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
Good news on the Vernon Wells front. Jays skip Cito Gaston said Wells is scheduled to make his first Grapefruit League appearance of the spring as a designated hitter on Friday in Dunedin. Wells is coming back from a strained left hammy, suffered Feb. 23.
Gaston said Wells will play center field for maybe three innings on Saturday, will be off on Sunday and then will DH again on Monday. The hope is that Wells will be fine to play center by Opening Day. He played in a Minors game again on Thursday with no issues.
Gaston said Scott Rolen (stiff back) is scheduled to take some batting practice tomorrow and he should be OK in a day or two to play. As for Travis Snider (left knee), Gaston said he’s going to be given a few days off, but the injury isn’t considered serious.
Rod Barajas and Alex Rios, both back from the World Baseball Classic, will be in the lineup tomorrow in Dunedin as well. Gaston also said that Scott Downs looked good in his Minor League appearance on Wednesday. Downs is skedded to pitch one inning on Saturday in his first Grapefruit League game.
Joe Inglett, RF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Adam Lind, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Jason Lane, CF
Jose Bautista, LF
Scott Campbell, 3B
Raul Chavez, C
John McDonald, SS
Casey Janssen, P
Jorge Posada, C
Johnny Damon, LF
Nick Swisher, 1B
Hideki Matsui, DH
Xavier Nady, RF
Cody Ransom, 3B
Melky Cabrera, CF
Angel Berroa, 2B
Ramiro Pena, SS
A.J. Burnett, P
Stopped by Dunedin Stadium this morning for batting practice. The Jays hold BP at home on days they play the Phillies in nearby Clearwater. And glad I did roll over there, because one of the best moments of the spring occurred.
Roy Halladay headed over to the snack cart and reached into the bucket of gum to grab a few pieces. As he walked away, Doc accidentally dumped the entire bucket and its hundreds of Double Bubble pieces all over the ground. Without as much as a flinch, Doc kept walking and left the mess in front of the clubhouse exit.
Not 10 seconds later, rook Travis Snider heads over and gets on hands and knees and begins picking up all the gum, completely knowing his role. As he was reaching under the cart to retrieve every last piece, Doc walked by and had the biggest grin you’ve ever seen the guy have.
“You’re all over it, Snider,” Halladay said with a laugh as he headed out to the field.
“It’s a good start to the day,” said Snider to the group of us reporters standing there enjoying the whole scene. “I got Doc on my side.”
Rod Barajas is back in camp after Mexico was bounced from the World Baseball Classic. Alex Rios should be around tomorrow or the next day now that Puerto Rico is out as well. USA! USA! USA!
Barajas had great things to say about the tournament and also about youngster Brad Mills. When asked if he was surprised to see Mill sill in camp, Barajas offered this:
“Absolutely not. I caught his first bullpen on accident. I’m looking through the line of pitchers and I’m trying to find the guys that I think are going to be challenging fo that spot and I hadn’t heard Mills’ name yet. But everybody had somebody else and I saw him and I’m like, ‘All right, I’ll take this little lefty.’ I was pleasantly surprised. I wasn’t expecting that out of him. So, the next time he threw a bullpen, I wanted to catch him again and his stuff was right there. It was unbelievable.”
Scott Downs threw in a Minor League intrasquad game today and center fielder Vernon Wells got some more ABs in that game as well. Wells is hoping to get into a Grapefruit League game this weekend. Said Cito: “Hopefully, we can start the season with him in center field. That’d be great.”
Don’t forget, you can follow my in-game updates at www.twitter.com/mlbastian
Russ Adams, LF
Jose Bautista, SS
Jason Lane, CF
Kevin Millar, 1B
Scott Rolen, 3B
Travis Snider, RF
Michael Barrett, C
Brad Emaus, 2B
Jesse Litsch, P
Chase Utley, 2B
Miguel Cairo, SS
Greg Dobbs, RF
Jayson Werth, CF
Matt Stairs, LF
Pedro Feliz, 3B
Chris Coste, 1B
Ronny Paulino, C
J.A. Happ, 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…
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
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.
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)
That, in a sense, sums up Day 1 at Spring Training for us scribes. Unless you’re Robby MacLeod of the Globe and you’re feeling extra motivated to run around and do interviews, the first day at camp is basically chilling out, chatting with players and coaches and just enjoying the start of another season.
I’m sure Yankees camp is a little different. But, for the most part, the Bobby Mattick is a relaxed atmosphere with a handful of reporters hanging out between the clubhouse and the practice fields. For the beginning of camp, we’ve got myself, MacLeod, Griff from the Star, Sandler from the Post and Elliott from the Sun.
Today wasn’t mandatory for any players to be in camp and tomorrow isn’t either. Tomorrow is the “reporting” date, which means pitchers and catchers just have to be in the area. Physicals are on Sunday and the first official workout will be held on Monday. Today, there were some bullpens thrown, some hitters taking BP and some other light drills going on.
Most of the pitchers are in camp, and a handful of position players have arrived already as well. Off the top of my head, I spotted John McDonald, Aaron Hill, Russ Adams, Curtis Thigpen, J.P. Arencibia, Michael Barrett, Adam Lind and Travis Snider, as far as position players go.
Hill mentioned that I looked “a little beefed up” today, but I quickly corrected him and said, “No, you mean a little puffed up.” I guess taking three weeks off from running — dealing with a right leg issue since my last marathon in january — has helped me pack on a few pounds again. Good thing it’s Spring Training! I’ll be using the next six weeks to whip myself back into game shape, as long as there are so many Minor League deals being tossed around.
Speaking of which, the recently-departed Dirk Hayhurst is back in the fold once again. Hayhurst, if you’ve been following closely, was acquired off waivers from the Padres in October — only to be relased earlier this week to clear room on the 40-man roster for Matt Bush. Today, Hayhurst inked a Minors deal to stick with the Jays after all.
Chatted with Roy Halladay today about the state of the game and the whole A-Rod steroids admission and you’ll see that story up on bluejays.com today. We also discussed the state of the team and you’ll be reading something on that a little later. As far as the rotation, Halladay did say he wouldn’t mind seeing some of the younger arms stepping up and earning those spots.
He also said that, at the end of last season, he thought the Jays were going to be a lot more active over the winter. Halladay said he understands the situation, but he obviously would’ve loved to have seen the club go out and make some big pick-ups, including re-upping A.J. Burnett. As for his contract situation, Halladay doesn’t want to discuss it with the season being underway now.