Griffin: Blue Jays notes Game 21
DUNEDIN, FLA.-In a crisply played Thursday afternoon affair against the visiting Phillies and their outstanding lefthander Cliff Lee, the Blue Jays upped their spring training record to 16-4-1, with a 2-0 victory at the park formerly known as Dunedin Stadium. The 16 wins equals last year's victory total under then-rookie manager John Farrell and is within five of the all-time franchise record of 21 set in 1989 under Jimy Williams.
Jays' righthander Brandon Morrow pitched five shutout innings, allowing one hit, with two walks and one strikeout. He faced two batters over the minimum.
"I think more than anything, he's taken this spring training to go out and pitch, quote-unquote, rather than just go out and throw the baseball," manager John Farrell said. "He's been able to do a number of things, especially with his off-speed stuff. It's very positive that he's not just relying on sheer power, with a hard fastball, hard cutter."
Second baseman Kelly Johnson banged out three hits from the leadoff positon, flipped in the batting order for the second straight time with shortstop Yunel Escobar. Farrell suggested that it was a spring training experiment.
"Taking a look," Farrell said. "Both have hit at the top of the order for the vast majority of their career. Just felt like Yunel has the ability to hit the hole over there a little bit more. Kelly's not a dead pull hitter, where he's going to use the whole field a little bit more. It's just a couple of game look. Can't say that that's going to be reflected on Opening Day."
Jose Bautista manufactured a run in the fourth inning. He led off with a line drive off the left field wall, beating the throw to second with a slide to the centre field said of the bag. He stole third, then scored on a slow bouncer through the right side by Adam Lind.
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The Brett Lawrie injury update on the tightness in his left groin. Sure, it's seemingly redundant but the question needs to be asked.
“We'll increase his baseball activity today, particularly with a little bit more lateral work," manager John Farrell said in the morning. "He's not in the lineup today and right now we'll push that back until Saturday at the earliest.
"He continues to be improved every day, but consistent with what we've stated about him, we're going to err on the side of caution and he's making steady progress. It isn't because of a setback in any way. It's just a gradual ramping up of the activities and being sure that any discomfort, which there is none right now, we just want to make sure that we take him through the appropriate progressions. He ran Wednesday. Five times at 90 feet with no problem. That will continue today including the additional work groundball wise, laterally. But there's been no restrictions swinging the bat, so we're very confident that he's going to be fine. But, we're just taking our time with him."
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It's about that time in spring training, where the Jays' regulars will start to see daily action in preparation for opening day. No more avoiding bus rides for the veterans.
“Actually, we'll probably look to get the regulars in there today and tomorrow," manager John Farrell said before the game. "Saturday being a day game after a night game, we'll probably change things up a little bit, but yeah, we went through this week purposely trying to give a little bit more space, rest, but in these last 10 days that will become a little bit more regular."
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The fate of invited veteran infielder Omar Vizquel may have inadvertently been revealed by GM Alex Anthopoulos. The GM was asked if the club would wait until the last minute to let the 44-year-old future Hall-of-Fame candidate know his fate. Anthopoulos said that out of respect, because there was no firm date, they would let him know in timely fashion.
“We're not going to take things down to the wire if we don't need to," Anthopoulos said. "When we've made a decision and we know for certain, we don't need to see him play anymore and the decision's set no matter how they play the next day or the day after, we'll advise, we'll tell the players at that point. It's only fair to them."
Anthopoulos is a stickler for the rules and under the new CBA, with a veteran like Vizquel, the new rule is the club must let said player know five days before the opener -- March 30 -- that he is being released or else they owe him a large sum of money. If they had planned on releasing Vizquel, Anthopoulos would have been aware of that regulation. I've been wrong before, but Vizquel must be considered the frontrunner for the utility role.