March 2010

Notes from Game 10

Thumbnail image for Frasor.jpgA few years ago, Jason Frasor might not have shown such a sense of humor about the outing he had on Sunday. Frasor is a bit older, though, and far more confident than he was in the past.

In one-third of an inning against the Braves, Frasor allowed four runs on four hits with two walks and one home run surrendered. This from a guy who has been linked to the Cubs and Twins in recent trade rumors.

“I don’t know if that trade’s going to happen now with what they saw today,” Frasor quipped.

So, what happened?

“I felt good. I feel good,” Frasor said. “My changeup was terrible. Fastball was good. Once I got in trouble, I just did some things that wasn’t me. I just kept going to the offspeed.

“It wasn’t there, but I kept forcing it instead of, ‘Why not try a fastball down and away?’ I just didn’t do it and you saw what happened. I just kept trying to find it and find it and find it and it just didn’t come.”

Maybe the Braves just have his number. On May 24 last season, Frasor allowed four runs in two-third of an inning on the road against Atlanta.

“A touchdown and a two point conversion,” Frasor joked.

The fact of the matter is this is Spring Training and one bad outing won’t hurt Frasor’s chances of making the team. He is a lock for the bullpen and could see some time in the ninth inning this season, along with Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg. Frasor said sometimes it’s good to get one bad outing out of the way in the preseason.

“B.J. Ryan used to say it kind of gets that bad taste out of your mouth,” Frasor explained. “He used to think it was good to — not to consistently give up runs — but maybe have them run around the bases a few times one time and get that bad taste out of your mouth.”

Then again…

“It’s still miserable, even though it really doesn’t count,” he said. “I’m glad it doesn’t count.”

SHORTSTOP OF THE FUTURE? The Blue Jays are reportedly nearing a deal believed to be worth $10 million over four years with Cuban shortstop Adeinis Hechavarria. Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos would neither confirm or deny the reports, saying, “I really don’t want to comment. I don’t want to lie.”

Anthopoulos was asked why it seems as though Latin American players are increasingly having interest in Toronto these days. The GM has been tied to other Cuban players over the past few months and he also was able to quickly sign shortstop Alex Gonzalez over the offseason.

“Especially when it comes to free agents, whether they’re Latin American or big league free agents,” Anthopoulos said, “opportunity is a big component of it. I think anybody you look to sign, they’re going to look to the landscape and see who’s competing in front of them and so on and where the opportunity can lie to get to the big leagues as fast as they can.

“I think that’s certainly a part of it. That being said, the feedback we’ve got from a lot of the Latin players, they love the city. They love Toronto. Alex Gonzalez is a great example. He just liked the cosmopolitan city that Toronto is and he thinks it’s a great place to play. A lot of our players feel the same way.”

Heading back to the first part of Anthopoulos’ answer, Toronto only has short-term solutions at short. Hechavarria would have a chance to rise quickly through the system to the big leagues in a bid to be the Jays’ answer over the long-term. The Jays’ main competition for Hechavarria appeared to be the Yankees, but he reportedly decided against signing with New York since it’s expected that the Bombers will sign Derek Jeter to an extension after this season.

BIRD FEED: RHP Dustin McGowan threw a two-inning sim game on Sunday morning, working through 44 pitches. Next up will be a Minor League outing, tentatively planned for Friday. McGowan is still not throwing bullpen sessions between starts. It seems increasinly likely that he will open the year on the disabled list. … RHP Brandon Morrow allowed four runs on six hits in three innings in a start against the Braves on Sunday. He struck out five and walked two. … Toronto has a “B” game at 10 a.m. on Monday at Dunedin Stadium, free to attend for fans. The Jays’ “A” lineup will stay home for that game. The “A” pitchers will hit the road for the game against the Tigers in Lakeland. … Pitching in Lakeland will be Marc Rzepczynski, Brett Cecil, Casey Janssen and Jeremy Accardo. … RHP Shaun Marcum will pitch in a Triple-A game at 1 pm on Tuesday at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. This keeps him on a scheduled that lines up for the Opening Day start. … 3B Edwin Encarnacion remained out of the lineup on Sunday and there is still no timetable for his return to game action. … Relievers Willie Collazo, Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, Shawn Camp, Josh Roenicke and Rommie Lewis combined for 5 2/3 shutout innings on Sunday. … 1B/DH Randy Ruiz belted his second homer of the spring on Sunday, sending a pitch to center field, bouncing off the black backdrop above the wall. Ruiz is hitting .500 this spring. … DH/LF Adam Lind added a two-run trible. Look for a feature on Lind on bluejays.com later today. … Leadoff man Jose Bautista went 2-for-3 to raise his spring average to .647. … LF Travis Snider went 0-for-3 with one strikeout.

