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
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.
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
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…
More photos from around camp today. Enjoy.
First baseman Lyle Overbay fielding a ground ball during practice
Bench coach Brian Butterfield hitting a grounder during fielding drills
Infielder Kevin Millar during fielding drills
Pitching prospect Ricky Romero prepares to throw during a bullpen session
Second baseman Aaron Hill in the batting cage
Infielder Joe Inglett prepares to swing during batting practice