Jays vs. Pirates - Rolen homecoming Pt. II
12:08 - Call off the B.J. Ryan watch. The closer will not be pitching in a Grapefruit League game Saturday, as was originally planned.
Ryan will now pitch in at least two more simulated games (or maybe one sim game and one minor league game) before he faces major league hitters. This about-face apparently comes after the team had another consultation with Ryan's surgeon, Dr. Tim Kremcheck. Kremchek wants the team to go slower with Ryan.
Manager John Gibbons said Ryan isn't experiencing any unusual arm soreness after yesterday's sim game. He said the club is afraid that Ryan might feel a little too much 'adrenaline' in a Grapefruit League game. So we're back to the original timeline - mid-March at the earliest - for Ryan's debut.
Interestingly, Gibbons said there is no plan to pitch Ryan in back-to-back games here in Florida. In fact, there's no plan to do that for the first month of the season at least, assuming Ryan breaks camp with the Jays. That means that one way or the other, Jeremy Accardo will get his chances as the closer early in the year.
1:00 - In anthem news today, the bass tenor on hand got through O Canada in about 40 seconds. I wasn't paying close attention, but I think he may have skipped a verse. Or six.
Cloudy skies here and cool. But no wind. Marco Scutaro, who's been getting some special stretching attention in the outfield, comes in. We're almost ready. Eckstein-Johnson-Stewart due up first for the Jays.
1:04 - Shi Davidi of CP wonders why I haven't used his Song of the Day pick yet - Safety Dance. Because B.J. Ryan hasn't pitched yet, that's why, Shi.
1:05 - My seatmate who, as far as I can tell, is one of the PA announcer's cronies, doesn't have that switch in his mind that allows him to filter what he thinks and what he says. 'Here he comes' 'Oh yeah, that's Murphy.' 'Where's that sun at?'. Anger. Rising. Musn't. Lose. Control.
1:07 - First pitch - Gorzelanny to Eckstein. It's a ball.
1:08 - Eckstein grounds out to first. Johnson up.
1:09 - Johnson cracks his bat grounding to short. Stewart's turn.
1:10 - There's no spot here for the Pirates' bullpen to watch the game. So they're all sitting on lawn chairs on the right-field warning track inside the foul line. Ten bucks for the first guy who scatters them.
1:11 - Stewart grounds out to third. McGowan's the first man on the field. Morgan-Sanchez-Nady due for the Pirates.
1:13 - Nyjer Morgan is wearing old fashioned stirrup socks - black over white. He immediately becomes my favourite Pittsburgh Pirate. Replacing the old one - nobody.
1:14 - McGowan runs one in a little too close and grazes Morgan on the hands. He takes his base.
1:15 - Catchers' streak is over. Morgan is off and running on the first pitch. Fasano's throw is high. Morgan is safe. Then Sanchez knocks the ball past Scutaro, who's playing at first. Morgan scampers home. 1-0 Pirates. Sanchez in with a single.
1:16 - First pressbox 'Head's Up!' of the season as Nady almost kills a Pittsburgh writer with a foul ball. I'm not loving these digs.
1:17 - Then Nady flies out to deep right.
1:18 - Streak's really over. Fasano misses high again as Sanchez is in with the second Pittsburgh steal of the inning.
1:19 - My annoying seatmate is now digging at his finger with a nail clippers. Click. Click. Click. He has a hangnail. How do I know that? Because he announced it to no one in particular.
1:20 - With the count full, McGowan blazes one past Doumit for the swinging strikeout. Two outs, man on second.
1:21 - Steve Pearce takes the first pitch and launches it to left. Stewart backs up to the wall, but its over. That's Pearce's third homer of the spring. 3-0 Pittsburgh. McGowan versus Bautista now.
1:22 - Bautista grounds out to third. Wells-Rolen-Hill due up for Toronto.
1:25 - Wells hits one a tonne off the wall in dead centre. That's a double. Rolen up.
1:27 - Gorzelanny works Rolen inside over and over. The big 3B just keeps arching back. Rolen walks. Men on first and second, none out. Hill up.
1:28 - Double steal. Wells slides in ahead of the tag. Make that men on second and third. It's almost like the Jays want to win this one.
1:30 - Hill walks. Bases loaded. A well-stretched out Scutaro steps in. Pittsburgh pitching coach out for a conference. Mound conference! This is spring. Let him solve his own problems.