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LIST OF THE DAY

Recent Opening Day Shortstops

2010: Alex Gonzalez
2009: Marco Scutaro
2008: David Eckstein
2007: Royce Clayton
2006: Russ Adams
2005: Russ Adams
2004: Chris Woodward
2003: Chris Woodward
2002: Felipe Lopez
2001: Alex S. Gonzalez

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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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Jays to sign Hechavarria?

Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos’ search for a long-term solution at shortstop may be nearing an end. On Sunday, a report indicated that Toronto was nearing a deal worth $10 million to sign Cuban shortstop Adeinis Hechavarria.

Citing an industry source, the New York Post reported that the 21-year-old Hechavarria has decided against signing with the Yankees, who are expected to sign Derek Jeter to an extension after this season. The reported deal would exceed the $8 million handed to Red Sox prospect Jose Iglesias.

Since assuming the role of GM for the Jays at the end of last season, Anthopoulos has stressed the importance of international scouting. Earlier this spring, the rookie GM made a trip to the Dominican Republic, where it is believed that he spent time scouting players from Cuba.

After returning from the D.R., Anthopoulos would not confirm or deny interest in any Cuban players. The general manager has stuck to a policy of not commenting on negotiations or reports until moves are made official by the Blue Jays.

Hechavarria, who is considered to be a better offensive prospect than Iglesias, has been described as a 6-foot-1, 170-pound shortstop, resembling a young Alfonso Soriano. The Yankees reportedly believed Hechavarria could have made a switch to second base, but it appears he is intent on trying to reach the Majors as a shortstop.

~JB

Game 10 lineups: Braves at Jays

ATLANTA AT TORONTO
at 1:05 p.m. ET in Dundedin


Thumbnail image for Braves.jpg
BRAVES (6-4)
1. Melky Cabrera, CF
2. Martin Prado, 2B
3. Jason Heyward, RF
4. Yunel Escobar, SS
5. Matt Diaz, C
6. Freddie Freeman, 1B
7. Cody Johnson, DH
8. David Ross, C
9. Joe Thurston, 3B

Pitching: Kris Medlen

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

Pitching: Brandon Morrow

~JB

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Note from Game… well, just notes

74069267.jpgThis is what it looked like here at Dunedin Stadium at about 8:45 am. For a little while, from about 11:30 to 12:30, the pounding rain subsided and it actually felt like there might be some baseball played here today.

Then it poured some more.

Finally, the Blue Jays and Astros caved and canceled today’s tilt, making that seven washouts today around Florida. Brian Tallet was scheduled to pitch for the Blue Jays, but he instead did a three-inning simulated game indoors. There will be another sim game for some relievers on Saturday in Dunedin as well.

Not much in the way of news today. Kyle Drabek and David Cooper were reassigned to Minor League camp and Casey Fien and Brad Mills were optioned to Triple-A. Adam Lind WAS scheduled to start in left field, but then he wasn’t, and then the game was scrapped altogether.

With left field in mind, we did ask manager Cito Gaston some about Snider and the backup bench jobs that are up in the air. Joey Gathright, Jeremy Reed and Mike McCoy are all leading the pack for bench roles, but so much depends on if Snider breaks camp with the big club.

If Snider is at Triple-A to open the year, that means two of Gathright, Reed and McCoy could make the Jays. If Snider is Toronto’s left fielder, then only one of that trio is likely to make the cut. There are four bench jobs, with one going to John McDonald and another to the backup catcher (Raul Chavez or Jose Molina).

