Griffin: Blue Jays notes Game 24
DUNEDIN, FLA.-The Jays' magical spring continued as they overcame an early three-run deficit to beat the Red Sox 6-5 in 10 innings. The winning run came on a bases-loaded single by minor-league outfielder Ricardo Nanita. The Jays ran their spring record to 19-4-1, second highest win total in 36 years of Grapefruit League play.
The Jays received a scare in the sixth inning when Jose Bautista was hit on the right hand by a Daniel Bard fastball. The Jays' slugger spun away from the mid-90s heater, as it deflected off his hand, then his helmet. He slammed his helmet to the ground and started to first base before being called back to the plate by umpire Travis Carlson who ruled it a foul ball. An irate Bautista removed his batting glove and was in the umpire's face, but retrieved his helmet and angrily resumed his spot in the batter's box. However first base umpire Mark Carlson entered the picture and awarded Bautista first base.
“Unfortunately, he did get clipped and I think we were fortunate to avoid something there," manager John Farrell said. "He took the glancing pitch off the thumb and the index finger on a pitch that just got away from Bard. But fortunately the x-rays were negative and there's a little bit of swelling, but he should be fine."
Bard had hit Brett Lawrie at the Rogers Centre last September, one of four Jays that were drilled in that game, including Bautista...although that was by a Tim Wakefield knuckleball.
First baseman Adam Lind continued his hot streak. He homered in the second inning off Bard, then doubled to left and walked. In his last six plate appearances, Lind has two homers, a triple, a double and two bases-on-balls, raising his average to .306.
Edwin Encarnacion had two hits and a double, while Rajai Davis stole two bases, had two hits, including a bunt single and was thrown out at the plate on a squeeze bunt.
The Jays have an off-day on Monday, with Ricky Romero slated to throw six innings in a minor league game at the stadium formerly known as Grant Field.
* * * * * *
The Jays reduced the roster of players in major-league camp to 30, sending out non-roster infielders Jonathan Diaz and Chris Woodward and catcher Yan Gomes. In addition, they optioned left fielder Travis Snider and first baseman David Cooper to AAA-Las Vegas.
The Jays have 15 pitchers, two catchers, five outfielders and eight infielders remaining in camp. There are three non-roster players, including pitchers Aaron Laffey and Drew Hutchison and infielder Omar Vizquel, who is expected to earn the utility role.
* * * * * *
GM Alex Anthopoulos confirmed that the 40-man roster stands at 39, leaving room if the Jays wanted to add Omar Vizquel before Friday, but the GM explained that the move to pass Rick VandenHurk through waivers was not designed to clear a spot, but was a favour to the player to give him an opportunity to find another major-league organization.
"People tried to speculate the roster, that we made a move with VandenHurk, that was pre-emptive to clear a spot, that was strictly we promised Rick VandenHurk when we brought him in if we knew sooner, rather than later, because he was out of options, that he wasn't going to make the team, we'd give him a chance to get to somebody else's camp with as much time remaining as we could," Anthopoulos explained.
"After his last outing there was too many guys in front of him to make the team. I pulled him in, talked to his agent, told him we could go a lot of routes. We let him know that maybe this was the time to put him on outright waivers. That was the reason for the timing. Under normal circumstances we would have carried it to the end."
* * * * * *
Lefthander Aaron Laffey did not have a great outing against the Red Sox, but it was nt the pressure of competing for a spot that bothered him. The former Indian, Yankee and Mariner explained how he obtained his sense of tunnel vision to the goal.
“From the time I broke in I've been coming into the season every year battling for a job, fighting for a job," he said. "Starting all the way back in '08, I was competing for a job against Cliff Lee and then he goes off and wins the Cy Young.
"Injuries happen.They occur, they're part of the game and guys underperfrom and that's the nature of the beast. So, every year since '08, every spring I'm battling for a job, fighting for a job, so it kind of comes as second nature to be able to have that tunnel vision. It kind of developed over time, just coming in every year. I can't worry about what everybody else is doing, how they're going abut their business, because if I worry about what they're doing or not doing, I'm not putting enough attention and focus on myself."
* * * * * *
Manager John Farrell was happy to see Brett Lawrie back at third base after a week off with tightness in his left groin. Farrell laughed at the intensity of his third baseman who was upset with himself for grounding into a double play with two men on, excusing it for having been sidelined for a week.
“He was aggressive through his baserunning drills yesterday," Farrell explained of picking the date for his return. "In his mind, he felt like he was ready to go. With the off-day coming, there' a natural built-in rest period as well."
* * * * * *
In a nice story from spring training, the first pitch on Sunday was thrown out by a gentleman named Steve Kanyar, from Burlington, Ontario.
Mr. Kanyar was in Florida with the annual Toronto Star spring training tour, but his throwing the first pitch was a lifelong dream. He is a cancer patient and it was part of the Make-a-Wish campaign.
Mr. Kanyar fled Hungary across the border into Austria in 1958. He emigrated to Canada and fell in love with baseball when the Blue Jays were formed in 1977. He was at the April 7, 1977 opener and, later, was offered a huge sum for his Game 6 of the '93 World Series tickets, but held on to them and witnessed Joe Carter's "touch 'em all" moment.
On Sunday he was surrounded on the field by the Jays players, with the first pitch caught by Kyle Drabek who he had met on Friday at a reception on Clearwater Beach. It's one of those nice spring training stories.