Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells is expected to be sidelined a month after straining his left hamstring on Monday at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. Wells was left Toronto’s complex to undergo an MRI exam to further evaluate the damage.
“Right now, preliminary, I’d say he’s going to miss four weeks,” Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said.
Wells had two stints on the disabled list last season, including one for the same hamstring last July. The 30-year-old center fielder finished the season batting .300 with 20 home runs and 78 RBIs, but he spent 52 games on the DL. He also fractured his left wrist in May of last season.
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.
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
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)