Gibbons '08 scrum debut
Happy Valentine's Day. Like a rock star headlining a live show, John Gibbons sauntered into the press room at the Englebert Complex about an hour later than scheduled...which is interesting since he really had nothing to do today and never was in uniform. But one guesses that his thought process is that you might as well make the unwashed scribes wait on Day 1 of camp with over seven months to go in the season. You don't want to spoil them. By the dog days of August, there's even some days where he doesn't appear at all. And who can blame him? We don't mind, unless, of course, we're on deadline. But that's the great thing about spring training. No early deadlines at the paper, no snow on the ground, no ice except in your drinks.
Besides, unless there's a specific issue at training camp, regarding an injury, someone who's late to report, someone who labels the Jays clubhouse a country club, like Shea Hillenbrand two years ago or something else unusual, these informal sessions with the manager in the early afternoon usually devolve into free-form discussion combining sports and politics and life itsownself that are worth a few laughs with a few notable one-liners thrown in.
Today's baseball wisdom from the manager included the fact that B.J. Ryan is the key to a lot of things on the pitching staff. Gibby prefers Casey Janssen in the bullpen, but others in the front office (i.e. J.P. Ricciardi) would like to see him in the rotation -- only, of course, if B.J. is ready on Opening Day. Janssen will begin the Grapefruit League sked as a starter, because it's easier to reign a pitcher back in as the spring winds down rather than stretch him out. And Gibbons is insistent that he will go with 12 pitchers even if his rotation is heallthy and ready to go six-plus innings in April.
Gibby believes this is the deepest, most talented Jays team he has had. He may play Marco Scutaro some at first base as well as in the outfield, which would make him a super-sub something they tried and failed to accomplish with Ryan Roberts a year ago. Scuitaro pretty much filled that same role in Oakland.
I mentioned earlier the Hillenbrand "country club" crisis from a couple of springs ago. It's funny how back then Gibby took exception to that criticism from his designated hitter, but when informed today of Roy Hallladay's two-day-old comments that at times last season in the clubhouse he didn't feel there was a sense of urgency, the skipper just shrugged and said that maybe he was right. I guess it's really not that surprising considering the difference in respect the two players had within the clubhouse and the front office.
Other baseball notes from today included the absence from camp of the three new key players, Scott Rolen, Eckstein and catcher Rod Barajas. Of course, they don't need to be here, because the pitchers and catchers are on the field for the first time officially on Saturday afternoon following morning medicals. A little later, I'll have some leftover thoughts about Roger Clemens and the Congressional hearings. I'm sure that after yesterday's performance by the Rocket, he and Debbie are having a wonderful Valentine's Day dinner. Or not.