF
9. Jose Molina, C

Pitching: Marc Rzepczynski

Tigers.gifTIGERS (12-8, 2-3 vs. Jays)
1. Clete Thomas, RF
2. Ryan Raburn, 2B
3. Carlos Guillen, DH
4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
5. Gerald Laird, C
6. Wilkin Ramirez, LF
7. Brandon Inge, 3B
8. Don Kelly, CF
9. Ramon Santiago, SS

Pitching: Dontrelle Willis

Series Results:

GAME ONE: Tigers 7, Blue Jays 6 (March 3)
GAME TWO: Blue Jays 9, Tigers 7 (March 4
GAME THREE: Blue Jays 4, Tigers 1 (March 7)
GAME FOUR: Tigers 10, Blue Jays 7 (March 15)
GAME FIVE: Blue Jays 9, Tigers 7 (March 22)
GAME SIX: Today at Joker Marchant Stadium
*GAME SEVEN: Monday at Dunedin Stadium

*still necessary

~JB

var OutbrainPermaLink=’http://mlblogsmlbastian.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/tigers3.gifarchives/2010/03/game_1_lineups_tigers_at_blue.html’;
var OB_Template = “mlbblogs”;
var OB_demoMode = false;
var OBITm = “1241712535489″;
var OB_langJS =’http://widgets.outbrain.com/lang_en.js’;
if ( typeof(OB_Script)!=’undefined’ )
OutbrainStart();
else {
var OB_Script = true;
var str = ”;
document.write(str);
}

2010 Dot Com Dash Results

Finish.jpgThat is a joyous Anthony Dicomo, crossing the finish line as the champion of the first annual Dot Com Dash Charity Race. Dicomo (who mainly covers the Mets and Yankees for MLB.com) won the half-mile challenge with a time of 2:29. I came in at 2:32.

Considering I’m a marathoner, I was pleased with my time, even if I was disappointed in the end result. At the start, Dicomo quickly tucked in behind me, letting me set the pace. Having never run less than a one-mile race competitively, that threw me off. I wasn’t sure if I was going out too hard or too slow.

As it turns out, I probably went out too slow. I pushed what I felt was a hard pace, but never separated myself from Dicomo enough to account for the fact that I lack strong acceleration at the end. Dicomo — a better sprinter — took advantage, passing me in the final 80 meters. He admitted afterward that he was worried for about 750 of the 800 meters.

In the end, it turned out that a half mile was a good distance for he and I to race. Dicomo and I both know that anything longer and I would have had a clear advantage. We also know that anything shorter than a half mile, he would have easily beat me, too. It was a good distance, a good race and a fun little event.

What started off as a couple guys talking smack about who could beat who in what, evolved into a small charity event thanks to social media (Twitter). A couple bloggers got involved and wagered bets that would go to different charity foundations. So, in the end, Dicomo was not the only winner in this.

Since I let down all my fans, I have decided to donate $25 to the Jays Care Foundation in the wake of my bitter defeat. Dicomo has also pledged to donate $25 to the Harlem RBI program. We also had so much fun with this little race that we hope to do it again next year, and maybe we’ll start promoting it earlier, getting even more money on the line for charity.

So, congrats, Tony. You beat me fair and square. I can respect a man who came with a strategy and executed it well. Just know that next year, beyond training for my fifth career marathon, I will also be training for the 2011 Dot Com Dash. I ran a 2:32 without training. I will crush you next spring.

 
CLICK HERE to watch video of the 2010 Dot Com Dash.

~JB

Notes from Game 17

Gonzalez3.jpgA main reason that the Blue Jays inked Alex Gonzalez to a one year deal over the offseason was due to his abilities with the glove. He is one of the game’s top shortstops, which can only help a young and developing pitching staff.

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston has had some solid shortstops in his time with the club. He is quick to mention Tony Fernandez and John McDonald. Already this spring, Gaston has been very impressed with what Gonzalez has done on defense.

“The one thing I see in Alex, and I saw it in Tony, too,” Gaston said. “I look at his face when he’s catching tough balls. It’s like, ‘No big deal. I’m supposed to catch that ball.’ That’s what I see. He’s caught a couple this spring that it’s just absolutely some kind of play.”

One visiting writer asked if Cito could offer up a comparison to the departed Marco Scutaro, who signed with the Red Sox over the winter. Gaston tiptoed around the question, noting that he had not seen enough of Gonzalez yet to give a proper answer.

