Jays vs. Pirates - Rolen homecoming
I'm off shortly to try and beat the Jays bus to Bradenton, about an hour and fifteen minutes from Clearwater. No such problem for Scott Rolen. He's been commuting to Dunedin every day from Bradenton, where he owns a home. He should feel nice and rested for once.
Jays take on the Pirates and Canadian Jason Bay at 1:05. Dustin McGowan will get the first three innings, Casey Janssen to follow with three of his own.
Song of the Day: Well, trying to combine a small tip of the hat to the Pirates and another to my colleagues in the press box (I'm heading back to Toronto tomorrow). I've come up with Pittsburgh's favourite anti-establishment Cali-style punk rockers, Anti-Flag and their 'get up, get up and jump around' standard 'The Press Corpse'. Doubters will call these guys a thinking man's Simple Plan. And that's plain cruel. I just dig anyone with self-consciously stupid hair.
Back later with today's live blog of the game.Today's Line-Ups:
1 - Eckstein
2 - Johnson - RF
3 - Stewart - LF
4 - Wells
5 - Rolen
6 - Hill
7 - Scutaro
8 - Barajas - DH
9 - Fasano - C
1 - Nyjer Morgan
2 - Freddy Sanchez
3 - Xavier Nady
4 - Ryan Doumit
5 - Steve Pearce
6 - Jose Bautista
7 - Kevin Thompson
8 - Josh Wilson
9 - Jorge Velandia
SP: Tom Gorzelanny
I also offer you this, a sort of outtake from my interview with Adam Lind that ran in today's Star.
Lind's one of my favourite Jays. He’s soft-spoken, but he’s deadly honest and he doesn’t speak in clichés. Once he gets going, he’s got a lot to say about the game. As a guy covering this beat, you love a player who’s going to teach you something, who’ll talk down to you (and I mean that in a good way).
The Jays are stacked with character young guys – Lind, Curtis Thigpen, Casey Janssen, David Purcey, Aaron Hill, Travis Snider, Brian Wolfe and the list does go on. The ones I've named here stand out to me on a purely subjective basis. Some of them are starting, some of them are waiting in the wings, but the fact that so many of them have old heads on their shoulders bodes, I think, really well for this team going forward.
Back to Lind. As you might expect, most of what we discussed concerned his hitting. He pointed out that, quite rightly, he had a rough year, but it translated into some decent numbers. In 290 at-bats, he managed 11 home runs and 46 RBIs. Double that and you have a pro-rated season with 20+ homers and 90+ RBIs.
“Enough to keep a guy around (the big leagues),” Lind said. Point taken.
Lind’s not making excuses. He’s pointing out that the early reviews aren’t off. He is a guy who will have a big league career. The jury’s still out on whether it will be in Toronto. If the Jays are serious about giving Alex Rios a long-term deal and Travis Snider keeps up his headlong run to the Show, Lind may end up as a bargaining chip.
What I couldn’t fit in the paper was Lind talking about his defence. And this is something Lind really wants to talk about.
“Coaches have spent a lot of time with me. Whoever doubts me, I assume it’s the reporters. Nothing against you,” Lind said. I guess they grow them super-polite in Indiana.
“You could probably play outfield for a week and get by. But when you play every day, you get a lot of weird balls hit to you.”
So he’s worked at it, long hours over four years in the Florida sun spent fielding balls knocked off a tee.
“(My coaches) said, ‘Don’t even worry about the game. Worry about this’,” Lind remembered. “When you get called up, they can deal with you not hitting. But if you don’t play good defence, you’re done. That’s what happened last year. I didn’t hit real well, but the defence was what allowed me to stay up there as long as I did.”