Camp Quotebook: Lydon, Gronkiewicz Sparkle

Lydon has generated more power

DUNEDIN- Split-squad games usually mean that players from the minor league camp will be given an opportunity to play in a major league game. Wayne Lydon, and Lee Gronkiewicz, two non-roster invitees had superb performances, and impressed the Blue Jays organization with their games. In today's edition of the Camp Notebook, InsideTheDome talked to Lydon, Gronkiewicz, and also to Ryan Patterson, who also made his debut on Friday.

Lee Gronkiewicz was pitching as a member of the Blue Jays "B" team on Friday, but he certainly faced an "A" lineup when he came in the bottom of the fourth inning. The first batter that he faced, in his first major league spring training game, was All-Star Aubrey Huff.

"I knees were definitely shaking," Gronkiewicz told InsideTheDome following the game. "I wasn't intimidated, but I knew I wanted to get ahead of him."

Getting ahead of Huff, a career .288 hitter, is not easy, but Gronkiewicz trusted his catcher, Jason Phillips to call the pitches.

"The first pitch I threw him was a changeup," Gronkiewicz recalled. "I didn't really have a game plan."

Gronkiewicz did something right, because he got the D-Rays most dangerous hitter to ground back to the pitchers mound. After allowing a single to Jonny Gomes, it didn't get easier for the right-hander, who faced major leaguers Travis Lee and Toby Hall.

Gronkiewicz got the job done, however, getting Lee to ground out to the mound, and Hall to fly out to center field.

"I have no idea how much longer I will remain at the major league camp, but my arm is feeling very good," the right-hander said. "I hope to continue pitching well."

Back in Dunedin, Wayne Lydon started in center field against Team Canada. Lydon, one of the fastest players in professional baseball, used his speed to help generate a run in the fourth inning. After drawing a one out walk, Lydon stole second base, and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Lydon scored the same at bat when Russ Adams drove him in with a single.

"The coaches know how aggressive I am on the base paths," Lydon said. "I hope they will turn me loose and let me run."

Lydon realizes the organization does not prefer the stolen base, but hopes the organization will trust his career stealing percentage, which is at 80 percent.

Lydon continued to sparkle the following inning, but this time he didn't need his speed. After Adam Lind drew a two-out walk, Lydon blasted a ball over the right field wall for a two-run homer.

"I was watching the pitcher earlier in the inning, and saw he was throwing hard," said Lydon. "It was a good chance for me to make a good first impression."

Lydon spent the tail end of the 2005 season, and the off-season working on his hitting, and believes he can be considered a hitter with some power in his bat. Despite his successful first game, the outfielder realizes his chances of breaking camp with Toronto are not strong.

"There are a lot of bodies, with more experience than me right now," the outfielder said. "I have thought about it, but I can only control the way I play. If I make a good impression in camp, and continue the season strong, then my chances of getting called up increase."

"My chances of breaking camp with Toronto are not strong."

While Lydon and Gronkiewicz were trying to impress the organization, some of the younger players in the farm system were just thrilled with the opportunity to play in a major league game. Ryan Patterson, Adam Lind, Carlo Cota, Sean Shoffit, Joey Metropoulos, Chris Gutierrez, Christian Snavely, Aaron Mathews, Zach Kalter, Brad Hassey, John Hattig, were taken out of minor league camp to play in the games today.

"It was an unbelievable experience," said Ryan Patterson who went 1-for-2 Friday. "Just being around that environment was awesome. Even if I didn't get to play, I would have been happy."

Patterson knows there are more split squad games on the schedule, and hopes he gets another chance like this.

"I am ready for the season," the outfielder said. "I gained weight, worked on my hitting, but also am mentally ready for the long season, and believe the added weight will help my durability."

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