“Well, man, I’ll tell you, Scutaro was steady,” Gaston said. “I haven’t had Alex long enough to know him that well. Scutaro was a very intelligent player — a smart player. We finally got him where he was hitting the ball. Come back in a couple months, I might be able to say more about it. Right now? They both have good hands, that’s for sure.”

One area Scutaro is more highly-regarded is on offense. He excelled in a full-time role as Toronto’s leadoff man and shortstop last season — a main reason Boston went after him. On Friday, Gonzalez did launch his first home run of the spring for the Jays. He’ll likely hit in the lower part of Toronto’s lineup this season. If he performs well, it will be a bonus for a club that added him primarily for his glove.

CASEY ON THE MOUND: Another game, another quick appearance, more zeroes to add to his Spring Training pitching line. Reliever Casey Janssen worked a 1-2-3 fifth inning on Wednesday, striking out two and inducing one broken-bat groundout. In five games this spring, Janssen has allowed no runs, one hit with five strikeouts in five innings.

I chatted some with Casey today and you can read more about his thoughts on his spring later on bluejays.com. Asked if he was limiting his pitch arsenal this spring as a reliever, Janssen said that he was actually sticking with all five of his pitches (fastball, cutter, curve, slider and changeup).

“I think that’s maybe a benefit for me,” Janssen said. “I can throw five pitches to a hitter and not throw the same one twice. Some hitters say it’s easier to face a bullpen guy, because you know it’s only two pitches. If I can mix it up a little bit, hopefully I can use it to my advantage, as long as I’m not sacrificing command.”

THE BULLPEN SITUATION: Ask me, and I’d say Janssen is in the bullpen right now to open the season. The only locks are Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor and Scott Downs. Shawn Camp is a safe bet to make the team and so is Jesse Carlson, as long as his left knee issue does not slow him down anymore.

That leaves one spot for Jeremy Accardo, David Purcey, Merkin Valdez, Josh Roenicke or Dana Eveland. In that group, Valdez and Eveland are out of options. Gaston said that Eveland (Wednesday’s starter) would be considered for the bullpen if starter Brandon Morrow (right shoulder) was ready for Opening Day.

Gaston values having a long reliever and Camp appears to be the only candidate for that job right now. If Gaston wanted a left-hander to handle that job, Eveland and Purcey fit the mold. If it came down to Eveland vs. Purcey for the last spot, Gaston said the fact that Eveland is out of options will definitely be taken into account.

“That’s always considered,” Gaston said.

Gaston added that Purcey would continue to work as a reliever if he is sent to Triple-A Las Vegas to open the season, barring an injury to one of the Triple-A starters. As for Morrow, he resumed throwing on Wednesday and is scheduled to start on Monday. Carlson threw off a mound on Wednesday and came away fine, according to Gaston. Carlson is down to throw in a Minor League game on Friday.

BIRD FEED: Utility man, and bench candidate, Mike McCoy (right shoulder) took part in a Minor League game on Wednesday and went 2-for-5 with a stolen base and a run scored. Gaston said McCoy might be ready to play in a Grapefruit League game on Friday. “We want to see a little more of McCoy,” Gaston said. “We want to see him play a little more. He’s pretty valuable.” The Jays like McCoy’s on-base ability and speed, and the fact that he can play multiple infield and outfield spots. He appears to be a front-runner for a spot on the bench, ahead of outfielders Jeremy Reed and Joey Gathright. … Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion (left wrist) also took part in a Minor League game on Wednesday and went 0-for-5. Gaston did not offer a timetable for Encarnacion’s return to Grapefruit League action. … First baseman Lyle Overbay went 3-for-3 with a double and two RBIs in Wednesday’s 5-3 loss to the Rays. … Reed (.410 this spring) went 2-for-3 and Gathright (.206) went 0-for-3. … Accardo allowed one run on two hits over one inning, upping his spring ERA to 6.75. … Valdez and Purcey each logged one shutout inning apiece. … Eveland logged four innings, giving up four runs (two earned) on seven hits with two strikeouts and one walk.

THE SHORT END… Gaston wanted a few of his “A” players to make the road trips this week to Port Charlotte (Rays) and Fort Myers (Red Sox), giving the regular outfielders one of the trips and the infielders the other. To decide, Aaron Hill said he and Vernon Wells drew straws. Hill offered to let Wells pick, since he has seniority. Wells decided to stick with drawing straws… and he got the short one. “I said, ‘Port Charlotte!’” Hill said with a laugh. Fort Myers is a 2 hours, 45 minute trip, while Port Charlotte is about 2 hours. “Not my fault,” Hill said. “I gave him the choice!” Hill, Overbay, Gonzalez and third baseman Jose Bautista made the trip to face the Rays. It will likely be Wells, Travis Snider and Adam Lind making the venture to play the Red Sox on Friday.