That would leave two vacancies for Gathright, Reed, McCoy, Randy Ruiz and Brian Dopirak to fight over, and any others who might be quietly in the mix. It’s been made pretty clear that Ruiz and Dopirak are basically competing against each other within the bench race.

As for Snider?

“Snider’s got a chance to make this club,” Gaston said. “And, as of lately, his at-bats have gotten better. We want him to
make this club, because you’ve got to go and look at the long-term future of this club. Is it more with
Gathright, or is it more with Snider? You want Snider to make this club, but you want him to make it in
the right way. We’re not just going to give it to him.

“Every day that he improves is just going to be a plus for
him and for us and the organization, because you’ve got Snider and you’ve got Lind and [Aaron] Hill and Vernon [Wells], and
then you’ve got JP [Arencibia] coming, too. You’re starting to have some pretty good bats coming.”

BIRD FEED: 3B Edwin Encarnacion said his left wrist is feeling better and he expects to be worked into games soon. Gaston said there is still no timetable for his return. … RHP Dustin McGowan will throw a sim game on Sunday. … Since they didn’t pitch on Friday, Jeremy Accardo, Casey Janssen, Zach Jackson, Zech Zinicola and Merkin Valdez will work in a sim game at Dunedin Stadium on Saturday. … LHP Ricky Romero is scheduled to start on the road against the Braves on Saturday and is down to log four innings. Other pitchers listed on the trip: Dana Eveland, Sean Henn, Ray Gonzalez, Rommie Lewis, Willie Collazo. Notable position players going to Disney World for the game: Arencibia, Chavez, Molina, Dopirak, McCoy, Ruiz, Brett Wallace, Gathright, Reed, Snider.

 

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Opening Day Predictions: Part 3

I am off on Saturday, so this week’s predictions come a day early. Every weekend from now until the end of camp, I plan on including my current predictions for the Opening Day roster. After eight games, this 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, Travis Snider, Vernon Wells, Jose Bautista, John McDonald, Mike McCoy, Randy Ruiz.

CHANGES: Jeremy Reed removed. Joey Gathright removed Travis Snider added. Mike McCoy added.

REASONING: Gaston’s comments today about Snider put him firmly back on the radar and are encouraging in the “Let the kids play” sense. If this is about building or rebuilding or whatever you want to call it, why not let Snider head north? I added McCoy because he has been impressing in a big way. He brings speed like Gathright, but he can also man at least six spots (three infield, three outfield), where Gathright is limited to the outfield. Reed has performed well so far, but I don’t see him on the team if Snider makes the cut.

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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

Game 9 lineups: Astros at Jays

HOUSTON AT TORONTO
at 1:05 p.m. ET in Dundedin

Astros.jpgASTROS (3-4)
1. Jason Bourgeois, DH
2. Cory Sullivan, CF
3. Hunter Pence, RF
4. Geoff Blum, 1B
5. Pedro Feliz, 3B
6. Jason Michaels, LF
7. Jason Castro, C
8. Edwin Maysonet, SS
9. Oswaldo Navarro, 2B

Pitching: Brian Moehler

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgBLUE JAYS (5-3)
1. Jose Bautista, 3B
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Jorge Padilla, RF
4. Lyle Overbay, 1B
5. Randy Ruiz, DH
6. Chris Lubanski, LF
7. John Buck, C
8. Alex Gonzalez, SS
9. Joey Gathrigth, CF

Pitching: Brian Tallet

~JB

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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Game 8 lineups: Jays at Rays

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

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgBLUE JAYS (5-2)
1. Joey Gathright, CF
2. Jarrett Hoffpauir, 3B
3. Brett Wallace, DH
4. Randy Ruiz, 1B
5. Chris Lubanski, LF
6. Jorge Padilla, RF
7. Brad Emaus, 2B
8. John McDonald, SS
9. Jose Molina, C

Pitching: Shaun Marcum


Thumbnail image for Rays.jpg
RAYS (7-1)
1. Jason Bartlett, SS
2. Ben Zobrist, 2B
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Willy Aybar, DH
6. Gabe Kapler, RF
7. John Jaso, C
8. JJ Furmaniak, LF
9. Fernando Perez, CF

Pitching: Andy Sonnanstine

~JB

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Notes from Game 7 and B game

Morrow5.jpg

There was initially some concern when right-hander Brandon Morrow exited his start in a “B” game against the Phillies in Clearwater. He had only thrown two innings and fired off 32 pitches. The schedule sheet inside the Jays clubhouse indicated he was down to throw three frames.

