Headed over to Dunedin Stadium this afternoon to try to catch up with B.J. Ryan before his appearance here tonight in Bradenton. Ryan was polite and apologetic, but said he declined comment in relation to his velocity issue right now.
“I don’t have anything to say,” he said. “Nothing prosperous.”
Soooo, I guess that’s that for now. We’ll obviously keep trying as the next week rolls along.
Some other movement today: The Jays have dealt catcher Curtis Thigpen to the A’s in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. I hope Thigpen can find a place with Oakland. His stock had fallen with Toronto and catchers J.P. Arencibia and Brian Jeroloman had flown passed Thigpen on the depth chart.
Had he not been traded, Thigpen would’ve likely would up at Double-A as the backup to Jeroloman, and maybe would’ve been moved around the field as a kind of super utility guy. Thigpen is a guy I also covered briefly when he was with the Lansing Lugnuts back in ’04, when I was still at Michigan State, so I’ll be pulling for him.
The Jays also released pitchers Mike Maroth and Rick Bauer today. As for Matt Clement, he showed up at Minor League camp and has accepted the invite to pitch at Triple-A. Good move on his part. If he pitches well, he’ll likely receive a chance to start for the Jays at some point this season. He gives the club some veteran depth in a year that will feature a lot of young arms.
It’s a windy night here in Bradenton. More later…
Marco Scutaro, SS
Brad Emaus, 2B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Scott Rolen, 3B
Rod Barajas, C
Travis Snider, LF
Howie Clark, DH
Roy Halladay, P
Nyjer Morgan, LF
Freddy Sanchez, 2B
Nate McLouth, CF
Ryan Doumit, C
Eric Hinske, 1B
Brandon Moss, RF
Andy LaRoche, 3B
Brian Bixler, SS
Virgil Vasquez, P
Back in the pressbox after what seemed like forever off. When you’re in Florida flying solo, days off don’t do you much good, especially when you’re not really a beach person. Spent some time reading, watching Flight of the Conchords and picking up the running again.
But, I’m glad to be back at work. The Jays host the Phightins tonight here at Dunedin Stadium, which is hardly known for its quality light towers. Got here early and had a nice chat with John McDonald, who isn’t taking the field worrying about if he has a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Sounds like Johnny Mac doesn’t have much to worry about anyway. Both manager Cito Gaston and general manager J.P. Ricciardi said he has a spot on the team as things stack up right now. Said Cito: “We’d be breaking camp with one shortstop, so I’d almost think he’s on the team.”
Jays had a “B” game this afternoon against the Phils as well, over at Bright House Field. Scott Rolen homered twice, Kevin Millar once, and B.J. Ryan made his first appearance since opting out of the World Baseball Classic. Ryan’s line: 1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 1 HR, 1 BB, 1 K.
Ryan said he’s currently working on shortening up his stride, one issue he’s had this spring. Earlier this spring, he said he felt he was holding back due to the surgery he had on his elbow. Ryan said he isn’t holding anything back this spring, and his health is fine. It’s still just mechanical problems that need sorting out.
Doc Halladay on the hill tonight against Philadelphia.
Eric Bruntlett, SS
Marcus Giles, 3B
Raul Ibanez, LF
Greg Dobbs, 1B
John Mayberry Jr., CF
Geoff Jenkins, RF
Mike Carvenak, DH
Pablo Ozuna, 2B
Ronny Paulino, C
Chan Ho Park, P
Joe Inglett, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Jason Lane, CF
Brad Emaus, 3B
Travis Snider, RF
Michael Barrett, C
John McDonald, SS
Roy Halladay, P
Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan has pulled himself out of the World Baseball Classic due to concerns about the current state of his mechanics. Ryan labored through his first two spring outings for Toronto and has decided that remaining in camp with his own club was the best way to sort through the issues.
Ryan was scheduled to pitch for the United States in an exhibition against the Blue Jays on Wednesday at Dunedin Stadium, but the left-hander will be replaced on Team USA’s roster. Ryan, who chose not to take part in the Classic in 2006 after just signing a long-term contract with Toronto, was looking forward to participating in the unique event this year.
“This was an especially tough decision because of the honor of playing for my country,” Ryan said in a statement released by Team USA. “But I feel it is the best interest of Team USA and the Toronto Blue Jays organization to not participate. I do not see it as being fair to my USA teammates, my Blue Jay teammates or myself to try to compete when my mechanics and delivery are not where they need to be in order to perform at the highest level.”
