Griffin: Farrell offers fans intriguing glimpse of future
PHOENIX-The Jays had seemed intent on slow-playing their future when they headed out on a road trip to play nine inter-league games in three cities, but after being swept by the Braves the fornt-office frustration of a punchless offence may have caused them to accelerate some of their moves. On the off-day they moved Jose Bautista to third base and brought up outfielder Eric Thames. The changes had to be made.
“Personally, taking a step back from that Atlanta series, they really pitched,” manager John Farrell said. “We were feeling some frustration at the time. We were coming off a good series in Cincinnati, swinging the bats well and they shut us down.
“There were moves in the offing that, I don't want to say were scheduled for certain days. We had an eye on moves that we felt were going to take place at some point in the near future. That might have helped that move at the time. Thames, for one, coming back and once Travis Snider got past the concussion, because he was showing the adjustments and taking them into the game.”
The Jays have one more move to make as soon as is humanly and health-wise possible in terms of position players when 21-year-old third baseman Brett Lawrie returns to form. They had been planning on bringing him up, but like the misguided Atlanta situation, were confident they could manipulate the timing of the promotion. It cost them dearly as Lawrie was hit on the hand in a Triple-A game and set back a month.
“From a position player standpoint, anytime you add a player of the talent of Brett Lawrie, assuming he's back to the timing that he showed and the performance prior to the hand injury, that's an exciting youg player to add to the team,” Farrell said. “When he comes, he's going to be an everyday guy. You look at the young, athletic type of player that we talked about, that gives us additional speed, it gives us explosiveness, maybe a little bit more of a glimpse into what is just around the corner from a position standpoint, but we have to continue to make strides on the mound.”
The other glimpse of the future that Farrell wants to see more of is the glimpse of a full Rogers Centre that he observed during the energized Phillies series on the Canada Day weekend with Roy Halladay back in town. The first-year manager believes that those fans bought into what the Jays will have moving forward.
“I would hope that people came away from that series, even thugh it was a series won by Philadelphia, knowing that we played a pretty good brand of baseball,” Farrell said. “Not only competitive, but I think a spirited brand. I think there was a feeling as you walked away from the ballpark – even we felt it – that the way we came back in game three, because we had every ability – if a game was to be mailed in, that might have been it. In the first four innings, we were kind of looking like that and yet Rajai, a couple of stolen bases and we were a couple of runs away. Then we catch fire and take the game. That is a glimpse of what people might see.”
The Jays have 70 games remaining in the season, starting with a four game weekend set against the Yankees, a chance for some good, enthusiastic crowds, who will be coming off the feel-good experience of watching Jose Bautista and Ricky Romero at the All-Star Game. The Jays may not end up contending for the post-season but what fans will see is a team that has turned younger and more exciting since the torching in Atlanta.
“There's a number of different ways this team can score runs and come back on people,” Farrell said. “That day (against Cliff Lee) was a clear indication. There was speed to chip away, then there was three home runs late in a game we won.”
Lawrie, the native of Langley, B.C., has been cleared days ago to take batting practice after progressing from hitting off a tee to soft toss. That recent clearance of the prized youngster is another step in his rehab, but there is no indication yet when he will get into some minor league games. But it's all just a stop on his inevitable road to Toronto. This time they won't slow play him to manipulate service time.