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
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
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
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…
Not really great news on Mike Maroth, but not necessarily bad news, either. Despite “something” showing up in the MRI exam, as GM J.P. Ricciardi worded so eloquently, the lefty has decided to try to pitch through the discomfort.
“There’s something in there,” Ricciardi said. “He might have some damage in there that requires surgery, but he thinks he can fight through it. That’s really his call.
The Jays signed Maroth to a Minor League deal over the winter with the hope that he could compete for a spot in the rotation, or at least add deptch behind the big league staff. Maroth is making his way back from left shoulder surgery as well.
That’s it for now. I’m all hopped up on Red Bull and hoping the clouds don’t start sending the rain. It’s a bit dreary here today weather wise. I’m planning on sitting down with Aaron Hill a tad later to talk about his comeback from that nasty concussion.
JOINING THE CLUB: We can all welcome the Globe’s Robby MacLeod to Twitter. You can find him on there at www.twitter.com/Sportshack. He’s still building his page, but he joined the new super cool trend this morning. As a reminder, I’m on there at /MLBastian.
NEW ARRIVAL: Jose Bautista showed up to camp today, leaving 3B Scott Rolen as the only no show so far. Rolen lives in Bradenton, so he’s probably using these last days to spend more time with the fam. Why commute before you’re required to? Manager Cito Gaston said he’s not worried about Rolen at all.
UPDATE: Looks like Maroth’s injury might be a bit more serious. One Jays insider described the situation as “bleak” and it’s believed that the injury is a torn meniscus in his left knee, which would require at least 4-6 weeks of recovery if he had surgery. Gaston stated the obvious, saying this puts Maroth way behind in the race for a rotation job. Maroth was a long shot to begin with. No one seems to know what caused the injury.
Some injury news today from the Mattick. Scott Downs didn’t throw during the bullpen sessions today and it was revealed that he underwent a precautionary MRI exam on his left elbow. Mike Maroth is also scheduled to have one on his left knee.
GM J.P. Ricciardi said that Downs’ MRI came back clean, but he felt a “twinge” in his throwing arm. The lefty will take four or five days off, according to Ricciardi, but the injury isn’t considered serious.
As for Maroth, his left knee locked up on him and he’s being examined as well. I’ll keep you posted on that injury as we know more. We spoke with Lyle Overbay today — check bluejays.com later for more on that.