So, it seems as though young Brad Mills can do no wrong in manager Cito Gaston’s eyes. After Friday’s four-run, six-hit, five-inning performance, Gaston was still very forgiving, pointing out missed calls by the umpire and praising Mills’ ability to settle down.
Gaston also offered up this gem:
“Hey, we’re looking forward to having him on this club.”
“We’re not sure if he’s going to make it out of camp, but we’ll see what happens in the next week or so.”
On Sunday, Matt Clement and Scott Richmond will pitch in the same game on the road against the Twins. That could be a big game for both of them. Even after today, I get the impression that Mills and Richmond is ahead of Clement in the club’s eyes, which could mean that’s the pair that will be heading north.
An MRI on Janssen’s right shoulder showed a mild muscle strain, according to the Jays, and he’s set to play catch in three days. But, that’s on flat ground. He is now behind and heading north as a starter seems an unlikely scenario, especially with the Jays needing a fifth man right out of the gates.
“He’s going to have to back off either way, whether we want to or not,” said Gaston. “He’s going to be backed off anyway. It might be a little bit of a struggle to get him ready for the season. We have to wait to see what’s going to happen with that.”
As for Richmond, who missed some time due to the WBC and is also a tad behind thanks to not pitching in the tournament, GM J.P. Ricciardi had this to say:
“We’re giving him a little bit of leeway there. Innings wise, he’s behind the other guys, but he’s right in the mix.”
“We’re going to try to take the best guys with us and Richmond, he certainly has a great chance of making this ballclub. We all know him, we all like him and he didn’t get a chance to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, but we’ve had him around before and he’s always given us a chance to win a ballgame.”
Ricciardi was very short in his meeting with the media today and worked very hard not to say much of anything. When asked if every start from here on out was a sort of audition for the rotation candidates, this was his response:
“Yeah and no. Right now, we have a pretty good idea what we think we can take. Obviously, if someone goes out and keeps pitching well, it’s only going to make you take notice. But, I think we’re going to take the whole body of work into consideration.”
By “whole body of work,” Ricciardi meant this Spring Training.
Catch you all tomorrow…
More coming on this later today (on bluejays.com), but just to get the news up here for you all: Brett Cecil and Mike Maroth have been returned to Minor League camp. In Maroth’s case, he’s going to talk to his agent and decide whether to accept a Minors assignment or to ask for his release.
GM J.P. Ricciardi said Cecil isn’t ready to make the club and he needs to continue to work on his fastball command. Brad Mills has been the talk of camp all spring and Ricciardi said the young lefty is “pushing the envelope” in terms of making a case for having a job in the rotation.
Matt Clement is behind Casey Janssen, Scott Richmond and Mills for one of the starting jobs, according to Ricciardi. He added that Janssen doesn’t necessarily need to open in the Minors because he is slightly behind the rest of the pitchers. He’s very much in the running for a spot.
Other moves today: Adam Loewen, Brian Dopirak and Ken Takahashi were also returned to Minors camp.
Don’t forget, you can follow my in-game updates at www.twitter.com/mlbastian
Norris Hopper, CF
Chris Dickerson, LF
Joey Votto, 1B
Brandon Phillips, 2B
Jay Bruce, RF
Edwin Encarnacion, 3B
Lance Nix, DH
Alex Gonzalez, SS
Ryan Hanigan, C
Johnny Cueto, P
Joe Inglett, SS
Aaron Hill, 2B
Jose Bautista, CF
Kevin Millar, 1B
Scott Rolen, 3B
Jason Lane, DH
Travis Snider, RF
Michael Barrett, C
Russ Adams, LF
Brad Mills, P
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…
Some more pics from the Jays’ workout today.
Roy Halladay preparing a throw during a bullpen session
Lyle Overbay getting ready to take some cuts in batting practice
Adam Lind watching batting practice
Manager Cito Gaston talks hitting with coach Gene Tenace
Manager Cito Gaston takes in batting practice
Adam Loewen watches batting practice
Travis Snider steps out of the batting cage
Infielder Joe Inglett prepares to field a grounder
Second baseman Aaron Hill fielding a ground ball
Shortstops Marco Scutaro (left) and John McDonald during fielding drills
Pitching prospect Brett Cecil fires a pitch during a bullpen session
Ace Roy Halladay throws while pitching coach Brad Arnsberg admires
Left-hander David Purcey in his windup during a bullpen session
Catcher Michael Barrett and Brett Cecil after their bullpen session
Reliever Jesse Carlson throws during a bullpen session
Casey Janssen throws during a bullpen session
Jesse Litsch prepares to throw during a bullpen session
Reliever Jason Frasor follows through on a pitch during a bullpen session
Reliever Brandon League prepares a pitch during his bullpen session
Back at the ol’ MLB.com condo here after spending the morning over at the Mattick for Toronto’s reporting day for pitchers and catchers. The reporting date is kind of overblown, if you ask me. All this day means is players have to be in Florida — not at camp.
The real action will start on Monday, when all of the invited pitchers and catchers are required to be in camp for the first official workout. There’s plenty of them around already, including Mr. Halladay (pictured right). That photo is from the AP wire — nice shot. I’ll probably begin toting my camera to camp beginning on Monday. So keep checking back here for photos from around camp.
It was a pretty chill day today. Only three reporters and a few new faces around for the Jays. Ken Takahashi made his first appearance, as did GM J.P. Ricciardi and team prez Paul Beeston. I also saw Rod Barajas briefly before heading out to watch some of the pitchers work through drills.
I talked to Shaun Marcum today after he was done playing a light round of catch with one of the Jays’ trainers. Marcum is throwing every other day right now and has been throwing since shortly after the Super Bowl. Seeing him and Dustin McGowan walking around is a constant reminder of what Toronto is missing, and the competition it’s created this spring.
From our short meeting with J.P. today, we learned that the team isn’t going to pencil Travis Snider into the Opening Day lineup just yet. Ricciardi said he could definitely envision a scenario in which the Jays feel Snider could benefit from more seasoning at Triple-A. That’s one reason for the Millar signing, to help build a contingency plan.
If Snider begins the year at Triple-A, Adam Lind would be the starting left fielder and both Kevin Millar and Jose Bautista would likely make the team as well. With Snider and Lind in the fold, it’s not clear whether the club would carry both Millar and Bautista, or if someone like Joe Inglett might be at risk.
As for any more spring additions:
“We’ll see if there’s anybody out there that we match up with in a trade,” Ricciardi said. “I don’t foresee it, because obviously the No. 1 thing we’d want to get is some kind of pitching and I just don’t see that being in excess out there.”
Discussing the rotation, Ricciardi said he’s looking forward to seeing how the battle for the two vacancies plays out, with a mix of prospects, reclamation projects and holdovers vying for jobs. He did say that, on paper, the top five right now are Halladay (no kidding), Jesse Litsch, David Purcey, Casey Janssen and Scott Richmond.
As for Scott Downs being considered as a starter? No more. Said Ricciardi: “His heart’s not in it. He doesn’t want to do it, so we’re probably better off keeping him at a comfort level.” I say that’s a smart move, because Downs is a big reason why Toronto’s bullpen is as strong as it is right now.
FUNNY EXCHANGE OF THE DAY:
Bench coach Brian Butterfield: “Hi, Scotty.”
Scott Richmond, walking to the bullpen: “Hey.”
Butterfield: “Hey? I haven’t seen you all winter and all I get is ‘Hey’?”
Richmond (laughing): “How are you doing today Butter?”
(a few minutes later, Brandon League walks by)
Butterfield: “Hi, Leaguer.”
(Butter laughs and throws his arms in the air)