Drove through a driving rain to get to ol’ Osceola County Stadium here this morning and with an hour before game time the tarp is still on the diamond. The rain has let up, though, and I don’t think a rainout is in our future.
Chatted with manager Cito Gaston about a few things today. One being that Vernon Wells, Travis Snider and Rod Barajas — all circled on the travel roster for today — did not make the trip to Kissimmee. Wells hurt his left wrist yesterday and had a cortisone shot, out for a few days. Snider jarred his left knee yesterday and Barajas is nursing a sore back.
Gaston said he doesn’t believe any of the injuries are serious and the disabled list hasn’t been discussed for any of the players at this point, even with the season right around the corner. Well broke the same wrist last year and Cito said the center fielder hurt it during his last at-bat yesterday.
Also talked about Shaun Marcum and Dustin McGowan, who continue to make their way back from injuries. It’s been tossed out there that Marcum might be ready by August or September, but Cito says he doesn’t see the point in bringing him back before next year. As for McGowan, he continues to be behind and Cito said he might be out of the picture until next year as well.
On the hill today is Ricky Romero, making his last bid for a job in the rotation. It’s down to Romero, Brad Mills and Scott Richmond. Gaston still isn’t showing his hand in terms of which way the Jays are leaning for the Nos. 4-5 slots. I’ve been saying Richmond/Mills all along, but now I could just as easily see them going with Mills/Romero.
We’ll know soon enough…
Marco Scutaro, SS
Aaron Hill, 2B
Alex Rios, CF
Kevin Millar, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Adam Lind, LF
Jose Bautista, 3B
Raul Chavez, C
Moises Sierra, RF
Ricky Romero, P
Kaz Matsui, DH
Hunter Pence, RF
Darin Erstad, 1B
Carlos Lee, LF
Miguel Tejada, SS
Geoff Blum, 3B
Ivan Rodriguez, C
Jason Michaels, CF
Jason Smith, 2B
Brian Moehler, P
Blasted Nine Inch Nails’ “With Teeth” through the Jeep on the hour-or-so drive here to sunny Sarasota this morning. Nothing like coffee and Reznor to wake you up. Entering Ed Smith Stadium, the security guard kept calling me “Bubba” while checking my bag. Cracked me up.
Just got back to the pressbox a little while ago after our daily pregame chat with Cito. Not a whole heckuva lot going on today, but Gaston did say that Vernon Wells — out since Feb. 23 with a left hamstring strain — will probably begin playing in games in another 10 days or so.
Wells took part in some running drills prior to Toronto’s game against the Reds last night in Dunedin and reported no soreness. Cito also said today that Jason “King of Spring” Lane could head north with the club if Wells isn’t ready by Opening Day. That’s been the assumption anyway with how Lane has been hitting of late, and since Cito has been running him out to center regularly.
Hey, and remember that A.J. Burnett fellow? The guy that opted out of his contract with Toronto and signed a five-year deal with the New York Yankees? Ringing any bells? Yeah, well, turns out he’s scheduled to start against the Blue Jays tomorrow in Tampa. Should be fun.
“It’ll be nice to see him,” Gaston said. “I certainly got along with A.J. really well and I appreciate the way he performed last year for this club after I came here. You know what? He’s a good guy for me and I wish him all the best. But, when we play him, I hope we beat him.”
UPDATE: Funny story. We were misinformed about Burnett’s start. He’s going today for the Yankees — NOT tomorrow. Soooo, there goes that. Andy Pettitte is starting tomorrow against the Jays.
Don’t forget, you can follow my in-game updates at www.twitter.com/mlbastian
Joe Inglett, 2B
Buck Coats, CF
Adam Lind, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Scott Rolen, 3B
Travis Snider, RF
Michael Barrett, C
J.P. Arencibia, DH
John McDonald, SS
David Purcey, P
Brett Cecil, P
Jacque Jones, LF
Alex Gonzalez, DH
Chris Dickerson, CF
Brandon Phillips, 2B
Jonny Gomes, 1B
Laynce Nix, RF
Jeff Keppinger, 3B
Humberto Cota, C
Paul Janish, SS
Micah Owings, P
With or without Vernon Wells, the show must go on. It’s moving day tomorrow for the Jays, who will pack up camp after their morning workout and move shop to Dunedin Stadium. As for today, I spent some time snapping some more photos. Enjoy.
Third baseman Scott Rolen during Monday’s workout
Infielder Kevin Millar during Monday’s workout
Catcher Rod Barajas during Monday’s workout
Third baseman Scott Rolen moving to another practice field
Ace Roy Halladay winding up during a live BP session
Second baseman Aaron Hill during batting practice
Center fielder Vernon Wells (10) talks with Aaron Hill during BP
Ace Roy Halladay delivering a pitch during batting practice
Third baseman Scott Rolen gloves a ground ball during fielding drills
Third baseman Scott Rolen fielding a grounder
Right-hander Jesse Litsch during his live batting practice session
Catcher Michael Barrett during batting practice
Catcher Michael Barrett talking with reporters by the batting cage
Manager Cito Gaston behind the batting cage
Shortstop Marco Scutaro during batting practice
Outfielder Adam Lind during batting practice
Outfielder Adam Lind during batting practice
Third baseman Scott Rolen during batting practice
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
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
Funny, there’s only two beat reporters here at the Mattick today. Apparently, there’s something going on over at Legends Field in Tampa. I wonder what that could be? Something about some dude named Rodriguez?
I wouldn’t know. I cover the Blue Jays.
Slow day here at camp, though Marco Scutaro arrived, leaving only Jose Bautista, Scott Rolen and Lyle Overbay as the absent position players from the big league team. Kevin Millar arrived yesterday and we chatted with him today. Check bluejays.com a bit later for a story on that.
I’ll also be posting some photos a bit later from Day 1 at camp yesterday. I was having some computer issues and wasn’t able to post them until now. Also just sat down with Cito, and discussed a few things with him.
When asked if Bautista and Millar could both make the roster, Gaston said that’s a possibility, adding that it depends on how many pitchers the team decides to head north with. He said the Jays might consider going with one less pitcher at the very beginning of the season.
Adam Lind made fun of my graying hair today, and told me I was getting old. Nice, since he and I are pretty much the same age. I asked him if I should dye my hair Dennis the Menace yellow like he’s got going on right now. Not really in a position to make fun of someone’s hair, Lindy.
And Travis Snider told me I was a crazy person for running two marathons over the winter. “I don’t think I ran 26 miles all offseason,” he said. Maybe not, but Snider has shown up to camp a bit trimmer and looking like he’s in great shape. He said he’s dropped about 8-10 pounds.
In my CD player: Pearl Jam — Vitalogy, because this is my favorite rock album of all-time. Now, don’t mistake me here. I won’t claim this to be the best rock album of all-time — just MY personal fave. Vitalogy was my first rock casette tape when I was a kid and it was what launched my love for rock, especially ’90s grunge. This album never gets old.
Flight of the Conchords: Watched it last night and enjoyed it thoroughly. Season 2 has been up and down so far, but the fifth episode was one of the better ones of this season.
Last night: Went out and completely embarrassed myself in a round of billiards with the Star’s Rich Griffin. We were playing best of five, and I looked good from the get go. Down to one ball plus the eight in Game 1, and Griff had five left on the table. He went on a run and I never took another shot. Game 2, I was down to the eight ball and Griff had four on the table still. Another run, another loss. From there, my confidence went through the floor and Griff destroyed me. Terrible. Just terrible.