I’ve spent the past couple of days in Florida following our Blue Jays as they look to prepare themselves for opening day on April 2nd.
As I sat in the stands enjoying my first taste of live baseball since Mike McCoy threw out Eduardo Escobar at 1st (4-3) sealing both a 2-1 victory over Minnesota and the Blue Jays 2012 season, I took a number of notes on some items that I was able to pick up through out the games and I plan on posting a few of them on this blog.
In total, we’ll be attending 6 Blue Jays games over the course of a week in FLA so I’ll break the games up into 2 posts so this thing doesn’t get out of hand. In addition to posting these notes, I’ll be taking a number of pictures and video’s during my time around the team. The pictures you can find on instagram @ hendriks77
Here’s games 1-3.
Saturday March 2nd VS PHI
Although we were late getting into Dunedin due to some longer than expected wait times at Customs, we were still able to catch the final 3 inning’s of this one. Unfortunately Both Dickey and Johnson were out by this time but I was still able to get a good look at some of the other key pieces to this team. In a stroke of luck, I ended up sitting with a number of scouts not to mention across the isle from Pat Gillick, our former GM and member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Bonus.
- Never had I sat as close to field level so seeing Steve Delabar’s Splitter drop the way it did on Saturday was eye opening. Early March or not, his Velocity was sharp and the break on his go to pitch was even sharper, resulting in a pair of K’s during an inning of work.
- Esmil Rogers came in for the 8th and despite yielding a LOW, he came back with a strikeout and a couple of ground balls. In Rogers, you’ll notice easy power on his Fastball which should fit well into the back end of this Bullpen.
- Jeremy Jeffress came in for the 8th and like Rogers before him, exhibited more easy power out of his arm. His fastball has a lot of heat complimented nicely by a steady amount of movement.
Sunday March 5th VS PHI
Sunday took us into Clearwater which borders with Dunedin. It was a cold afternoon in the home of “America’s #1 Beach” as Toronto was set to square off vs Philadelphia at Bright House Field, a truly amazing venue to watch live baseball at. As the ceremonial first pitch was being delivered, Blue Jay fans rose to their feet as it was announced that one of the pitchers was none other than Cambridge’s own Rob Ducey who played with the Jays and Phillies during his career in the Bigs.
- Ricky Romero started this game and was having a lot of success getting ahead of Philadelphia bats however when it came time to put them away, he started to struggle with his command resulting in some hard hit balls. Luckily, Utley made a timely base running mistake in the 1st thus bailing Rick out before things could get out of hand.
- Although Melky Cabrera went 1/3 during this game, he hit the ball well with a short yet powerful stroke while also exhibiting a bit of speed on the base paths. PED’s aside, with a swing like his Cabrera could have a huge impact on this team in 2013.
- Forcing the issue with his speed down the line, Anthony Gose was able to induce a throwing error from Philadelphia’s SS which resulted in Blanco coming around 3rd with 2 out. Gose’s overall speed and hustle out of the box put a lot of pressure on the Phillies defense. Good times.
- Despite only going 1/3 on the afternoon, Jose Bautista was fun to watch at the plate. His 3rd inning HR was a thing of beauty as he was able to work the count full, laying off some tough pitches before forcing the pitcher to throw a strike. The strike, a fastball right down Broadway, ended up over the wall for his 2nd big fly of the spring. Joey Bats looks locked in at the dish and wrist appears to be fine early on.
- Getting another start at SS, Emilio Bonifacio continued to struggle defensively as a pair of errant throws cost the Blue Jays a few pitches in this game. Although only 1 was officially ruled an error, Bonifacio could have been rung up with 2 E6’s as he uncorked a laser wide of Mark DeRosa at 3rd resulting in a missed opportunity to end a Philly rally. This early in the spring it appears as if the 27 year old utility player is simply just uncomfortable at SS, rushing his throws and making mistakes with his foot work. The problems should work themselves out after a couple more weeks of shaking the rust off in ST.
Tuesday March 5th VS BAL
It was back to Dunedin on Tuesday to catch the Blue Jays as they took on the Fightin’ Showalters at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. With clear skies, warm temperature’s and a packed house, Tuesday was an ideal day for Baseball in Florida.
- Starting Tuesdays tilt VS Baltimore was the sneak fast J.A. Happ who was making his first start since sending Yankee Outfielder, Curtis Granderson to the DL for the next 10 weeks. Despite allowing 6 hits, Happ managed to complete his 3 innings of work allowing only a pair of Oriole Runs. Helped largely by a couple of key double plays Happ was able to minimize the damage while not issuing a single Walk on the afternoon. His velocity sat at a consistant 90 MPH on the Fastball, not bad for early ST.
- Saturday afternoon quickly turned into the Anthony Gose show as he flexed his muscles with speed on the base paths and his arm in CF. After being walked in the first, Gose quickly took off for 2nd stealing the first of his 2 bags on the day. If Gose could continue to show as good of an eye as he has early in ST, he could become a serious offensive threat with his speed at the leadoff position in the order. During the top of the 3rd with a runner on 2nd, Manny Machado flew out to DEEP CF drawing a tag up at second. A few steps in front of the warning track, Gose launched a perfect throw straight to 3rd baseman Andy LaRoche resulting in a 8-5 Double Play. Needless to say, Baltimore didn’t try running on Gose’s arm following that play thus resulting in a roar of laughter from the Blue Jay faithful in the crowd on a couple of occasions later on
- Into protect a 2 Run lead was Esmil Rogers for the 5th. To say that Rogers was hit hard would be an understatement as the 26 year old RHP surrendered 3 HR’s in his single inning of work. Rogers, a hard thrower, provided the power as Baltimore’s bats took advantage of the gusting winds towards LF en route to going ahead of the Jays by 1. Not all was lost as Rogers was able to K a pair in his lone inning of work however it was apparent that his location burned him during Tuesday’s tilt.
-I also feel like mentioning how Mark DeRosa started the game at 1st base and looked awfully comfortable do it. DeRosa, a right handed batter, has played a total of 36 games at the big league level over the course of his career so he does come with a bit of experience at the position. Who know’s, maybe we can throw his name into the mix for the platoon at 1st?