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Baseball is back!  Today the Jays play their first game of the spring and this is shaping up as one of the more interesting spring trainings in a while.  On the pitching side of the roster there are very few guaranteed spots and the competition will be fierce for the next month for those jobs.

Ricky Romero starts the season on the mound for the boys in blue today but don't read anything into that.  AA was on the Fan 590 yesterday and said that Romero starting game one did not mean anything in regard to opening day.  AA was also heavy on the hopeful side of the ledger in this interview, he believes the team feels they are underappreciated and no-one believes in them.  He thinks they will come out with all systems blazing to prove the doubters wrong.  He mentioned how Vernon Wells is taking more of a leadership role, as is Aaron Hill, and he sees that as a difference this year to keep the clubhouse in line.

The Jays brain trust met with all the players individually this spring to discuss their roles.   Frasor, Downs and Gregg will have to battle for the closers job.  Kyle Drabek is headed to AA unless something unexpected happens.  However he did mention that the staff were really excited about Drabek when AA came to camp.  AA downplayed McGowan somewhat, he mentioned that Casey Janssen looked great last spring training but later regressed, so he is cautious.

The only position player battle is whether Randy Ruiz is the DH with Lind in leftfield and Bautista in right, with Snider in the minors, or if Snider makes the team then Ruiz might be a bench player.  AA basically said Ruiz can't play defense so disregard the early spring training stories about Ruiz losing weight and taking balls in left field.  Edwin Encarnacion is recovering from wrist surgery and will have a slow start to the spring.

But back to the games.  Courtesy of Jordan Bastian, here are today's players:

The first Jays lineup of 2010:

1. Jose Bautista, 3B
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, DH
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Lyle Overbay, 1B
6. John Buck, C
7. Jeremy Reed, RF
8. Alex Gonzalez, SS
9. Travis Snider, LF

Pitching: Ricky Romero, Dana Eveland, Josh Roenicke, and also listed for possible appearances are Willie Collazo, Merkin Valdez, Zech Zinicola, Zach Stewart and Daniel Farquhar

Remember that in the first week to ten days of spring the pitchers are getting their arms in shape and throwing a lot of fastballs down the middle so don't get too excited if some hitter unexpectedly starts tattooing the ball all over the field.  It likely is a spring training surpirse, destined to fade in April.

Other stuff:

Jesse Carlson pitched the second half of last season with a torn pectoral muscle, sounds sore to me.

Jason Frasor battles for the closers job.

Adam Loewen is featured in fanhouse and says he now knows how to hit off-speed pitches.

Another Jason Frasor story.

Brett Wallace is ready for prime-time.

Game on!

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92-93 - Wednesday, March 03 2010 @ 12:47 PM EST (#212141) #
I was actually hoping AA meant that if Ruiz is the everyday DH, Lind would play LF and RF would be a Bautista/Snider platoon, with Bautista gobbling up the rest of his ABs playing 3B 1-2x a week.
christaylor - Wednesday, March 03 2010 @ 01:09 PM EST (#212142) #
How Bautista and how he performs will be interesting. If EE is ready to start the season and Bautista is showing his form during the spring, wouldn't we all hope that Snider is in AAA until he forces the organizations hand to get rid of one of EE/Bautista? Hopefully getting rid (or trading) one of them happens as soon as possible and Cito/the organization starts to buy into Snider's ability to play RF.

Yankees are on... yes. Today is a one of the best days on the calendar each and every year. Not as good as April, but one of the best.
Gerry - Wednesday, March 03 2010 @ 01:20 PM EST (#212143) #

Baseball America conducted a draft of minor league prospects.  330 prospects were selected by 11 BA staffers.

You would expect the Jays to have had 11 prospects selected, or fewer.  11 is the average number selected and the Jays are ranked in the bottom half of minor league systems.  However the Jays had 12 players selected, one or two more than would have been predicted.  Also the Jays selections were split throughout the draft, they had 4 players selected in the top 100, 6 in the top 200, and six in the top half of the draft.

There were three top ten prospects (before the Halladay trade) that were not selected, Josh Roenicke, Justin Jackson and Brad Mills.  Roenicke profiles as a reliever and there were not many relievers selected.  Mills and Jackson have battled injuries and both have questions about their potential.

The Jays had two players selected from outside the top ten, Danny Farquhar and Ryan Schimpf. 

This was an interesting exercise that shows the Jays sytem might be stronger than they are given credit for.

andrewkw - Wednesday, March 03 2010 @ 02:10 PM EST (#212145) #
Hill walked in both his plate appearances.  That's a good early sign. 
Dewey - Wednesday, March 03 2010 @ 02:31 PM EST (#212146) #
Hill walked in both his plate appearances.  That's a good early sign.

