Good news on the Vernon Wells front. Jays skip Cito Gaston said Wells is scheduled to make his first Grapefruit League appearance of the spring as a designated hitter on Friday in Dunedin. Wells is coming back from a strained left hammy, suffered Feb. 23.
Gaston said Wells will play center field for maybe three innings on Saturday, will be off on Sunday and then will DH again on Monday. The hope is that Wells will be fine to play center by Opening Day. He played in a Minors game again on Thursday with no issues.
Gaston said Scott Rolen (stiff back) is scheduled to take some batting practice tomorrow and he should be OK in a day or two to play. As for Travis Snider (left knee), Gaston said he’s going to be given a few days off, but the injury isn’t considered serious.
Rod Barajas and Alex Rios, both back from the World Baseball Classic, will be in the lineup tomorrow in Dunedin as well. Gaston also said that Scott Downs looked good in his Minor League appearance on Wednesday. Downs is skedded to pitch one inning on Saturday in his first Grapefruit League game.
Joe Inglett, RF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Jason Lane, CF
Jose Bautista, LF
Scott Campbell, 3B
Raul Chavez, C
John McDonald, SS
Casey Janssen, P
Jorge Posada, C
Johnny Damon, LF
Nick Swisher, 1B
Hideki Matsui, DH
Xavier Nady, RF
Cody Ransom, 3B
Melky Cabrera, CF
Angel Berroa, 2B
Ramiro Pena, SS
A.J. Burnett, P
Stopped by Dunedin Stadium this morning for batting practice. The Jays hold BP at home on days they play the Phillies in nearby Clearwater. And glad I did roll over there, because one of the best moments of the spring occurred.
Roy Halladay headed over to the snack cart and reached into the bucket of gum to grab a few pieces. As he walked away, Doc accidentally dumped the entire bucket and its hundreds of Double Bubble pieces all over the ground. Without as much as a flinch, Doc kept walking and left the mess in front of the clubhouse exit.
Not 10 seconds later, rook Travis Snider heads over and gets on hands and knees and begins picking up all the gum, completely knowing his role. As he was reaching under the cart to retrieve every last piece, Doc walked by and had the biggest grin you’ve ever seen the guy have.
“You’re all over it, Snider,” Halladay said with a laugh as he headed out to the field.
“It’s a good start to the day,” said Snider to the group of us reporters standing there enjoying the whole scene. “I got Doc on my side.”
Rod Barajas is back in camp after Mexico was bounced from the World Baseball Classic. Alex Rios should be around tomorrow or the next day now that Puerto Rico is out as well. USA! USA! USA!
Barajas had great things to say about the tournament and also about youngster Brad Mills. When asked if he was surprised to see Mill sill in camp, Barajas offered this:
“Absolutely not. I caught his first bullpen on accident. I’m looking through the line of pitchers and I’m trying to find the guys that I think are going to be challenging fo that spot and I hadn’t heard Mills’ name yet. But everybody had somebody else and I saw him and I’m like, ‘All right, I’ll take this little lefty.’ I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t expecting that out of him. So, the next time he threw a bullpen, I wanted to catch him again and his stuff was right there. It was unbelievable.”
Scott Downs threw in a Minor League intrasquad game today and center fielder Vernon Wells got some more ABs in that game as well. Wells is hoping to get into a Grapefruit League game this weekend. Said Cito: “Hopefully, we can start the season with him in center field. That’d be great.”
Don’t forget, you can follow my in-game updates at www.twitter.com/mlbastian
Russ Adams, LF
Jose Bautista, SS
Jason Lane, CF
Kevin Millar, 1B
Scott Rolen, 3B
Travis Snider, RF
Michael Barrett, C
Brad Emaus, 2B
Jesse Litsch, P
Chase Utley, 2B
Miguel Cairo, SS
Greg Dobbs, RF
Jayson Werth, CF
Matt Stairs, LF
Pedro Feliz, 3B
Chris Coste, 1B
Ronny Paulino, C
J.A. Happ, P
Some items from the Mattick today:
–Vernon Wells spoke with us scribes and said he’s hoping to be back in a couple weeks. He doesn’t feel the injury is as bad as last year and feels that his experience a year ago can help him rebound quicker. He and Gaston make it sound like this hammy is always going to be a risk from now on.
–Mike Maroth threw off the mound in a bullpen session and felt good before and after. So that surgery he needs? A no go for now.
–Ryan talked with me today some about last season and how great it’s been to not have to worry about getting healthy right now. He called his performance at times last year “ugly” and said he was pretty much pitching without a slider all season long. Early reports from pitching coach Brad Arnsberg are that Bo’s slider is “tight”, his command is good and he’s stronger than he was last year. Great news for Toronto.
–Cito’s tentative lineup for Wednesday’s opener: Joe Inglett, 3B, Aaron Hill, 2B, Alex Rios, RF, Kevin Millar, 1B, Adam Lind, DH, Rod Barajas, C, Travis Snider, LF, Buck Coats, CF, John McDonald, SS. Pitching: Brett Cecil, Ricky Romero, B.J. Ryan, Brian Burres, Rick Bauer. … Coming for the Yankees: Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and [drumroll] Alex Rodriguez. On the mound for the Bombers: Brett Tomko, Kei Igawa and some other dudes.
