Spring Training: Pitchers and catchers report

Greetings from the Sunshine State where the Blue Jays pitchers and catchers officially reported for their physicals on Tuesday evening. They’ll be joined on Friday by the position players with the first full squad workout taking place the following day. 

To get you started, make sure to check out my article on Toronto’s new closer Sergio Santos and there’s also an article on the start of Spring Training with quotes from Ricky Romero and John Farrell. Below, I’ve also included a lot of leftover items from Farrell will be expanded upon in coming days but the nuts and bolds can be found below.

Also, don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter @gregorMLB. I will be posting pictures from Spring Training every morning and will also provide news throughout the day when it becomes available. 

On the competition in left field…

“I thought that the way Eric came up last year and handled himself offensively, he hits with a lot of confidence, he believes in himself when he’s in the batter’s box. Thought he worked extremely hard and improved his defense, which is still an area where there is some development left.

“Yet, Travis Snider, who is probably a stronger defender right now, the consistency, the production, the swing and how he maintains that swing is really how we’re going to continue to monitor in Travis’ case. But it will be a head up competition in camp.”

On Snider’s chances…

“There has been some references to time running out and I would dispute that emphatically. He is a talented player, has a multi skill set. We want the best player in that position, and as Travis has come up and done very well, it has been the consistency of that production that has been a little elusive and that has been the course of three different times that has taken place. So, he’s well aware, as is Eric, of the situation that he comes into and it will be a battle.

“We’ll make the decision on which player makes us the best team. While they’re not the same, we’re going to factor in what each player can do individually and what gives us the best 25-man roster when we break and go north.”

On McCoy’s versatility…

“His versatility is a plus, there’s no question about it, but we also look at what Omar can bring to us. His veteran leadership, his mentoring ability, I don’t want to play on that too heavily because he’s still a player with a lot of talent and as I said we’ll get into that as we get into Spring Training.”

On Vizquel’s defense at SS…

“The one thing that you look at over time — and you read the reports and get evaluations of other people — he has had a long career as a shortstop. Whether the arm strength is as good as it was a few years ago, might not exactly be the case, but you can also look at an alignment with Lawrie at third who has tremendous range that can cover up the six hole a little bit more than the average third baseman. That takes away from some of the concern that might be there with the throw coming out of the hole at shortstop.”

On starting staff…

“We’re confident in the guys that are here … We know that we’ve got to get a greater number of quality innings pitched by that three, four, five slot. If guys hadn’t had success previously it would leave a little bit more in question but the fact that you have Cecil, who has been a 15-game winner, the way Dustin is throwing the ball in the early, going on top of the way he finished out last year, he we all feel will continue to improve and get better. Henderson did an outstanding job in the time that he was here, the 10 starts that he made.

“What our focus and emphasis will be in camp is to create a much mor clear mindset that the our starters intent is to go deeper into the game. That stems from their physical work, that stems from being efficent and attacking the zone … We’ve got the people here that we feel like will make up the difference — and I refer to that 10-game difference in the standings — and that’s going to primarily come from an improved starting rotation.”

On Cecil losing 32 pounds during the offseason…

“It speaks volumes and he is to be commended for it. We sat down and had some very candid conversations with him at the end of the season. He was well aware of it, he wasn’t pleased with the way things went last year and to his credit, he went out and made the committment from a body composition standpoint to get him in better shape. Whether that transitions into increased velocity we’ll see but I think more importantly his body control and ability to repeat his delivery is where this will really help him.”

On McGowan being treated the same as other SPs…

“Right now, he’s grouped in. For lack of a better term, he has mainstreamed into the routine and the throwing program we’ll go through with every starter. Once we get closer to games, and the intensity as it picks up if he needs — because last year he didn’t throw bullpens between starts — we’ll monitor that. If that is needed to where it’s some flat ground and loss toss rather than throwing off a mound inbetween starts that’s not uncommon for starting pitchers to use that type of routine.

“We know more about him after going through a full year last year. Both from a rehab standpoint and what he did in September. But like any other starting pitcher, regardless of whether it’s Dustin or not we’ll monitor their needs and adjust accordingly.”

“Honestly, he pitched with more velocity in September than I anticipated, or any of us anticipated. Those are all positive signs. Any time a pitcher goes through what he has gone through, you’re going to go through a bit of a learning curve again to pitch effectively with the stuff that you have now versus pre-injury but he’s a smart kid and he’s making the adjustments along the way.”

On how may starters will receive multiple innings this spring…

“We have 10 that we mapped out that will get multiple innings and start when those opportunities arise. Certainly they’re going to have back-to-back outings, or build on top of maybe one of the guys we have penciled in to begin the season in our rotation, but we have a stretch of 10 days where we play three split-squad games and there’s going to be ample innings to get those starters stretched out.” (Note: the 10 are Romero, Morrow, Cecil, Alvarez, McGowan, Laffey, Drabek, McGuire, Hutchison, Jenkins.)

On who bats second…

“The hope is that Kelly Johnson takes that spot and runs with it. We’re still going to try to alternate through the lineup as best we can. If there are matchups that will dictate otherwise then we’ll make that adjustments. Yunel will lead off but I’d like to see Kelly in that two hole.

“He’s had years where has been very good at getting on base. To me, that’s the most important things. Guys that can get on base at a higher rate in front of Bautista, Lind, in front of Lawrie, Encarnacion that’s where we’re looking to build it from.”

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