Tagged: Matt Clement

Ryan has no comment, Thigpen traded

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…

Today’s lineup:

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


Jays @ Reds

It’s spitting rain here at Ed Smith Stadium, but not really enough to call this game I wouldn’t think. Then again, I’m not a weatherman. I’m hoping it goes on as planned, because I’m looking forward to seeing if Ricky Romero can really pull himself back into the hunt for a rotation job.

Manager Cito Gaston still wouldn’t say whether Matt Clement would be gretting another start, but he didn’t sound confident that was going to happen. Gaston keeps noting that the Jays are reaching the point where the innings need to go to the guys who might be heading north, and I’d find it hard to believe Clement is still in the mix.

So, we’re still left with Scott Richmond, Brad Mills and Ricky Romero. Gaston said that there is no hesitation on Toronto’s part to hand a job to Mills due to the fact that he has no career innings at Triple-A. That doesn’t mean Mills has a job, just that his lack of AAA innings isn’t going to be an obstacle.

Gaston did say that, in the event that three lefties (David Purcey, Mills and Romero) wind up in the rotation come Opening Day, Jesse Litsch might be moved into the No. 3 hole to break up all the left-handers. Gaston said, if that happened, he’d be sure to talk with Litsch to assure him that it wasn’t a demotion at all.

Marco Scutaro has returned to the Jays and Gaston said he’ll be in the lineup tomorrow. Same for Travis Snider, who didn’t make the trip to Sarasota today as originally planned. Snider is coming back from a sore left knee and Gaston said he was playing in a Minor League game as a DH back in Dunedin today.

Today’s lineup:

Joe Inglett, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Scott Rolen, 3B
Randy Ruiz, 1B
Aaron Matthews, LF
Raul Chavez, C
John McDonald, SS

Ricky Romero, P

Norris Hopper, CF
Chris Dickerson, LF
Joey Votto, 1B
Adam Rosales, 3B
Jay Bruce, RF
Jeff Keppinger, 2B
Alex Gonzalez, SS
Ryan Hanigan, C
Edinson Volquez, P


Do Mills and Richmond have upper hand?

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.”

Quickly adding…

“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.”

Thoughts, Cito?

“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…


Wells update plus BoSox @ Jays pregame

Vernon Wells was in a pleasant mood today and why not? He had six at-bats as a designated hitter in a Minor League game today and felt good. Wells said he was excited to get back out there and he thinks he’ll play in his first game by this weekend.

Wells also said he doesn’t see why he wouldn’t be able to play center field for Toronto come Opening Day, adding that if it were the regular season right now he would’ve been back on the field a week or so ago. So, don’t purchase your Jason Lane jerseys just yet.

Chatted a bit with catcher Michael Barret, too. He had a significant wrap on his right elbow, but it was just normal icing maintenance. Said he’s been picking Gene Tenace’s brain and working with Doug Davis and his arm feels great right now. He’s had a couple nice throws to nab would-be stealers this spring.

Matt Clement threw in an intrasquad Minor League game today, working five clean innings. He said he feels great and he really wants to convince the Jays to put him in the rotation. If there’s no job with Toronto, he’s undecided if he’ll accept a Minor League assignment. He doesn’t want to pitch in the Minors if he can help it.

Brian Wolfe played catch today lightly for the first time since hurting his right shoulder. Threw from 60 feet and felt OK — some mild soreness, but more from what the trainers have been doing, not from the injury, according to Wolfe.

The B game for Wednesday has been cancelled, but Minor League games are beginning so that’s not a huge deal. Scott Downs was down to pitch in the B game, and he said he’s not sure where he’ll be working now, but he will definitely still be pitching Wednesday.

Moves today: Brian Jeroloman and J.P. Arencibia were returned to Minor League camp. Bill Murphy, Davis Romero and Robert Ray optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas.

Don’t forget, you can follow my in-game updates at www.twitter.com/mlbastian 

Today’s lineup:

Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Jed Lowrie, SS
J.D. Drew, RF
Chris Carter, 1B
Josh Bard, DH
Jeff Bailey, LF
Angel Chavez, 3B
Nick Green, 2B
Dusty Brown, C

Justin Masterson, P

Joe Inglett, LF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Jose Bautista, 3B
Jason Lane, CF
Travis Snider, RF
Raul Chavez, C
John McDonald, SS

Roy Halladay, P


Cecil, Maroth out of rotation race + pregame

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 

Today’s lineup:

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


Moving Day Odds and Ends

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


Decisions, decisions

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.”

Thanks, Cito.

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…


First Workout Photos

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

Clement holds court

Matt Clement joined us in the media workroom a little while ago and chatted with us scribes for a solid 20 minutes. With today being physicals day, and Clement still making his way back from a major shoulder operation, the first question was made somewhat in jest.

“You pass your physical?” asked one reporter.

“I did good,” said a smiling Clement.

Clement didn’t go into detail on what the doctor said, but did say he thought the doc was surprised that the pitcher’s shoulder was in as good of shape as it is. Clement said he doesn’t feel like he has any limitations right now and he’s looking forward to taking advantage of this competition for rotation jobs.

“I think I’m in a good situation,” Clement said.

Clement is also looking forward to working with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg again. The pair worked together during spring 2002 until Clement was traded by the Marlins to the Cubs. Clement said in that brief period, Arnsberg helped get him in line mechanically, and he thinks that’s a main reason he had such success that year (career highs in innings and strikeouts).

Clement said he threw six times off a mound before coming to camp and he’s starting working breaking balls into the mix. From talking to him, Clement sounds confident that he’s going to have a good spring. Of course, doesn’t every player seem that way when camp opens? If Clement is near his former form, though, the Jays might have a solid option there.

He might want to consider regrowing his well-known goatee. Clement showed up to the Mattick clean shaven and said people were having a tough time recognizing him.