Whew, I feel better.   Yeah, yeah, it might be a small sample size; but *still* a good sign.  I think.  What if it means he's impinged something or other in his shoulder and can't swing? Or what if the pitcher couldn't find the plate?   What if . . . ?   Anyway Andrew, you get a cuttlefish for this, or maybe a plain old sponge.
andrewkw - Wednesday, March 03 2010 @ 03:58 PM EST (#212147) #
Dewey I already have lots of cuttlefish (sepia bandensis), they are very fascinating creatures.  So i'll take the sponge. 

Are any spring training games going to be on the radio?  or available on / mlb audio?

John Northey - Wednesday, March 03 2010 @ 05:27 PM EST (#212148) #
Ah well, a first game loss.

Lubanski getting a 3 run HR is nice, a couple stolen bases and no one caught is also nice to see. At this point, that is pretty much all we should look for - extreme performance and trends.
Mick Doherty - Wednesday, March 03 2010 @ 06:46 PM EST (#212149) #

pretty much all we should look for

One addendum, JN. Especially in Game 1 and early goings: blank spaces in the injury report.

Ryan Day - Wednesday, March 03 2010 @ 07:07 PM EST (#212150) #
I was just going to say before Mick beat me to it: No one walked off the field holding their elbow and/or shoulder, and no one got hit in the face/hand with a ball.

Great game!
stevieboy22 - Wednesday, March 03 2010 @ 09:42 PM EST (#212152) #

I have been intrigued by Chris "The Big Lubanski" since he signed.

It seems confusing that he 28 homeruns as a 20 year old in high A, yet never made Baseball Americas top 100 list after doing so. I take it that "scouty types," never really like his swing.

He said in an article, the reason he came to Toronto was because he saw it as the best chance to get to the majors. So far he has infinite more homeruns than anyone in spring training and the Jays need a 4th outfielder so who knows. He's not that old and will be the minor league free agent I'm rooting for.

Chuck - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 06:23 AM EST (#212154) #

He's not that old and will be the minor league free agent I'm rooting for.

Lubanksi, soon to be 25, has almost 700 AAA at-bats under his belt, with an OPS of around .700. The odds look awfully long that he'll force his way onto a major league roster, even one as thin as the Jays'.

Ryan Day - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 09:45 AM EST (#212155) #
Lubanski was a decent hitter until he hit AAA. Maybe he can figure something out?

But he's still a corner outfielder (though with a few games in centre), and the Jays are well-stocked on that front. He'd have to really break out to put himself in the team's plans.

Ryan Day - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 10:27 AM EST (#212156) #
85bluejay - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 10:36 AM EST (#212157) #

I don't thing it's that tough for Lubanski - If Snider has a poor spring and Lubanski does well, I can see Snider

at AAA (the jays brass have said Snider has to win a job) and having Lubanski in left against RH and Lind in

left against LH with Ruiz as DH

85bluejay - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 10:42 AM EST (#212158) #

I bet if Cecil injury is from a domestic type incident - the team will be using today to come up with a

plausable explanation - Over the years sports fans have been treated to some doozy explanations

when players/club have tried to obscure how the injury actually occured.

Mike Green - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 11:40 AM EST (#212159) #
Whoa.  It's a finger injury.  Personally, I assume that the team's account of a kitchen cut is correct until there is some evidence that they are in the habit of disinformation on the scale of Ricciardi's "reporting" concerning Ryan's injury. Hopefully there will be no more of that kind of stuff.
Chuck - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 11:44 AM EST (#212160) #
Tobaggoning injuries, truck washing injuries, nightmares about spiders... those were creative days.
GregH - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 01:06 PM EST (#212161) #
Apparently Jays vs Yankees on Saturday March 6th will be broadcast on The Fan 590 in Toronto, likely on the Fan network as well.
TimberLee - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 01:26 PM EST (#212162) #
Whoa!  A "kitchen-type" incident.... When I think of some of the things I've done in a kitchen over the years....          :-)
Chuck - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 01:33 PM EST (#212163) #

No, a kitchen-type accident. Like when you get in a drunken brawl and decide to fashion a weapon from a beer bottle that you have smashed and then you get cut, that cut is similar to the cut that you might get while in the kitchen, cutting a sandwich.

Mike Green - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 01:51 PM EST (#212164) #
Hmm, you could get an STD while hiking the Appalachian trail, or you could get it while being immediately overwhelmed from swallowing too many oysters in the kitchen and then succumbing to temptation. I guess "kitchen-type"  injuries cover a lot of ground...
Matthew E - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 02:01 PM EST (#212165) #

Hmm, you could get an STD while hiking the Appalachian trail

What kind of hiking boots do you wear? I want to remember not to get that kind.

Ryan Day - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 02:08 PM EST (#212166) #
There are bears up there. You need proper protection.
Lugnut Fan - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 02:16 PM EST (#212167) #
The Jays V Yankees game will also be broadcast on the MLB network on Saturday as well.
Mick Doherty - Thursday, March 04 2010 @ 02:20 PM EST (#212168) #

Hmm, you could get an STD while hiking the Appalachian trail

Heh, yeah, or worse. Just ask the guvnor of South Caraliney!

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