Then, Marc Rzepczynski went three innings with 49 pitches. After that? Brett Cecil made his spring debut and needed 46 pitches for two innings. After years of watching pitcher after pitcher go down with injury for the Jays, it seemed that the only explanation for Morrow’s short outing was that he was hurt.

Nope. He’s fine.

“We’re changing up the scheduling a little bit,” Morrow explained. “I’m going to throw three on Sunday. So, three days off and then throw.”

The Blue Jays are in the midst of setting their rotation for the regular season. That is why Morrow will be pitching on short rest next time out. Don’t look now, but if you count backwards from Opening Day, Shaun Marcum would get the nod for the first start of the regular season.

It says here that the planned rotation right now is Marcum, Ricky Romero, Morrow, Marc Rzepczynski and Brian Tallet. The only way I see that changing is if Dustin McGowan proves he’s healthy and ready. In that scenario, Tallet could wind up back in the bullpen. I still think it’s more realistic that McGowan opens the year on the disabled list.

I asked manager Cito Gaston if it was too soon to say if any pitchers were separating themselves from others in this competition. His reply?

“I think it’s too early,” Gaston said. “We’ve kind of got our mind on who’s going to be in that rotation right now. There’s so many guys you can stretch out and so many guys you can’t. We kind of have an idea, unless something changes, something happens, somebody gets hurt and you have to move somebody else in there. But, we’re kind of prepared for that, too.”

The reality is that lefty Brett Cecil, with his left thumb setback, is behind the other pitchers now and would likely have to really out-pitch them down the stretch to make the Opening Day staff. Lefty David Purcey has not been particularly sharp in his spring outings so far, with a 9.00 ERA in two short appearances. Lefty Dana Eveland has looked good, so there’s always the chance he remains quietly in the mix as a darkhorse candidate.

Morrow6.jpgBut, back to Morrow…

He logged two innings and allowed no runs on three hits. Really, it should’ve been two hits. One in the first inning clearly looked like an error on the second baseman, but it got the hometeam discount and was ruled an infield single. Morrow also struck out two and continued to work on his changeup.

“It’s something that I didn’t really throw much out of the bullpen,” Morrow said. “With guys really gearing up for my fastball, that’s always how it’s been, I think my ability to throw that for a strike is going to be probably the biggest key for me, definitely. If I’m throwing that in 2-0, 2-1 counts, that makes a world of difference. It’s really been night and day, those days that I’ve been able to go out there and throw changeups for strikes”

Morrow also saw seven left-handed hitters among the eight he faced. Considering the wealth of left-handed pop in the American League East, Morrow did not mind getting in some extra work with lefties at the plate.

“They’re always going to try to stack the lineup left-handed against a right-handed power pitcher,” he said. “Every team [in the East] has got the left-handed power hitters and that’s good practice to be throwing your changes. … In the past, I’ve had trouble kind of with that guy in the batter’s box, kind of leaking your body towards him.

“With a right-hander I’m able to stay closed a little bit. It’s always nice to see those guys in there to work on what you need to work on.”

THE REAL… As promised, Gaston gave Mike McCoy some playing time in the outfield, putting him in center field after Vernon Wells exited on Wednesday in the A game in Dunedin. McCoy can play second, short and third and can also man all three outfield spots. With his speed, too, the Jays are giving him a good look for a bench role.

“I had never seen him play,” Gaston said. “He played for Cuz, Nick Leyva, down in Mexico last year and Nick kind of recommended this kid and told me he could play out there. So, we want to see if he can play out there. He plays all three. We know he can play all three positions in the infield and plus here’s a kid that stole 40 bases. So he’s done a good job already in Spring Training.”

