Increased security, announcement of starters and retired numbers. Here’s the latest:
Per a press release from the Blue Jays, Florida Auto Exchange Stadium will be subject to “new security measures... to help ensure a safe, family-friendly ballpark environment to all visitors of the stadium,” the release read. These increased measures will now feature a walk-through metal detector and metal-detecting wands, “if any follow-up is necessary following walk-thru.”
In addition, Florida Auto Exchange Stadium is now a smoke free facility and will prevent re-entry once you leave the park.
Get ready for an airport-like entrance ... pic.twitter.com/gALrufuMic— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) February 23, 2017
I’m not sure how much of an impact, if any, this will have on those travelling south for Spring Training. From the press release, the security now seems to stand un-coincidentally similar to the security at the Rogers Centre, which, by itself, slows down stadium entry but isn’t too much of a fuss.
If you’ve been sleeping lately, wake up - the first spring training game is tomorrow (!), and the Blue Jays are preparing for the first real fake games by announcing their starting pitchers for the next three days. Casey Lawrence, a lifetime Blue Jay minor leaguer, will start tomorrow at Champion Stadium against Atlanta, while Joe Biagini will begin his journey of being stretched out as he gets the nod for the spring home opener Sunday. As a split squad day, Brett Oberholtzer will start against the Yankees in Tampa, also on Sunday. Monday, newly acquired Mat Latos will start.
Mark Buehrle, a Blue Jay from 2013 to 2015, is set to have his number 56 retired by the Chicago White Sox this summer, perhaps signaling that the consistent pitcher is actually retiring, an announcement that Buehrle has yet to make. In a 16-year major league career, Buehrle pitched a total of 3283.1 innings - including 14 straight seasons with more than 200 innings - ranking him 35th all-time in the American League. He’s a five time all-star, four time Gold Glove winner and played his final major league game with Toronto on October 4th, 2015.
Of course, this reignites my interest with the Blue Jays retiring numbers. When Edgar Martinez’s number 11 was set aside in late January, I asked the very same question - what iconic Blue Jay numbers should be retired? Some thought that, should Roy Halladay get into the Hall of Fame, he deserves the honor. Others, obviously, looked to Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista as possible candidates.
All in all, it seems like Toronto views the Level of Excellence as a more practical application of honoring a player.