1:32 - Scutaro flies to right. Wells scores. Rolen advances to third. Men on the corners, one out, 3-1 Pittsburgh. Barajas now up.
1:34 - Barajas knocks one up the middle. Shortstop gets to it, but can't drag himself to his feet in time. Infield single for Barajas. Rolen scores. 3-2 Pittsburgh. Men on first and second, one out, Fasano up.
1:36 - Gorzelanny runs three straight balls on Fasano. The fourth pitch looks outside to the crowd. They pipe up. 'All them Dunedin people' my seatmate sneers.
1:38 - No matter. Gorzelanny hits Fasano. Bases loaded, still one out. The Pittsburgh left-hander is yanked. Eckstein up next.
1:40 - ECK! ECK! He takes the first pitch over the wall in left. Eckstein Grand Slam. "Number one for Ecky?" the official scorer asks the Jays PR guy. Um. Yeah. 6-3 Jays. Johnson up.
1:42 - Johnson grounds out to second.
1:42 - Stewart knocks one off the pitchers' glove, but the second baseman scoops it up. Neither of the Jays' left-field hopefuls is exactly grabbing that brass ring right now. Thompson-Josh Wilson-Velandia up for the Pirates.
1:46 - McGowan walks Thompson. He's not as sharp today as he was in his first start.
1:48 - Check swing. Scutaro up quickly from first to start the double play. Toronto just misses catching Wilson on the 3-4-1 DP. Man on first, one out. Velandia up.
1:50 - Velandia lines the ball into left for a single. Men on first and second, one out. My friend Morgan back up.
1:51 - Morgan strikes out swinging. Two out. Sanchez, who singled in the first, is up.
1:52 - McGowan is throwing a lot of pitches. I doubt he goes his scheduled three.
1:53 - Wild pitch. Runners advance. Men on second and third, two outs.
1:54 - McGowan gives him the high heat with a full count. Sanchez can't catch up to it. Third out. Once again, Wells-Rolen-Hill due up for the Jays. 6-3 Toronto.
1:57 - Wells strikes out on a called third strike. He doesn't look happy. Rolen steps up.
1:59 - Rolen flies out to centre. Hill's turn.
2:01 - Hill grounds out to short. As expected, McGowan's out after two. Casey Janssen comes in. He's also due to pitch three. After two-and-a-half, it's still 6-3 Jays.
2:06 - Finally. After seven or eight pitches, Janssen strikes out Nady.
2:09 - Doumit flies out to centre. Pearce, who homered in the first, is up.
2:09 - Doumit grounds to third. Rolen's bouncing throw draws Scutaro off the bag, but he recovers to tag Doumit out. Good save. Scutaro-Barajas-Fasano up next. 6-3 Jays after three.
2:13 - Scutaro hits one back to the pitcher, Zach Duke. He's out. Barajas up.
2:14 - He hits one down the left-field line that Pirate 3B Bautista gives up on. It's fair. Barajas in with a stand-up double. He's 2-for-2 today and 4-for-8 this spring with a pair of doubles. Fasano up.
2:17 - Fasano strikes out. Sal, if you don't start hitting, we will all be robbed of the pleasure of your company. We're serious when we say we don't want that to happen.
2:18 - Eckstein hits another one hard, but the left-fielder tracks it down before it can fall into the gap. Bautista-Thompson-Wilson up for the Pirates.
2:20 - Janssen draws Bautista into chasing a bad one. Strikeout.
2:22 - Two in a row. Thompson swings at the air. Two out.
2:24 - Josh Wilson flies out to right. Feels like some rain's on the way. I'm off to the clubhouse to find McGowan. See you in a bit.
4:13 - Was this the longest spring training game in history? Possibly. Davidi described it as 'Chinese water torture'. Jays pitcher Jean Machi, throwing two instead of his planned one inning, gave up a three run lead in the ninth. The Pirates win 8-7. All in all, a decent day with the bat, especially for Eckstein. But McGowan and Janssen didn't look their sharpest. Nonetheless, manager John Gibbons said afterward that the Jays will continue to stretch Janssen out. He'll throw four innings in his next outing.
This is it for me for a bit. I'm heading back to Toronto, and into the teeth of another snowstorm apparently, tomorrow. I'll be back in Florida on the 22nd. Until then, Al Ryan and Rich Griffin, respectively, will be your blog hosts. Thanks for your notes and emails. We'll see you soon.