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In the Star today, Dave Perkins writes about the SARS scare:

It is bad news, though. Bad news for small business. Bad news for big businesses. Bad news for the Blue Jays, who need this like they need, uh, a left fielder who doesn't know which base to throw to after six years in the big leagues. This is one time it's even safe to feel sorry for them.

Hear, hear. Even the snide remark about Stewart, who as a LF is a fine hitter. One of my best friends is a Professor of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology in the Graduate School of Public Health at a large U.S. university. He's shocked at the decision by WHO and we both suspect it might be politically motivated; someone wanted to pin an Advisory on Beijing and when they looked at the criteria they were using, Toronto fit. It's unfair and unneccessary, but the damage is done. I will be at tonight's game, and unlike the Royals, won't be wearing a filter mask and latex gloves.
The great thing about baseball, of course, is that there's always something new under the sun. The latest exhibit comes from sunny Daytona Beach, Florida, where teenaged Cubs prospect Jae-kuk Ryu is in hot water after nailing an osprey during pregame warmups. Apparently ospreys are a semi-endangered species in Florida, and killing or injuring one gets you a misdemeanour charge. The report makes no indication of whether it was accidental (cf. Dave Winfield, Randy Johnson) or intentional.

Apparently, this kind of incident also gets the xenophobic neighbours on your back. One outraged resident reportedly wants the pitcher "deported" back to South Korea. Charming. You think if it was a strapping white high school kid who brained the bird, they'd be calling for him to be deported back to Texarkana? Ryu's lucky he's not from France. Charlie Lea might have been run out of town on a rail.

Anyway, the Cubs demoted Ryu to their Lansing affiliate in the Midwest League, and I hope that was out of concern for Ryu's safety at Florida State League ballparks, or maybe as a face-saving PR move, rather than actual punishment. Because if Jae-kuk Ryu gets demoted for injuring a bird, why then, Ben Christensen deserves to be cut loose by the organization altogether, wouldn't you think?
Interesting piece in today's Globe from Jeff Blair. The Jays brass, apparently, has been sufficiently impressed with Frank Catalanotto that they're planning to bring him back in 2003 as their everyday left fielder. The Cat himself says that left field is his favoured position going forward, and that he quite likes being in Toronto.
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You have to go all the way down to Charleston before you get a dominant pitching performance from a Jays' minor leaguer, in what was a slugfest-kind of day. But what a performance it was.
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As expected, it's a night off for Carlos Delgado. Josh Phelps is at 1B and Greg Myers bats cleanup; Jayson Werth (hitting seventh) gets the start in RF and Cat's the DH. Jays pitcher Tanyon Sturtze, in the city he calls home, faces his former teammates. He's walked a dozen batters the last two starts, in part because you don't want to be down the middle against those Yankee and Red Sox hitters. Tanyon doesn't have to be perfect; his mates will get him some runs against Jorge Sosa, and there are several fresh arms in the Toronto bullpen, including the reliable one.

I will make no predictions; it would be nice for the Jays players and fans to win big, as everyone's holding their breath these days with even a three-run lead.
Toronto fans came out to Skydome in force to witness Game 1 of the Ultimate Showdown between their All-Star Jays and the 1977-2002 All-Star Yankees, but a heavy taste of Ragin' Cajun and too much of a young Indiana lad nicknamed Donnie Baseball sent the crowd home disappointed.

Yankee lefty Ron Guidry, fresh off a 25-3 Cy Young campaign, tossed a complete game three-hit shutout and punched out 13 Jays, while receiving more than enough support from a pair of Don Mattingly two-run homers as the Yankees claimed the first of this best-of-seven by the score of 6-0.

"I felt good today," admitted the soft-spoken Guidry ...
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In the absence of proud new dad Craig B, your humble correspondent is here to provide some news and notes from around the majors.
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Rain washed out the Hew Haven Ravens, driving the entire ballpark crowd into a booth at the local Denny's. The Skychiefs and Alley-Cats only wish rain had wiped out some sorry pitching performances.
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The Blue Jays have the "A" team in against Victor Zambrano. After facing some tough opposition in his first four starts, LH Mark Hendrickson can be just a little more aggressive with his fastball tonight. It's a good opportunity for Lurch to build some confidence and prove he belongs in the rotation. I can't think of a better night to start a winning streak.
I threw together some stats for the Jays through the 'terrible twenty'
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Well, the Terrible Twenty is finally behind us and the Jays are off to Tropicana Field -- among the more bizarre venues in sports, and a stadium that has been surprisingly unkind to the Jays since the spectacularly unsuccessful Tampa Bay franchise joined the American League.

The Rays' Achilles heel has been, without question, starting pitching. Tampa starters are conceding home runs, giving up base hits, issuing walks and generally failing to eat innings. While some of us here at Batter's Box -- yours truly definitely included -- have bemoaned the Jays' wildly risk-averse offensive strategy against the stellar staffs of Minnesota, New York and Boston, this appears to be a series where patience at the plate should lead to a boatload of runs in the Bay. Now, if only the Jays could concentrate in the field and get some relief from the bullpen.

On to the Advance Scout!
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Some more awfully attractive pitching lines in the minors, not to mention some breakout performances at the plate, in a 3-0 Monday for Toronto's farm teams.
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Jayson Werth gets the start in RF (and bats second) against Tampa lefty Joe Kennedy. Dave Berg is at 2B (hitting ninth) for the same reason. With three hockey playoff series going the limit tonight, this may not be our busiest game thread -- happy channel flipping.
Through all the comical misplays in the field, the self-immolating bullpen, the lack of base-stealing and cautious running of the bases, the strength of the 2003 Blue Jays has been hitting.
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Nothing to do with Jordan, it's a racetrack term meaning an eighth of a mile. Today, if the baseball season was a mile race, the Blue Jays would be approaching the 220 yard marker. In track and field, or thoroughbred racing, they don't worry much about that split; it's too soon to be meaningful. The opening quarter time is considered worth recording, and we should have a better idea about the 2003 Jays when they complete the next 20 games. It's fun to look at them through a microscope, but binoculars are useful too.

Radio only on the FAN 590, first pitch shortly. The Red Sox have chosen to rest Nomar and Todd Walker. Damian Jackson and Bill Mueller up the middle are not quite as scary. It's Lidle's turn to shoulder the weight of the team's slump; let's hope he responds positively.