ALSO: Stay tuned for results of today’s Dotcom Dash.

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

Game 17 lineups: Jays at Rays

TORONTO AT TAMPA BAY
at 1:05 p.m. ET in Port Charlotte

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgBLUE JAYS (9-7)
1. Jose Bautista, 3B
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Jeremy Reed, LF
4. Lyle Overbay, 1B
5. Chris Lubanski, RF
6. Alex Gonzalez, SS
7. Michael McDade, DH
8. Joey Gathright, CF
9. Raul Chavez, C

Pitching: Dana Eveland

Thumbnail image for Rays.jpgRAYS (13-7)
1. Jason Bartlett, SS
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. Ben Zobrist, 2B
4. Evan Longoria, DH
5. B.J. Upton, CF
6. Gabe Kapler, RF
7. Kelly Shoppach, C
8. Hank Blalock, 1B
9. Sean Rodriguez, 3B

Pitching: Jeff Niemann

UPDATE: Today’s Dotcom Dash featuring MLB.com’s Anthony Dicomo challenging me to a half-mile race has changed venues. We will now race at North Port High School’s track following the conclusion of today’s game. I am officially running for the Jays Care Foundation.

~JB

var OutbrainPermaLink=’http://mlblogsmlbastian.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/rays-thumb-140×140-12935113.jpgarchives/2010/03/game_1_lineups_tigers_at_blue.html’;
var OB_Template = “mlbblogs”;
var OB_demoMode = false;
var OBITm = “1241712535489″;
var OB_langJS =’http://widgets.outbrain.com/lang_en.js’;
if ( typeof(OB_Script)!=’undefined’ )
OutbrainStart();
else {
var OB_Script = true;
var str = ”;
document.write(str);
}

The Dotcom Dash

TheRace.jpg
It started innocently enough. MLB.com’s Anthony Dicomo (pictured on the left, showing off his fine running technique) and I (pictured on the right, holding strong at Mile 21 during the Chicago Marathon) began to debate who could beat who in a race.

I felt I could easily defeat Dicomo in any distance one miler or longer, considering I’m a four-time marathoner and a former high school cross country runner. Dicomo felt he could easily defeat me in any distance under one mile, considering he was apparently a sprinter for his high school track team back in the day.

“I’ll take you on in a one-mile race,” I offered.

“A quarter mile,” he countered.

“Half mile,” I compromised.

“Done,” he agreed.

And, with that, The Dotcom Dash was born. This was in the early stages of Spring Training. Now, here were are, it’s March 23, and the trash talk has heated up, especially if you’ve followed us on Twitter (@MLBastian and @AnthonyDicomo).Well, today, things came to a head.

We finally settled on a date, time and place: March 24, after we’re done working the Blue Jays-Rays Grapefruit League game, Port Charlotte High School. Here is an image from Google maps, showing where Dicomo will be eating my dust. Might want to keep your glasses on so it doesn’t get in your eyes, buddy.

Thumbnail image for Track.jpg
As if that wasn’t enough, our little race was written about on Hardball Talk on nbcsports.com and then, it got a bit more serious. The Drunk Jays Fans blog decided to back me and challenged a Mets or Yankees blogger (since Dicomo helps cover both clubs) to back him, putting some charity on the line.

A few minutes ago, I received this Tweet from the Jays Care Foundation:

JCFtweet.jpgNot that I needed any more motivation to beat Dicomo, but now it’s REALLY on, my friend. I do not plan on letting the children of Toronto down.

~JB

Notes from Game 16

Tallet4.jpgBrian Tallet’s overall numbers this spring have not been pretty. The Blue Jays lefty knows that as well as anyone, but he is quick to point out what any veteran pitcher should keep in mind.

Spring Training results don’t always show how well a player is performing. For pitchers, the goal during spring is to build up stamina and work on pitches. Sometimes that leads to distorted numbers on the scoreboard.

“We’re here to work on stuff and to get stuff ready for April 5,” Tallet said. “That’s what I’m working toward.”

Take Monday’s outing, for example. Tallet allowed five runs on eight hits over five innings, finishing with 76 pitches, one walk and one strikeouts. For the spring? He now has a 7.36 ERA (9 ER, 13 H, 11 IP).

