Coming into spring training places on the Jays major league active roster were as set as they had ever been, with only the final spot missing an obvious favourite to claim it. Would the Jays carry a 12th pitcher, or the extra bench player? Over the last few days we have seen some unanticipated shuffling, such that the roster now has a few surprises. The Jays traded Jayson Werth to the Dodgers for minor league reliever Jason Frasor, and then claimed Sean Douglass off waivers from the Twins. Werth's exit confirmed Simon Pond won a spot on the roster, and Douglass takes another. To make room, Bob File will start the season on the DL, and the Jays had to sneak Justin Miller through waivers to assign him to Syracuse.OFFICIAL TORONTO BLUE JAYS ROSTER
The trade of Werth is rather unimpressive, though not monumental either way. Despite his poor season last year, Werth has power potential and a history of decent strikezone command. His place on the team seemed assured in large part because he was out of options, and thus could not be assigned to Syracuse without first passing through waivers. Frasor throws the ball hard and did put up impressive numbers last year – 81 strikeouts in 61 innings, 2.51 ERA - but he is 26 years old and has never pitched above AA. That's not a particularly impressive haul for a young player who was expected to make your team. One can only conclude the Jays have soured on Werth and were going to give his roster spot to Pond anyway. The most curious part is that the Jays now have no formal 4th outfielder on the roster. Pond has spent some time in the outfield during spring training, and Dave Berg will likely see some time there as well to spell Frank Catalanotto against left handed pitchers.
The positive spin on this is that the Jays' brass must feel confident about Gabe Gross or Alexis Rios stepping in should a starter go down with injury, as over an extended stretch there is nobody else to do the job. On the downside, they obviously feel the need to carry the 12th pitcher, and went so far as to bring in Douglass who can start as well as handle long relief. The Jays have several off days in early April, and won't need a 5th starter until the 17th, so with 12 pitchers one has to wonder how they will all get work. I guess an end to Tosca's multiple pitching moves in one inning is too much to ask, even with the upgraded bullpen. However, with Ted Lily behind schedule due to an early wrist injury, neither File nor Miller deemed ready to start the year in Toronto and the likes of Pat Hentgen and Aquilino Lopez having subpar performances of late, the move may be prudent. It should come as no surprise to anyone that the Jays fortunes will depend on how their new arms can perform. And don't be surprised to see a SkyChief outfielder join the team sooner rather than later.
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Spencer Fordin notes that Orlando Hudson has been limited with a muscle strain.
"He felt it turning some double plays, and we wanted to err on the side of caution," Manager Carlos Tosca said. "Where it is, those are the muscles used a lot in hitting and throwing. That's why we've had to completely shut him down."
While Hudson is expected to play tomorrow, if this injury forces him to miss any time it would only make the decision to carry a 12th pitcher even more curious.
Richard Griffin interviewed J.P. Ricciardi this past week. One of the more interesting comments by J.P. came when he was asked about being able to go get a more expensive player should the Jays find themselves in contention. J.P. suggested an abundance of prospects would make this possible, from a baseball perspective, but when Griffin asked if Rogers would "understand" (read: increase payroll for) such a deal, J.P. responded, "I don't know if they understand it."
This is not the first time J.P. has made such a comment this spring. Is he trying to subtly up the pressure on Rogers to commit to winning? Rogers has always tried to imply the payroll might go up if the team is close to winning. Does J.P. know something we don't? This is of course only idle speculation at this point, but it is interesting to note they way J.P. of late seems to be distancing himself from ownership, whereas they once spoke in unison about following "the plan."
While we worry about Hudson and Carlos Delgado ailing already, Griffin reports that Jays third base coach Brian Butterfield had an injury of his own.
"I didn't feel anything at any point while I was working out or out on the field," Butterfield said. "I did feel something one day while swinging the fungo bat. That's when I figured I'd better get checked."
A herniated groin turned out to be the culprit, but Butterfield will be fine.
At the bottom of Mike Rutsey's column, he mentions the Jays might have interest in reacquiring catcher Tom Wilson, who was claimed by the Padres this winter off waivers, but has now been released by the team. He would serve a useful role as insurance should Kevin Cash or Greg Myers suffer injury, and could provided an experienced role model for young Guillermo Quiroz in Syracuse, where Wilson would surely start the season if he returns.
Starting with the season opener, Rogers Sportsnet will produce 35 Blue Jay games this season in high definition television.
This Week in Blue Jay History
2003 – Eric Hinske was ejected from the game, the first time in his career, in a game against the Minnesota Twins.
1981 – The Blue Jays trade RHP Charlie Puleo to the New York Mets for RHP Mark Bomback.
1988 – Goerge Bell ties a Blue Jay record with 5 hits in one game against the Kansas City Royals.
1995 – The Blue Jays trade IF Anthony Medrano, RHP David Sinnes, and IF Chris Stynes to the Kansas City Royals for RHP David Cone.
1977 – Al Woods hits a pinch hit home run in his first career major league AB, becoming the 11th player ever to do so.
1999 - Roy Halladay recorded his first and only major league save against the Minnesota Twins.
Former Blue Jay Pete Walker's birthday.
1994 – Devon White ties a Blue Jay record with 2 triples in one game against the Seattle Mariners.
2003 – Orlando Hudson sets a career high with 3 runs scored against the Boston Red Sox.
2000 – Valerio De Los Santos gave up a career high 8 runs, 9 hits, and 5 HR pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers against the St. Louis Cardinals.
2003 – Vernon Wells hits hit first career grand slam against the Boston Red Sox
1992 - Pat Hentgen records his fist major league win against the Baltimore Orioles.
2000 – Pat Hentgen records his 1000th career strikeout against the Houston Astros as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals.
1992 - Miguel Batista made his major league debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Philadelphia Phillies.
1994 – Carlos Delgado has his first career multi home run game with two against the Oakland Athletics.
2002 – Carlos Delgado plays in career game 1000.