–Cito said today that he plans on getting Adam Loewen plenty of playing time this spring: “I want him to play quite a bit. He’s a kid that looks good swinging. I spoke to him this year and told him that I was going to try to play him as much as i can. I’ve got him down mostly outfield. He needs some at-bats to get back to seeing the ball and swinging the bat.”
–Gaston doesn’t have a specific number of ABs in mind, but said Jose Bautista is very much in the plans this season. Said he wants to get him action in the outfield, at third and first base, as the DH and even at short. Gaston also doesn’t mind that Bautista is playing in the WBC with the D.R., even though he figured to get more ABs and innings with Wells out.
–Scott Richmond is skedded to start Thursday and Matt Clement on Friday. Brad Mills is slated to follow Clement, while Ken Takahashi is down to follow Richmond.
OPINION TIME: With the recent news about Wells, and after watching Rios man center field for two prolonged stretches last season, I’m thinking a change in the outfield alignment might be in order soon. If Wells’ injury is indeed going to be a constant risk, he might benefit from moving to left, or at least seeing more time as the DH. I absolutely loved Rios in center and Snider has been billed more as a right fielder than a left fielder. So, for the long run, would it not make sense to put Wells in left, Rios in center and Snider in right? The Jays have invested a lot of money in Wells and Rios and, along with Snider, these three outfielders are a major part of the organizations future. Just saying
Here is a slew of photos that I took while checking out the Blue Jays’ first official workout for pitchers and catchers on Monday. I don’t have the photo gallery option I had with the previous blog format from past seasons, so I’ll just drop ’em in the post here. Enjoy. ~JB
Here’s manager Cito Gaston holding court with members of the Toronto media
Scott Richmond and Jeremy Accardo during early-morning stretching
Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg
Vernon Wells, Alex Rios and Aaron Hill (From left) head in after BP
Outfielder Adam Lind playing catch
Shaun Marcum plays catch with a team trainer
Matt Clement throws during a bullpen session
Scott Richmond in his windup during a bullpen session
Jeremy Accardo throws a pitch during a bullpen session
Ace Roy Halladay throwing during a bullpen session
GM J.P. Ricciardi watching pitchers with manager Cito Gaston
Closer B.J. Ryan prepares a throw during a bullpen session
Brian Tallet winds up during a bullpen session
GM J.P. Ricciardi and hitting coach Gene Tenace watch the pitchers
Japan’s Ken Takahashi holds court with the Japanese press
Pitching coach Brad Arnsberg talking shop with pitcher Matt Clement
That’s from one of the schedule sheets hanging inside the entrance to the Jays’ clubhouse here. The pitchers all have a meeting at 9 a.m. this morning and they need to report to the “Classroom room.”
A couple sheets over was the schedule for today’s first official workout, and plenty of pitchers were heading over to check out what stations they needed to go to first and which groups they’ve been place in. There are four groups for bullpen sessions, and some of the names are in bold and some aren’t, leading to some confusion.
“Those are the guys who already made the team,” quipped T.J. Beam.
Dirk Hayhurst — who enjoys chatting with us scribes and is a soon-to-be published writer himself — walked over and tossed in a self-deprecating jab: “Am I even on the list? Or did I get cut already?” This from the guy who was released last week and then subsquently re-signed.
Some new position player arrivals today include Alex Rios (sans mohawk), Vernon Wells and Mighty Joe Inglett. We chatted with John McDonald and Rios a bit about life as new fathers, and neither got much sleep over the offseason. Rios, whose daughter is seven months old, was asked if he mastered the art of diaper changing.
“No,” he said with a laugh. “I actually haven’t changed one yet.”
Rios also said he didn’t do much over the winter, even skipping out on Vernon Wells’ birthday party. Wells, sitting a few lockers over, chuckled when Rios brought that up. I suggested that the party should’ve been held in Puerto Rico. “I know!” Rios agreed.
After the meeting, pitchers and catchers will begin their workout today with good old-fashioned stretching on the team’s “agility field,” which is just a plot of grass between two practice diamonds with a grid of lines painted on it. Two years ago, it was just a field. Now, it’s got a super cool name!
Starbucks: Located and enjoyed. Grande White Mocha, because they don’t carry Irish Cream anymore. A Grande Irish Cream Mocha is my drink of choice at any other coffee joint.
In my CD player: The Killers — Hot Fuss, because as much as I love this Vegas band, that first album is still their best.
Last night: Watched a three-hour Baseball Tonight special, which they said at the start was aimed at previewing all 30 teams. Funny, I don’t recall them bringing up the Jays.
Tonight: Trying to find the Flight of the Conchords episode from last night somewhere online. No HBO at the ol’ condo. Not cool, especially when the Wife calls laughing to see if I watched the show. No, I did not. Thanks for asking.