Monday’s pitching line was crooked mainly due to a three-run homer that Tallet yielded to Detroit’s Brandon Inge in the first inning. It was a changeup that Tallet left up in the strike zone a bit too much. Inge did what any good hitter should, launching it out of the ballpark.

“You take that one away, it’s a whole different ballgame,” Tallet said. “It was one of those things. Through the first part of camp I’ve been bouncing so many changeups. I just told myself, ‘I’m not going to bounce them anymore. It’s not going to get any better by bouncing it.’ I’ve got to be able to get that pitch in the zone. So, I was working on getting it up a little bit and I just got that one up a little too much.”

What would Tallet have done during the regular season?

“I’d probably throw something else in that situation,” he said. “Or, bounce the changeup.”

As for that one walk? Tallet said, “When you’ve got to throw five strikes to a guy, that’s tough.” The ground balls that bounced into the outfield for hits? “A couple of them found holes, snuck by the third baseman.” That homer in the fourth by Ryan Rayburn? “He just kind of went out there and ambushed an early-count fastball. But it was just one pitch.”

One start ago, Tallet worked through four clean innings against the Orioles, focusing on his two-seam sinker and allowing no runs on one hit. The lefty said his fastball was fine on Monday against the Tigers, but he wanted to spend some time trying to correct the issues he’s had with the changeup.

What will he be working on in his final two spring starts?

“More than anything,” Tallet said, “it’s going to be getting with John [Buck] and getting with whoever the backup catcher is and starting to go over game plans. When we’re out there [right now], we’re not game-planning. I’m not watching any film. I’m just kind of out there working on pitching and working on throwing strikes.”

As things currently stand, Tallet is the favorite to land the fifth starter’s job to open the season. If you’re going by on-field results alone, there is an argument to be made that left Dana Eveland has out-performed Tallet this spring and deserves the job. There is also youngster Brett Cecil, who considered to be a bigger part of the Jays’ future.

Right now, though, there is no indication from the Jays that Tallet is at risk of losing his spot on the starting staff.

“If I don’t break as a starter,” Tallet said, “then that’s my fault, because I didn’t pitch as well.”


Marcum3.jpgHE’S NUMBER ONE:
Before Monday’s game, the Blue Jays officially announced that Shaun Marcum will be their new Opening Day starter. CLICK HERE for the full story on bluejays.com. We met with Marcum for a 12-minute Q&A and there was some good stuff left on the cutting-room floor.

Marcum found out on Monday morning, around 8:55 a.m. ET, shortly before the Blue Jays took the field for their pregame stretching. Marcum was approached at his locker by pitching coach Bruce Walton, who told the pitcher that manager Cito Gaston and general manager Alex Anthopoulos wanted to see him in Gaston’s office.

“Pappy came and told me to put my shower shoes on, we’re having a meeting,” Marcum said with a smile. “I was like, ‘Getting sent down already? I haven’t done anything wrong.’ No, it was a good meeting. Like I told them, I’m excited about it and I’m going to do whatever I can to help – I always say young guys, but I consider myself young, too –  I’ll do whatever I can to help the staff and move forward in the right direction.”

This came one day after Marcum was forced to work through an 81-pitch simulated game in Toronto’s indoor batting cage at Dunedin Stadium, which was hammered by rain all morning and afternoon on Sunday. Marcum laughed and quipped: “I guess that no-hitter I threw in the cage yesterday got me a spot on the team.”

What does being a leader mean to Marcum? “The main thing is I’m not a big rah-rah, cheerleading-type guy. But, you’ve got to have fun. You’ve got to keep loose. That’s one thing I learned coming up. Even from when I was nine to in college, it seemed like the guys that were a little uptight and pressed too much were the guys that struggled a little bit. I think that’s one thing I’m going to do, is try to keep everybody loose, have fun and go out there and take care of business.”

On communication among starters this year: “It’s going to be very important. Whether it’s talking on the bus or talking on the plane or even in the dugout, that’s one thing that I think we’re starting to do. Even in Spring Training games, I’ve seen a lot of Ricky [Romero] and Zep [Marc Rzepczynski] and Tallet just talking about certain pitch locations and pitch selections and hitters’ swings. I think that’s something that’s going to benefit all of us.”

Asked if being a No. 1 starter felt natural: “I wouldn’t call it natural. I’ve always just been, go out there and do what I can. I’ve never been an overpowering guy where eveybbody just looks at you and they’re like, ‘Oh, he’s a No. 1 starter,’ or anything. To me, it’s just the guy that’s taking the ball on Day 1 and pitching every fifth game. Other than that, I’m just going to do what I can, keep our team in the ballgame, grind it out and try to be a bulldog.”