TRAVEL SQUAD: Making the trip to Port Charlotte on Thursday (and hoping it doesn’t rain) are: Shawn Camp, Willie Collazo, Ray Gonzalez, Rommie Lewis, Shaun Marcum, Brad Mills, Steven Register, Casey Fien, JP Arencibia, Jose Molina, Kyle Phillips, David Cooper, Brad Emaus, Jarrett Hoffpauir, Mike McCoy, John McDonald, Jesus Merchan, Randy Ruiz, Brett Wallace, Joey Gathright, Chris Lubanski, Jorge Padilla. Marcum and Mills are each down to throw three innings.

BIRD FEED: Lefty Brett Cecil made his spring debut in the “B” game, but was limited to throwing fastballs and changeups. The Jays did not want him throwing curves or sliders, hoping to prevent risking having him open the cut on his left thumb. In two innings, Cecil allowed three runs (all on a homer) on four hits with four strikeouts and one walk. … In his three-inning showing in the “B” game, Rzepczynski allowed one run on two hits with five strikeouts and one hit batsmen. After throwing 30 pitches (18 strikes) in his first inning of work, Zep threw 19 (16) the rest of the way. … In the “A” game against the Phillies, leadoff man extraordinaire Jose Bautista went 2-for-3 with his third homer of the spring. … Kyle Drabek got the start against the Phillies and logged two shutout innings. See bluejays.com for more on his outing against his former team. … Closing candidates Jason Frasor, Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg each logged an inning. Only Gregg (1 run, three hits) have up a run.

GOING DEEP: In the ninth inning at Dunedin Stadium, Cody Ransom belted a long homer off Jays lefty David Purcey. It was announced as Ransom’s first homer of the spring. But, wait! It was Ransom who took Cecil yard for a three-run bomb earlier in the day in the “B” game. That blast? We didn’t see it land. Pretty sure it cleared Frenchy’s, which sits beyond the left-field bleachers at Bright House Field.


Wallace4.jpgGOING HOME:
The lone run that Rzepczynski allowed came during a bases-loaded jam in his first inning. With no outs, Zep induced a grounder to first base prospect Brett Wallace, who quickly fired to the shortstop to hopefully turn a double play. With Dwayne Wise running to first, though, turning two wasn’t going to happen. In hindsight, Wallace should have thrown home to halt the run, and he had plenty of time. As it happened, Zep struck out the next two batters to escape without any more damage.

“The play was probably home,” Gaston said. “There’s a kid over there playing. Wallace, he’s over there. He was told later, I think the play is at home. You don’t have a chance for a double play. That’s just not knowing. He doesn’t know Wise. He hasn’t played against Wise. Somebody like [Lyle] Overbay knows Wise and knows you’re not going to get a double play with Wise.”

Wallace was acquired in the Roy Halladay deal in December and was moved to first base after playing third as a pro. Gaston said that the play in question had more to do with Wallace’s knowledge of the runners than with his experience at the position, though.

QUOTABLE: “I wish I had a gun on him. He was probably throwing harder than I’ve ever seen him. When he does that, he’s in trouble. He got the ball down and he got back to the old Rzepczynski, as far as I’m concerned.” — Gaston, on Zep’s “B” Game outing

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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Game 7 lineups: Phillies at Jays

Lineups are a little late because I was at the “B” game in Clearwater, where Brandon Morrow, Marc Rzepczynski and Brett Cecil pitched this morning. Check back here later for more.

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

Thumbnail image for phillies.gifPHILLIESS (2-3)
1. Jimmy Rollins, SS
2. Shane Victorino, CF
3. Placido Polanco, 2B
4. Raul Ibanez, LF
5. Jayson Werth, RF
6. Greg Dobbs, 1B
7. John Mayberry Jr., DH
8. Wilson Valdez, 2B
9. Carlos Ruiz, C

Pitching: Cole Hamels

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

Pitching: Kyle Drabek

MOVES: Prior to the game, the Blue Jays reassigned OF Adam Loewen and C Brian Jeroloman to Minor League camp and optioned LHP Luis Perez and RHP Robert Ray to Triple-A Las Vegas.

