Griffin: Blue Jays notes Game 18
DUNEDIN, FLA.-The Blue Jays on Sunday defeated the Phillies 10-2 at the stadium formerly known as Grant Field in their first televised game of the spring, running the club's impressive Grapefruit League record to 13-4-1. They pummeled lefty Cole Hamels for five runs and eight hits in 3-1/3 innings. Monday is a day off for the entire team, except for young starter Henderson Alvarez who will travel the short distance to the Mattick Centre to pitch five innings in a Triple-A game.
Brett Cecil allowed one run in four innings as he gets used to his new trimmer body, having lost 32 lbs. in the off-season. He has allowed just one run in 10 innings this spring, on six hits, with three walks and six strikeouts, despite a fastball that checks in generally at between 86-88 m.p.h. He is comfortable with all aspects of his new physicality.
"As far as the body, I'm even better than I wanted to be," Cecil said. "Body condition and all that is good. As far as the arm is, it's good. As long as everything feels good, I'm happy. There's going to come a point in, who knows what game, that it's not always going to be there and that's where the hard work starts on the mound. I've worked hard in the off-season to go 10 innings. Most pitchers want to get to 6-7 innings, well I've trained to do 10. Given the weight I've shed, it's not putting as much strain on my shoulder.
"In my mind, I don't care what the velocity is. I don't think velocity is what makes good pitchers. Obviously velocity helps you get away with mistakes but it all comes down to what I feel is 100-percent location."
Non-roster catcher Yan Gomes led the way with three hits, including a pair of doubles and three RBIs. The 24-year-old native of Brazil, who attended high school in Miami, played at AA-New Hampshire last year and has been impressive in his first major-league camp, with seven hits and four RBIs in 14 at-bats.
Shortstop Yunel Escobar was 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles. Centre fielder Rajai Davis and DH Ben Francisco had two hits each. Jose Bautista, getting more of his offensive timing back daily, slammed a monster homer off of David Herndon. It was his third this spring.
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Injured third baseman Brett Lawrie continued treatment for tightness in his left groin and did not go out on the field Sunday. He injured the groin on Friday and is out at least through Tuesday when the Jays travel to Fort Myers for a night game.
“It's still a treatment day for him,” Jays' manager John Farrell said. “He'll come in on the off day for treatment as well. But there's improvement being made. We're going to be sure that there's nothing lingering there. It's still day-to-day, but we don't think it will be an extended issue either.”
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The Jays cut five more players from major-league camp on Sunday. The club optioned catcher Travis D'Arnaud and first baseman Mike McDade and assigned catcher A.J. Jimenez and pitchers Deck McGuire and Jerry Gil to minor-league camp. The number of players still in major-league camp now stands at 41.
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Utility man Mike McCoy has been the subject of benign neglect when it come to a chance in the middle infield thus far. He has not had the chance to prove himself with the presence of Omar Vizquel, Adeiny Hechavarria and the younger version of himself, Jonathan Diaz. But on Sunday he was pencilled in at second base vs. the Phillies.
“Well, we wanted to get looks at other guys," manager John Farrell said. "Certainly when Hech was here, he took a number of those reps away from Mac. He's slated to go at second on Wednesday at Baltimore. With the second half of this game schedule coming upon us, his rotation in the middle of the infield will become more frequent."
McCoy executed a perfect safety squeeze for a base-hit and is batting .217 for the spring while playing three infield and three outfield positions.
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Catcher J.P. Arencibia did not play in the Jays' game at the stadium formerly known as Grant Field. Instead he traveled to minor-league camp to catch Darren Oliver for his three innings of work. Arencibia has been swing the bat much better in the past 10 days and has impressed his manager. Farrell was asked if Arencibia has been playing with an edge from the competition in camp or from the lack of respect from national baseball media.
“I haven't perceived any edge because of competition," John Farrell said. "That doesn't mean J.P.'s taken for granted anything in his own right. I think J.P.'s a confident person. I think J.P. believes in himself and he believes he's going to be here for a long time. If Travis D'Arnaud forces the issue, we want as many good players as we can regardless if they're duplicates at a position. We'll take every real good player.
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Pror to Brett Cecil facing the Phillies on Sunday, Jays' manager John Farrell was asked if perhaps winning 15 games in 2010 and leading the staff in victories, while carrying the extra weight and with less-than-he-may-have-needed core strength may have introduced a false sense of security to the 26-year-old lefthander.
“Given the way the year evolved, there needed to be a counter-adjustment made," Farrell said of Cecil's disappointing follow-up 2011. "Whether that was being too comfortable, thinking it was going to happen more readily, he's making the necessary adjustments to maintain the focus and the concentration. He carries himself in a different way right now and that's not just visibly. There's a feeling of a lot more determination. There's a feeling of a lot more attention to detail. I think when you change your own personal habits, those have a tendency to spill over into other areas of your game."