———————————————————————————-

STAT OF THE DAY

CAREER MAJOR LEAGUE STARTS

1. Shaun Marcum: 64
2. Brian Tallet: 31
3. Ricky Romero: 29
4. Brandon Morrow: 15
5. Marc Rzepczynski: 11

MAJOR LEAGUE STARTS IN 2009

1. Ricky Romero: 29
2. Brian Tallet: 25
3. Marc Rzepczynski: 11
4. Brandon Morrow: 10
5. Shaun Marcum: 0

———————————————————————————-

BIRD FEED: LHP Jesse Carlson (left knee) threw off a mound in the bullpen for around 10 minutes on Monday and came away feeling good. Carlson will take a day off on Tuesday and get back on the hill Wednesday. With two weeks left in spring, the Jays are not ruling him out for Opening Day. … 3B Edwin Encarnacion (left wrist) and UTIL Mike McCoy (right shoulder) took part in a Triple-A game on Monday. “Reports back were all good,” said Gaston, who then chuckled. “I actually asked [head trainer George] Poulis if they got any hits, but he couldn’t tell me. He didn’t care about that. He just wanted to know if they were healthy. He said they were healthy.” For what it’s worth, Encarnacion went 1-for-5 and McCoy went 1-for-4. Gaston said both will play in another Minors game on Wednesday. Neither have been ruled out for Opening Day. … Relievers Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and David Purcey each logged one shutout inning in the Triple-A game on Monday. RHP Shawn Camp also appeared in the game and allowed one run on two hits with one walk over one inning. … Eveland will start and is scheduled to log five innings on Wednesday against the Rays in Port Charlotte. The start was originally reserved for RHP Brandon Morrow (right shoulder). … Morrow will resume throwing on Wednesday, throw a bullpen Friday and then start on Monday, if there are no setbacks. Even though he is only scheduled for three innings in Monday’s outing, the Jays believe there is enough time for him to be ready for Opening Day. “If he feels good, he’s got a chance,” Gaston said. “He’s got a chance, yeah. But if doesn’t feel good, he probably won’t make it. He won’t make Opening Day.” … 1B/DH Randy Ruiz launched a mammoth two-run homer in the second inning of Monday’s game. He did what looked like a Sammy Sosa-style hop out of the batter’s box, before dropping the bat and trotting around the bases. “Nah,” Ruiz said with a smile. “I just didn’t know if it was going to hook foul or not.” Well, in that case, it was more of a Carlton Fisk-type hop.

UNDER THE RADAR: Anyone notice the spring RHP Casey Janssen is having? He logged another shutout inning for the Jays on Monday. That’s four games, four innings, no runs, one hit, one walk, three strikeouts. He has quietly become almost an assumed part of the Opening Day bullpen: Gregg, Frasor, Downs, Camp, Janssen and Carlson (if healthy) project to make the team right now. It’s that seventh spot (Jeremy Accardo? David Purcey? Merkin Valdez? Josh Roenicke? Eveland?) that is the bigger question mark right now. So much attention has been placed on the starting rotation, but the bullpen has really been the more interesting battle this spring.

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

Game 16 lineups: Tigers at Jays

DETROIT AT TORONTO
at 1:05 p.m. ET in Dunedin


Tigers.gifTIGERS (10-8)
1. Austin Jackson, CF
2. Scott Sizemore, 2B
3. Magglio Ordonez, RF
4. Brandon Inge, 3B
5. Carlos Guillen, DH
6. Ryan Raburn, 1B
7. Gerald Laird, C
8. Wilkin Ramirez, LF
9. Ramon Santiago, SS

Pitching: Nate Robertson

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgBLUE JAYS (9-6)
1. Jose Bautista, 3B
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, LF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
6. John Buck, C
7. Randy Ruiz, DH
8. Travis Snider, RF
9. Alex Gonzalez, SS

Pitching: Brian Tallet

~JB

var OutbrainPermaLink=’http://mlblogsmlbastian.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/bluejays-thumb-150×131-101393115.jpgarchives/2010/03/game_12_lineups_jays_at_os.html’;
var OB_Template = “mlbblogs”;
var OB_demoMode = false;
var OBITm = “1241712535489″;
var OB_langJS =’http://widgets.outbrain.com/lang_en.js’;
if ( typeof(OB_Script)!=’undefined’ )
OutbrainStart();
else {
var OB_Script = true;
var str = ”;
document.write(str);
}

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.