Notes from First Day in Camp
It's always a tremendous, wonderful day to be alive, the first day of the spring in Dunedin at the Engelbert Complex-slash-Bobby Matrtick Training Centre. That was today.
I walked into the Jays clubhouse and the first guy I saw was a smiling Aaron Hill, looking bright, alert and ready to go. I told him that I knew I was a baseball guy when while watching the Super Bowl pre-game entertainment with Faith Hill and Jennifer Hudson made me think of Hill and Hudson the Jays' two second basemen of this decade.
Casey Janssen was there, ready to rock and roll in whatever job the Jays want him to do. I asked him the anniversary and he immediately knew I was talking about the surgery last March. He was smiling too.
By 9 a.m. this morning everyone was out of the clubhouse, about 25-30 guys in all, with the first official workout not even taking place until Monday. The only major league coach I saw was Brian Butterfield, who was looking for a new hat, because he didn't like the old-school "button" on top of this year's models. Nothing can help that mug. It might even distract people, which is good. The batting cages were busy starting at 8:15 am. These guys are anxious to go.
I saw Curtis Thigpen and said hi sheepishly. I thought he had been let go, but now I remember all it was that he was designated for assignment and he must have cleared waivers and accepted assignment to Syracuse ... I mean Las Vegas. That's going to take getting used to.
Even Shaun Marcum was out on the field throwing with a trainer - probably so his arm would look good by comparison. Shaun is scheduled to miss the entire year, but he was upbeat about the summer scheduled to stay in the Dunedin area. His family will come and join him in March.
Travis Snider was there, looking in great shape. He left his home in Washington state to go train in Arizona for a few weeks because the weather at home sucked. Global warming my ass.
I talked briefly to Canadian starting ace Scott Richmond. I suggested that he would be facing the U.S. in the opening game of the WBC at the Rogers Centre. He said that they had not decided and they might hold him back for the elimination game against Venezuela on Tuesday. The logic there is that you only need to finish Top 2 in the first round and so a 2-1 record is important. If they place emphasis on Italy and Venezuela, that might be the right strategy, although we both agreed it was fun to kick U.S. butt in Phoenix three years ago.
I asked Dustin McGowan if he was still looking at a May return to the rotation. "Hopefully," he said.
I'm now sitting in JJ Conch's Island Grill having lunch. The wireless is good. The weather's great.