In his first two Grapefruit League appearances, Ryan allowed four runs on four hits with three walks and no strikeouts over one inning.
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
I upgraded my White Mocha from Starbucks to Venti size this morning to help rebound from what was a very entertaining evening out with some of the writers last night. Feeling tip top this a.m. and ready to get to work.
Walked into the work room this morning and was greeted with a nice little new “Spring Notes” handout courtesy of the PR staff — nice touch, guys. Besides noting that tomorrow’s workout doesn’t begin until noon, helping us scribes avoid the early-morning mistake we made yesterday, there are some other minor items of interest.
Among them, lefty prospect Brett Cecil is slated to start in Toronto’s first spring game against the Yankees on Wednesday. Ricky Romero, B.J. Ryan, Brian Burees and Rick Bauer are also skedded to appear. On Thursday in Clearwater, Scott Richmond will start against the Phightin’ Phils. Also penciled in: Ken Takahashi, Bryan Bullington, Luis Perez, Bill Murphy and Fabio Castro.
The Jays will also play 3 “B” games this spring, which will help get innings for the pile of pitchers in the running for a starting job. All 3 will be against the Phils, with games on March 2 at 10 a.m. and March 6 at 2 p.m. at the Philly’s park, and another on March 18 at 10 a.m. at the ol’ Mattick here.
Tomorrow is the Jays’ photo day as well. More later.
Continued to break down the looming roster decisions with manager Cito Gaston today and he provided a little more insight into what he’s thinking at this point. Of course, with five weeks left, anything and everything is subject to change. That injury bug doesn’t care about the plans.
As for the bullpen, which I find a more interesting race this spring than the rotation, Gaston said that his four lefties — B.J. Ryan, Scott Downs, Brian Tallet and Jesse Carlson — are all considered “locks” at this point. He added that some pitchers will have to beat out Jeremy Accardo for a job, so he’s the front-runner among the righties. Everyone else? Time to show something.
Last week, GM J.P. Ricciardi said he could see a scenario in which Travis Snider started the season at Triple-A. Today, Cito said Snider would have to play “real bad” not to be on the Jays’ Opening Day roster. As for the bench, which probably won’t have room for all of Kevin Millar, Jose Bautista, John McDonald and Joe Inglett, Cito said he has a tough decision ahead.
Someone made a comment on one of my stories recently about the fact that I always say there are only two openings in the rotation, when it’s been reported elsewhere that there are three jobs up for grabs. My reason for continuing to say that there are only a pair of vacancies?
“I would think there’s two spots. That’s what I think. Two spots open. I think Purcey pitched well enough to be one of the three guys that we have right now — unless he absolutely pitches himself off the club.”
So that’s Doc Halladay, Jesse Litsch, Purcey, and a pair of front-runners in Casey Janssen and Scott Richmond. Behind them, Toronto will take a good, hard look at prospects Brett Cecil, Brad Mills and Ricky Romero. Other candidates include Matt Clement, Brian Burress, Ken Takahashi, Mike Maroth and … I think I got ’em all.
One team insider told me the prospects might be ahead of Clement and the others on the depth chart at the moment. It’s also more likely that Janssen and Richmond make the club, barring injury or poor showings, and the Jays ease the youngsters into the rotation as the season moves along. Moving Janssen to the ‘pen during the year to clear a spot for another starter is also a possibility.
Got some stories to write. Later…
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
There’s an older security guard named Jim who’s here every year. Today, as usual, he’s parked in a fold-up chair outside the Blue Jays’ clubhouse. He’s been here since 7 a.m., and he’s been guarding a locked door.
Still not much going on in the way of player sightings. I think I might’ve spotted Shawn Camp briefly, but it was from a distance and I could be wrong. Coaches have been coming in and out of the building here, but they’re all headed over to the ballpark to sit down with the front-office types for some meetings.
Bench coach Brian Butterfield, bullpen coach Bruce Walton, pitching coach Brad Arnsberg and third base coach Nick Leyva have all poked their heads into the media room to say hello. Just spotted hitting coach Gene Tenace and, hey! Jays closer B.J. Ryan just strolled by. No rest for the Beej.
Walton left only a few minutes after arriving, and before he headed out the door he held up a thin book with a Blue Jays logo on the cover and smiled: “Well, that’s all the work I’m doing here today. I’ve got to go read up on all my new players.”
NEW SIGHTINGS: Roy Halladay, Jesse Litsch, Matt Clement, Brandon League. Gold stars all around. Day off? Not for these guys.