Jesse Litsch had a breakout year with the Blue Jays in just his first full season in pro baseball,…
2/22: Spring Training News and Notes
--Veteran right-hander Pete Walker, who had season-ending rotator cuff surgery last summer, was signed to a minor league contract that includes an invitation to spring training. Walker, who has been used as a spot starter and in long relief in his tenure with the Jays, faces an uphill battle to claim the seventh and final spot in the team's bullpen. Last year in 23 appearances, Walker, 37, was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA.
--The biggest issue facing manager John Gibbons this season will be his starting rotation, headed by Roy Halladay, A.J. Burnett and Gustavo Chacin. Free agents John Thomson and Tomo Ohka as well as Josh Towers and Shaun Marcum will be battling for the final two spots.
"We've just got to line up our rotation -- the tail end of our rotation -- and see how that all shakes up," Gibbons said.
--Even though the first full-squad workout isn't scheduled until Feb. 22 at Dunedin, Fla., a number of players already have arrived in camp, including CF Vernon Wells, C Gregg Zaun, INF Russ Adams, C Sal Fasano, RF Alex Rios, 2B Aaron Hill and SS John McDonald.
--One of the goals of manager John Gibbons this season is to try to limit closer B.J. Ryan to one inning whenever possible. Last season Ryan had 13 saves in which he pitched more than one inning, tops in the major leagues.
"I don't think we worked Ryan too much," Gibbons said. "We worked him too much in multi-inning situations. We want to shy away from that."
--LF Reed Johnson is entering his fifth season with the Jays, but 2007 will mark his first season as an everyday player. Over the last four seasons he was part of a platoon, chiefly with Frank Catalanotto, who signed as a free agent with Texas.
"Going into this year we're a little more locked in on positions," manager John Gibbons said of his lineup. "We no longer have a platoon in left or right (Alex Rios)."
BY THE NUMBERS: 2000 -- The last year the Jays had a DH hit 30 home runs and drive in 100-plus runs. Brad Fullmer hit 32 home runs and knocked in 104 runs that season. They're hoping newcomer Frank Thomas can surpass those numbers this year.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "All it does is strengthen us and lets us strike a little more fear into teams." -- Jays manager John Gibbons on what the addition of DH Frank Thomas means to his lineup.
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