The Blue Jays'spring juggernaut on Friday continued to have its way with Grapefruit League opposition. Playing at the stadium formerly known as Grant Field, the Jays shut out the division-rival Rays 5-0, running their spring record to 12-2-1. The Jays are undefeated in 11 straight games and have won 10 straight decisions. They play a split squad on Saturday, with Brandon Morrow facing the Phillies in Clearwater and rookie Drew Hutchison taking on the Braves at Disney World.
Ricky Romero on Friday tossed four no-hit innings. He walked leadoff man Desmond Jennings twice, throwing just 29 strikes in 51 pitches on the day. Despite not being happy with his command, Romero was happy with the result of his third start of the spring.
"There's nothing you can do about it sometimes but just keep pitching, not let it get to you," Romero said. "I made some good pitches when I had to. Obviously I'm not happy about walks and throwing a lot of ball, but it happens. You can't be perfect every time."
Romero has now tossed nine innings of two-hit ball, with two walks and eight strikeouts. He was not even happy with the way he warmed up, but having more than two quality major-league pitches in your repertoire always helps on those days.
"It's just great to have different weapons and that's why you continue to work on different weapons every year," Romero said. "The cutter's been a pitch for me that from last year to this year has been big for me, especially behind in the count. You try to do different stuff with it and it's worked out for me."
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Jays' third baseman Brett Lawrie had an eventful trip around the bases in the second inning on Friday. He exploded out of the box facing Rays' righthander Jeff Niemann and legged out an infield hit that was fielded behind the bag at second base by Ben Zobrist. Then Jose Molina tried to pick him off as he slid hard back into first base. Lawrie stole second and then ran hard around third to score on a single to left by J.P. Arencibia.
A half inning later after playing the field, Lawrie pulled himself from the game with tightness in his left groin. He is listed as day-to-day.
"It just happened when I was coming around third, about halfway home, something just triggered that I went, hey, just heads up on it," Lawrie recalled afterwards. "It's the right thing to do. We're almost to the season and we're not in the World Series right now. It's just time to work in getting it better."
The hit raised Lawrie's batting average to .609 with 14 hits in 23 at-bats. He has six doubles, a triple and five steals.
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The Jays made two roster moves prior to the game and one more afterwards, reducing the number of players still in major-league camp to 46. In the morning they sent lefthander Evan Crawford and righthander Joel Carreno to the Mattick complex. After the game, it was righthander Chad Jenkins, who worked three shutout innings vs. the Rays.
Manager John Farrell was asked if Carreno was going back to the minors to stretch out his innings and return to someone's starting rotation when the affiliate seasons start.
“He's been getting two innings here, but as our projected guys that are competing for our rotation are starting to get into their fourth and fifth innings of work, those innings for him are starting to dry up and we do want to lengthen him out as a starter," Farrell said.
Crawford has impressed Farrell with his three appearances adding up to four shutout innings. he had aggressive approach, able to retire both righthanders and lefthanders.
Meanwhile, Jenkins, the club's first round draft pick in 2009 has accomplished what he came to camp for. He needed to impress the staff in order to gain a spot in the future plans for the season and beyond if starters are required due to disablement or poor performance. He allowed just one run in his eight innings, with no walks and eight Ks. His advantage is that at the end of the season, as a three-year professional out of college, the Jays must protect him on the 40-man roster.
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There has been some concern that maybe Sergio Santos was nursing an injury because he had not pitched since March 7. Actually the opposite is true. According to manager John Farrell, Santos came to camp so ready to pitch, they have tried to slow him down.
"Santos we've worked in some bullpens on the side, particularly with his changeup, getting him some added work with that," Farrell explained. "He came into camp in such good shape and was throwing the ball almost in mid-season intensity and physically was in great shape. We felt there was the opportunity to slow him down a little bit and spend some quality time working on his changeup."
That's an unusual explanation for recent major-league inactivity you don't hear every day.