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Spring Training News and Notes

I'm discontinuing the daily game recaps. Since games are rarely, if ever, televised, it's difficult to transmit any insight or thoughts that aren't apparent to anyone who's simply reading the boxscore. However, when the season begins, we'll write daily game previews and recaps. They'll be fun and will hopefully generate a good amount of interest. As for now, I'll post about some of the happenings and going-ons of spring training thus far.

- With yesterday's victory against Tampa Bay, the Blue Jays are now 3-8. On the bright side, they've played .500 ball since beginning with a record of 0-5.

Here are the overall Grapefruit League standings through March 11th:

  • After its stunning upset of team USA, Canada was eliminated from the WBC by team Mexico. Sadly, the game was a blowout from the get-go, as starting pitcher Jeff Francis allowed six earned runs in only one-and-one-third innings of work. Antithetically, Mexico's starting pitcher, Esteban Loaiza, pitched very well, allowing only one earned run through five innings. The Canadians simply couldn't capitalize on Mexico's pitchers' tendency to give up walks, as they stranded the bases loaded in the sixth inning after Oliver Perez displayed horrific command of the strike zone. Team Canada should not be disappointed, however, because they played formidably well despite not advancing.
  • Justin Speier seems to be recovering from his finger injury. As a result, his availability on opening day doesn't seem to be in jeopardy.
  • Also, Reed Johnson, whose right elbow has been the cause of discomfort lately, should be available for opening day.
  • Following team Italy's elimination from the WBC, Frank Catalanotto, Johnson's likely platoon partner in left field, has rejoined the team and will be back in the lineup against the Astros on Monday.
  • Now that he's reunited with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, A.J. Burnett is modifying his mechanics. The article provides a brief description of what he's been working on:
Toronto pitching coach Brad Arnsberg has been working on restructuring Burnett's technique when pitching from the wind-up. In the past, the right-hander would turn his body without lifting his hands, but Arnsberg now has Burnett raising his hands over his head during the delivery.
  • As expected, catcher Erik Kratz and left-handers Ricky Romero and David Purcey returned to the minors after their brief spring trials with the Blue Jays. Actually, it appears that Scott Downs, Vinnie Chulk, and John McDonald will all make the opening day roster. That leaves only one roster spot available, with Pete Walker, Guillermo Quiroz, and Jason Phillips surfacing as the main competitors. To be honest, I'm not confident in asserting a favourite out of the three, so I'll attentively wait until the final roster is announced.
  • Paul Quantrill, the 39th greatest Blue Jay of all-time (according to humble old us, anyway), has called it a career at the age of 37. Nostalgically, I would've liked to see him continue pitching; realistically, however, it was rather obvious -- both last season and throughout the WBC -- that Quantrill's lost a good deal of movement and velocity on his pitches. He had a fine career.
  • Mike Ganter of the Toronto Sun recently wrote a very complimentary piece on Blue Jays third base coach Brian Butterfield.