Blue Jays’ first full squad workout

The Blue Jays went through their first full squad workout on Saturday afternoon at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. The full scoop on today’s events plus an injury update on right-hander Carlos Villanueva can be found in today’s notebook.

Also on the main Blue Jays’ site, there is a feature on Alex Anthopoulos believing this is the best team he has put together during his time as general manager. There is a growing sense that this team  will compete late into the season and while there are still plenty of question marks that remain a lot of veterans on the down sides of their career have been replaced with an emerging young core of talent which should bode well in the future. I’ll link to the article here when it goes live on the site.

Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @gregorMLB as I’m posting daily pictures and various Spring Training tidbits from Blue Jays’ camp. In the meantime, here’s a transcript of an interview with Ricky Romero for your reading pleasure.

Working on anything different this spring?

“Planning on working on refining the cutter a little better this year and kind of learning how to pitch with it. Backdoor side to the frontdoor side, stuff like that, so that’s where my focus is coming into the spring. I already talked to Papi (Blue Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton) about it and we’re on board and obviously you always want to clean up your mechanics and shake that rust off. Other than that just have a healthy spring and go from there.”

What did you learn during your first season as a No. 1 starter?

“I think you’re kind of looked at as the leader of the staff, and I felt like the way I went out there and led by example, I did a pretty decent job of it. I was proud of that and obviously now having Brandon, Dustin, Cecil and Henderson on board and all the guys fighting for spots I think they kind of saw what happened last year and a lot of those guys don’t want it to repeat again. I feel like a lot of guys are focused and ready for this year.”

On the need for more innings from the rotation…

“I think every starting pitcher that’s a goal they have in mind every time they take the mound and that’s to go as deep as possible. Being around it and the more you see it, the more you see what it takes, I think it gets you more mentally prepared than anything.

“It also helps when you look at the bullpen on paper, we’re as good as anyone, and I think that helps a lot. We have a lot of depth, we have two closers in Francisco Cordero and Sergio. A lot of guys have done it before with Frasor and Casey, I feel like our depth in bullpen is tremendous and I’m really excited to see them work.”

On Brett Cecil coming into camp having dropped 32 pounds…

“Unbelieveable, just watching him and the determination he showed and the work he has put in, you can tell right away. I think everyone is happy for him and now it’s just a matter of going out there, putting it all together and getting outs because that’s what you’re here for. I mean, it’s good that he lost all that weight but you have to go out there and perform.”

On finishing last season strong…

“It definitely felt good to get on a roll towards the end and finish the season strong. I think that was one of the things people questioned about me, whether I was going to be able to hang through a whole year but I was able to do it and not once did I feel fatigued or tired. I just wanted to finish strong and I did.”

How much did it help your career to go through those rough years in the Minors before breaking into the Majors as a rookie?

“A lot. To this day I still thank god I went through those times. For me, personally, as a young player I think you have to fail before you come up here just so you know what it’s like to fail. It happened for two and a half years for me where I was consistently failing. I think it made me mentally stronger and it’s tough for a young kid to come up here and all of a sudden they get hit in the mouth and don’t know how to react. But I think a lot of those guys that happened to last year, they’re coming in with a different mindset.”

On J.P. Arencibia…

“I think him and I had a great relationship as far as a game plan and knowing what to do. You can go through scouting reports and things like that but I think he always knew what was working for me that night and we were always on the same page. He’s going to continue to get better, and having Molina on his side was good, and I think having Mathis will be just as good too. Mathis has obviously that experience of working with a great staff in Anaheim and if (Arencibia) continues to learn, which I’m sure he will, he’ll be that much better.”

Lots of young starters around now — wasn’t like that when you broke into the league..

“When I came up it was Roy Halladay and guys like that, that were older than me so I was kind of the younger one. Now, I’m only 27 years old, and I feel like I’m old now. Everyone is kind of you’re the leader of the staff but I don’t pay attention to stuff like that. I just continue to go about my business and work hard. I learned in the big leagues by just watching one guy and I hope other guys do the same with me. Just watch the way I work and go about my business and when it’s time to strap it on it’s full game mode and hopefully guys continue to adapt to that learning process.”

On the competition among the young starters…

“I think it’s great. It’s just pushing guys to be that much better, including me. I always say, there’s always someone working just as hard as you, if not outworking you, so you have to continue to push and I feel like the competition this year I think it’s going to put pressure on all of us and make us work that much harder.”

Can the overall inexperience hurt this team?

“We won’t let that happen. We have guys that have done it for awhile now, position players, pitchers, and I think our youthfulness is going to work on our side and to our advantage.”

More certainty with the roster compared to last year at this time?

“I think so. Obviously we came out with a few question marks last year from the starting staff, position players and everywhere else. I felt like a lot of those questions got answered last year. J.P. did a great job, Lawrie came up and did a great job at third base and Lind did a tremendous job at first base. I think at one point last year we all just came together and it was like, okay these are the guys that are going to be with us for awhile and it’s good to know that. It’s good to come to Spring and I don’t have to worry about that stuff anymore I just go out and play the game.

On lots of Blue Jays being on Twitter…

“We have fun with it. We talk a lot of smack. We usually pick on Lawrie … we’re just trying to get to the fans. There were a few times this offseason where I’d just sit back and have fans ask me questions about anything. When you’re able to do that and they’re able to communicate with their favorite athletes, I think it’s awesome and now that we have the power to do that, it’s a great thing, and I think we use it to our advantage by showing that we do care.”

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