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Russ Adams talked with Batters Box last week when Syracuse were in Buffalo.
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On tough days at work, many of us look out the window and dream of being a ballplayer, leaving the worries and the stress behind. Demanding bosses, unclear assignments and changing roles and responsibilities send us to daydreaming about the better way, on the field.

But the next time you think about the big time, consider Jason Kershner.
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Gerry and I arrived in the visitor's clubhouse at 4 p.m. on a beautiful Friday afternoon to find only a smattering of players there. One of the players asked us who we were. After introducing ourselves we told him we wanted to talk about how the ballclub was doing. He thought for a moment and replied that we'd better wait for manager Marty Pevey. When we discovered we were talking to the one and only Stubby Clapp, our eyes lit up.

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Many baseball fans will agree that Scott Carson has one of the best jobs in the world. He gets a terrific view of all the Blue Jays games while making an important contribution to the broadcasts. While the team is on the current road trip, the TV statistician will be visiting this thread to answer questions from Batter’s Box readers. We thought you might like to get to know him a little better first.
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One of the silver linings amid the dark clouds of the 2004 season for the Blue Jays has been the emergence of Jason Frasor as an outstanding big-league reliever. The hard-throwing righty had never pitched above Double-A when Toronto traded for him in March. Despite the reluctance of his manager to apply any labels, the 26-year-old rookie has already become the team’s closer and a fan favourite.

Admittedly, it’s a small sample size, but no matter how you slice his splits, Frasor has been terrific. Righties are hitting .185 off him with a .485 OPS, while lefties haven’t fared much better, batting .218 with a .586 OPS. On the road, his ERA is 1.98; at home it’s 2.16 — overall, he’s given up runs only four times in 26 appearances.

Batter’s Box sat down with Jason last week in those plush “action seats” behind home plate, several hours before an interleague game against the Dodgers. Thanks to Robert Dudek, making his AL media debut, for contributing some of the questions and taking the photos.

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When Rob Neyer agreed to discuss his new book (co-authored with Bill James), The Neyer/James Guide to Pitchers A Historical Compendium of Pitching, Pitchers and Pitches, with Batter's Box, the bottom-line question was put forth:

"Is this book-length biography of 'Pitchers, Pitches and Pitching' headed for a Hall of Fame career on the bookshelves of baseball fans, prominently displayed next to James' Abstracts and Neyer's Lineups?"

The one-word answer is ...

… well, maybe. Okay, that's two words. But this book isn't really comparable to previous issues from Neyer or James, so it's a bit like asking if Dennis Eckersley belongs in Cooperstown.
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For baseball fans, the minor leagues have always been the Undiscovered Country. The big leagues, fans knew about – they read the daily boxscores, saw the highlights (first on local broadcasts, eventually on Baseball Tonight) and read the articles (from The Sporting News to Baseball Digest to USA Today to the Internet). There was an ever-increasing information base of major-league baseball data upon which fandom could feed. But finding out about the minor leagues usually involved the equivalent of travelling to Delphi to speak with the Oracle (and we don’t mean Dan Szymborski).
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About a month ago, Batter’s Box visited Jerry Uht Park in Erie to watch the Blue Jays’ Double-A affiliate take on the Tigers’ farm club. We’ve already published interviews from that trip with pitching coach Rick Adair, first-round draft choice Aaron Hill and second baseman Dominic Rich, and we also spoke to two young Canadians who aspire to represent their country at the Olympics this year.

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Rob Bradford is the author of Chasing Steinbrenner, which is an in-depth look at the 2003 season of both the Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox. In Rob's words, "it is about the journey two teams (and the people who run them) take through the 2003 season in baseball’s most warped division. From the inside, it looks at the highs, the lows and everything in between that these particular professionals are forced to deal with on a daily basis." Rob was quite taken by the epic nature of the baseball season: "former Red Sox manager Grady Little said it best when he compared the campaign to not 162 games, but 162 seasons. Spending the time I did with the people involved on both sides makes you realize there couldn’t be a more true statement."

Chasing Steinbrenner is due to be released on May 21 and is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com. I initially spoke to Rob during the winter; the frenetic activities of the Red Sox and Yankees this past winter resulted in Rob telling a little more story than he had originally planned and a new publication date. So we caught up again recently and invited Rob to "step into Da Box" for a Q&A about the Sox, the Jays, and Chasing Steinbrenner.
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Although Batter's Box favourite Reed Johnson is an outfielder, there are more than a few similarities between "Sparky" and 24-year-old infielder Dominic Rich. When asked about past ballplayers that influenced them, Johnson and Rich named two men famous for their on-field intensity. The words "throwback" and "old-school" come to mind, and it's hard for a true baseball fan not to like either of them. Reed Johnson arrived at the major leagues with little fanfare and showed he could play; don't bet against Dominic Rich doing the same.

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Rick Adair is the pitching coach for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. When some Bauxites visited the Cats in Erie recently we talked with Rick about The Blue Jays organization, Leo Mazzone, and some of the Blue Jay prospects.
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A year ago, Aaron Hill was leading Louisiana State's drive towards the College World Series. Now, he's in AA after only 65 professional games last season. One of a handful of highly-touted college hitting prospects in last year's draft, Hill was chosen 13th overall by the Blue Jays. Many expected Toronto to take a pitcher with their first selection, particularly since the Jays took another college shortstop in the first round the year before - Russ Adams. Despite the expectations carried by a first round draft choice and the competition within the organisation, Hill seems unperturbed by it all.

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Welcome to the first installment of a new Batter's Box feature. Impressed by the quality of questions presented in the "Ask Jerry Howarth" thread, the Blue Jays broadcaster has agreed to do this with us again on a regular basis. We're very grateful.

My apologies if I paraphrased, combined or omitted any of your questions. Though Jerry was generous with his time on Sunday morning, he did have a game to call, and we tried to get to as many as we could. Perhaps as this season progresses, there will be more focus on what he's seeing on the field and in the Jays' clubhouse. This time, we get to know Jerry a little better, beginning with his responses to our Roster questionnaire.
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Rob Neyer doesn't pull any punches on his personal Web site, the eponymous RobNeyer.com, starting out the obligatory FAQ with the simple question, "Who the hell are you, and where the hell did you come from?"
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We’re delighted to welcome another Blue Jays regular into the Batter’s Box. Thanks very much to Kevin Cash for taking the time to chat prior to a game last week at SkyDome. The rifle-armed rookie is off to a great start this season, taking his biggest step yet toward shedding the "good field, no hit" label with the first 4-for-4 game of his young career last night in Detroit.

The accompanying photos are by Aaron Reynolds. In addition to his important duties as the Blue Jays Cheer Club founder, "Named For Hank" is now the official photographer of Da Box.
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