The kick-off song to one of the greatest records of all time, Elvis Costello's "My Aim is True" kicks us off today. Well, Spring Training is underway, and that means two things: injuries and feel-good stories.
In the feel-good department, Lyle Overbay is thrilled to be back with the Jays for another season and spent the day spraying line drives all over the field before neatly gloving grounders at first. Overbay is the first to admit he's had a frustrating two seasons:
"Last year, I think I had a bad attitude," Overbay said. "I was trying to get back to '06 instead of worrying about what I was trying to do in that at-bat. I was trying to get the feel instead of just going up there and getting a good pitch to hit and going after it like I should."
As to whether he thinks he can be the hitter he was in 2006:
"I expect it," he said. "In '06, I had a really good game approach and was going after it. I put a good swing on some pitches and got some lucky hits, too. But I think they all even out anyway. I think I can hit .300 and hit over 20 homers and get close to 100 RBIs."
Sounds good to me. Finally, Overbay says he has retooled his swing and that Cito Gaston and hitting coach Gene Tenance have been working with him on his approach, encouraging him to be more aggressive on pitches in the strike zone. As long as Lyle doesn't sacrifice his ability to reach base at an above-average rate (he only got on base 34% of the time after the break last season, when he was clearly more aggressive at the plate), being more aggressive on hitters' pitches isn't a bad thing. While Lyle's on-base numbers were great in the first half last season, he was slugging under .400 and you could definitely tell he was letting hitters' pitches go by.
Lyle also sought the aid of a physical therapist over the winter, doing some new stretchng activities for his hand to get his strength and flexibility back to where they were before his hamate bone was broken by a John Danks pitch in June of 2007. That's unquestionably a good thing.
Now for the injury news: the injury bug has already bitten lefthanded pitchers Scott Downs and Mike Maroth. I can't say I'm too surprised or concerned about Maroth, but it was a little alarming to hear that Downs had a twinge in his left elbow, necessitating an MRI. The MRI came back clean, and Downs is scheduled to start throwing again in less than a week, but I was unhappy to hear about arm troubles after a whole offseason of rest. Yes, maybe it's just rustiness after his arm has been on the shelf for a while, but I didn't like the sound of it. Downs has already had TJ surgery on that elbow, and by the end of last season his arm looked clearly fatigued to me - he never fell apart, but he did have some shaky outings and Cito threw him unnecessariy several times, putting him in 3 or 4-run games when Carlson and Tallet were both available and he had pitched the two days prior, that type of thing. It's something to keep an eye on as even with our depth, Snakeface is not one we would want to be without.