As a kid, one of my things I paid close attention to in watching baseball were players' jersey numbers. Whether it was a new player joining the Blue Jays or an old player switching around his number, it was always fun to find out what everyone was wearing in Spring Training. Back then (before we had connected to the interwebs, or even had a computer in the house) I kept a handwritten roster for the Jays. I would add new players and cross of players that have left. For some reason I especially enjoyed scratching off a players' old number and writing a new one in its place. It was weird--he's the same guy, probably playing in the same position, but seemed to have adopted a whole new identity just because he changed his number. Something about that fascinated me.
I have since digitized my obsession to make it easier to share. Here is list of uniform number changes since last year, as well as what the newly arrived Blue Jays will wear on their back in 2012:
- Hitting coach Dwayne Murphy will switch back to #41, after wearing #21 last year when former bullpen coach Pat Hentgen wore his old number.
- New bullpen coach Pete Walker will be wearing #40. He wore #41 in his two stints as a reliever for the Jays.
- Pitcher Francisco Cordero will be sporting his familiar #48 in his first year with the Jays. Scott Richmond wore that in 2011.
- Pitcher Evan Crawford, newly added to the 40-man roster, will be wearing #46. Eric Thames wore that last year.
- Returning pitcher Jason Frasor will be given back his old #54. True story from last year's Opening Day: I had seats at the very back corner of the 500-level in right field so I couldn't hear the PA nor could I see the Jumbotron. I saw the groundscrew unveiling a gigantic "54" in the infield and wonder why the heck they were honouring Frasor before remembering about Jose Bautista's home run total from 2010. I'm glad I wasn't on Twitter back then.
- Re-acquired pitcher Trystan Magnuson will be given #35 this year. He wore #64 in his brief stint with the A's last year. Rommie Lewis wore that number last season.
- Pitcher Darren Oliver will be wearing #38, a number he wore between 2007 and 2009 for the Angels. He wore #28 (his original number) last year with the Rangers. Sean Henn was assigned that number last Spring Training but no Jays player has worn it for the Major League club since John Wasdin's 3 appearances in 2003 (pitching coach Brad Arnsberg wore it between 2005 and 2009).
More players after the jump.
- Newcomer closer Sergio Santos will be sporting #21 after he wore #46 with the White Sox in his two seasons in the Majors. He wore #21 as an infielder for the AAA Syracuse Chiefs in 2007 and 2008.
- Premium catcher Jeff Mathis will be wearing #6, a step up from #5 which he wore as an Angel last year. Fan favourite John McDonald wore #6 for his entire Blue Jays tenure. In 2012, Mathis will probably set the record for most number of games among Jays catchers who wore #6: Dan Whitmer (7 games), Pat Kelly (3 games), and Carlos Delgado (2 games).
- First baseman Mike McDade, a new addition to the 40-man roster, will wear #66, the same number he wore as a non-roster invitee in the 2011 Spring Training. The only Blue Jays player to ever wear that during the regular season was, of course, Juan Guzman.
- Infielder Luis Valbuena will be wearing a sleek #1 this season. Darin Mastroianni, who was recently designated for assignment, wore that last year. Valbuena wore #1 for the Indians last year until he switched to #2 after they acquired Kosuke Fukudome in July.
- Outfielder Ben Francisco will be wearing #8 in 2012, after wearing #10 for the Phillies last year. Jose Molina wore #8 for the Jays in 2011.
- Returning outfielder Eric Thames will change from #46 to #14, perhaps to distance himself a little bit from Travis Snider (#45)? Thames wore #62 in Spring Training in 2011, and wore #21 with the 51s.