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Wednesday Bantering

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at Detroit Tigers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Blue Jays’ winning streak continued yesterday with a victory over the vile Yankees in Tampa. Tanner Roark made his second appearance of the spring and looked much sharper this time, striking out four and allowing only one hit and no walks in four innings of work. The one hit was a double by DJ LeMahieu, who came around to score on a ground-out and a sac fly. Shun Yamaguchi came in to relieve in the fifth and had his best outing of the spring, although it was still something of a struggle. He went three innings and gave up a walk and two hits, including a solo homer to Kyle Higashioka in the seventh. Yamaguchi was promised an opportunity to start when he signed, but hasn’t done much to press his case this spring, especially with most of the other starting candidates playing very well. It seems like he’ll most likely end up in the bullpen, possibly in a multi-inning role like the one he played today. Sam Gaviglio followed him up with an uneventful eighth, and Ty Tice worked around back to byack singles by Diego Castillo and Hoy Jun Park to close it out.

On offense, the Jays’ hitters were mostly overpowered by Gerrit Cole, who struck out six in three and a third innings. Randal Grichuk managed a ground ball single in the first, advanced on a wild pitch, and scored on a Vlad Guerrero Jr. ground ball single. They fared better against Dan Otero, who came on in relief with one out in the fourth. Joe Panik tripled, continuing his hot spring and making a case for the job as the team’s primary utility infielder. After a Teosar Hernandez pop-out, Reese McGuire singled to drive him in. Andy Burns would add a double, but McGuire wasn’t able to score and the damage was limited to one. Jordan Montgomery came in to work the fifth through the eighth for the Yankees and completely shut the Jays’ hitters down, allowing no base runners and striking out five in his four innings of work. Things were tied in the ninth when Ben Heller started the inning by walking Luis De Los Santos. Next up was Santiago Espinal, who did this:

Espinal has had a great spring, striking out a little more than you’d like (6 in 22 PA) but hitting for more power than you’d expect as well (two home runs, two doubles, and a triple). He’s probably ticketed for Buffalo, but if any of his power gains are real and he can get his strikeouts under control, he could carve out a future utility role with the big league team.

Jays News

Over at, Mike Petriello has a piece putting the Blue Jays’ young core of hitters in context. He lists all the goups of four hitters 26 or younger who have each hit at least 10% better than average (which Bichette, Biggio, and Gurriel each did and which Vlad just missed in 2019). It’s a pretty promising group of teams, and it underscores how rare it is to have a complete young core this offensively talented.

At SportsNet, Ben Nicholson-Smith has a brief profile on Marc ‘Scrabble’ Rzepczynski’s attempt to make his Blue Jays comeback. Scrabble’s a sentimental favorite, plus I’ve finally memorized how to spell his name, so I’ll be pulling for him to make the team.

Rob Longley has a column in the Sun with some notes from the backfield side of spring training. He has some quotes from Alek Manoah, who seems to have his athlete platitudes down pat. He also notes that he saw Ryan Borucki long tossing, apparently pain free. Hopefully that means he’ll begin a proper spring program soon and the elbow issue that’s delayed his spring will turn out to have been minor after all.

The Jays announced new COVID-19 policies yesterday. That includes closing the clubhouse to non-essential personnel (read: reporters). There are no restrictions on fan interactions yet, but I think at this point we can only assume they’re coming. The A’s have started having players pre-sign a bag of balls they can toss to fans rather than signing autographs, and I have to say that seems like a good idea they Jays should consider.

MLB Pipeline published their farm system rankings yesterday. The Jays are down at 16th. That’s lower than Baseball America has them (6th), and even lower than frequently accused Blue Jay Hater Keith Law (7th). I think you could probably defensibly rank them anywhere in the 6th-16th range. They’re clearly not among the best systems after all the graduations last year, but I don’t think you could plausibly argue that they’re far below average.

Today, Chase Anderson gets probably his best chance to right the ship against Tom Eshelman and the Orioles. It’s a home game, so radio only. I really hope they get the TV situation in Dunedin figured out.

ORIOLES (Eshelman)

Mason Williams, CF

Pat Valaika, 1B

Renato Nunez, 3B

Ryan Mountcastle, LF

Pedro Severino, C

Stevie Wilkerson, 2B

Dilson Herrera, DH

Yusniel Diaz, RF

Richie Martin, SS

BLUE JAYS (Anderson)

Bo Bichette, SS

Jonathan Davis, CF

Lourdes Gurriel Jr., LF

Travis Shaw, 3B

Randal Grichuk, DH

Danny Jansen, C

Billy McKinney, RF

Brandon Drury, 1B

Ruben Tejada, 2B