~JB

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Anthopoulos discusses McGowan

Blue Jays right-hander Dustin McGowan threw a two-inning simulated game this morning at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. McGowan threw 30 pitches, including sliders for the first time since his shoulder surgery in July 2008. The questions are short approximations of what was asked, but here is what general manager Alex Anthopoulos had to say during a Q&A with reporters after the promising session.


McGowan4.jpgHow did McGowan look?

“McGowan looked great. I thought he looked really good — free and easy, good command. His slider looked really sharp. He just looked very, very good. The big test now is how does he feel the following day and the day after that. Does the soreness continue to go away? It’s one of those things that, when he does throw, the stuff looks sharp, everything looks good. It’ll just be a question of how he bounces back.”

If he bounces back fine, what is next?

“Right now, the plan would be, assuming that everything is going according to plan, he would throw one more simulated game and then hopefully throw in a big league game some time by the middle of March.”

Is there any way he could start season with the Jays?

“We’ve talked about it and it’s too early to tell. There is a scenario that he could. We’re just not sure yet. That’s why we really need to take it each outing at a time and continue to evaluate. We’re not sure what the role would be. If he continues to well and to progress well, potentially he could work his way to being a starter for us. But again, we’ll have to see how he does and how deep he can get into games.”

Is starting him on the DL a realistic scenario?

“If he’s not right and he’s not 100 percent ready to go, we’ve even told him that. The Opening Day date is not something that we’ve targeted specifically. It’s more of when his arm is ready to go. So that’s certainly a scenario. If we need to start him on the DL, we would do that and continue to rehab him down here and hopefully he’d be back here sooner rather than later.”

Placing him on the DL seems to help since he’s out of options…

“The only reason we would do that is because the health doesn’t allow him to pitch for us. It’s not because he’s out of options. It’s because he’s not healthy to pitch in a big league game. Just from what you see today, that stuff and the way he looks, certainly if he can go every five days, there’s no question he would be on the roster one way or the other. So, ability-wise, it’s not a question. It’s just will his arm allow him to do it and to take the ball?”

Would starting or relieving be better for his arm?

We’ve talked about that and it’s a matter of getting him enough rest and that’s why we think starting is the right way to go, allowing just that soreness to go away. It’s one of those things that right now we think starting is the best cource of action for him from a health standpoint.

You could buy more time since a fifth starter isn’t needed until the season’s second series…

“We certainly could. … We really don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. This is a great first step. If he continues to feel good, we’ll do one more of these. Hopefully he continues to feel good after that. Then hopefully we can get him into a game. But again, that’s still two more steps before we even get to that stage.”

Is he on a set five-day schedule right now?

“If there’s days where he needs a day more, we’ll do something like that. It’s not really set in stone. If we need a day or two more, we certainly will. It’s all about doing this the right way. We’re not in a rush. We don’t look at Opening Day as the day we’re trying to get him ready for. It’s when his arm is ready and what’s right for him for the long term.”

But you can’t rule out Opening Day…

“No, I don’t think we can. We certainly can’t. We’ll continue to see how he does and there’s going to come a point in time on the calendar, as we get later into March, where it won’t make sense if he’s not as far along as we hope he is. But, right now, you can’t rule that out. It’s too early to rule that out.”

How encouraged have you been with McGowan’s progress?

“We’re very encouraged. He’s come leaps and bounds from where he was last summer. In fact, he’s been throwing off a mound, throwing sides, obviously now progressing to the point where he’s throwing a two-inning sim game. That’s just a great step for him. And just the way that the ball is coming out of his hand, the way his stuff looks, he’s throwing strikes. He looks very good.”

Why simulated games before Grapefruit League games?

“It’s part of, you look at any time you’re rehabbing someone, you always do it that way just for those reasons, if he runs deep counts, just it’s a controlled environment. That’s the reason that you do it. That’s why you have two of them. And if he goes through those without any problems, then you get him into a game. There’s no question you do it as a starting point because it’s a controlled environment, if anything does come up, if there’s any issues with his health or his arm or anything like that. It’s a controlled environment. You can control the circumstances.”

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To read more on McGowan’s outing, CLICK HERE. Also, CLICK HERE for a feature I put together today on Blue Jays first baseman Brian Dopirak, who is competing for a spot on the Opening Day roster.

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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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