First game is in the books
The Blue Jays opened the Grapefruit League season with a victory over Pittsburgh in front of 4,059 fans at Florida Auto Exchange in Dunedin. Brett Cecil was almost flawless — albeit in just one inning of work — while the Blue Jays coaching staff also got a first-hand look at Kyle Drabek‘s new mechanics.
On the offensive side of things, Brett Lawrie picked up where he left off with a pair of two-run doubles. Perhaps of more interest to fans was that Eric Thames hit an opposite field home run off Chris Leroux. Thames and Travis Snider are in a heated battle for the starting job in left field and that shot gives Thames the early edge. Snider will get his chance to counter on Sunday when he gets the start in left in a rematch against the Pirates.
Below this post you can find tomorrow’s travel roster, on the main site you can find today’s notebook with items on Farrell, Henderson Alvarez, Chad Mottola, Carlos Villanueva and Toronto’s batting order. Also on the main site you can find a recap of Toronto’s win over the Pirates in Game 1 of Grapefruit League action.
Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter @gregorMLB where I’m posting daily photos and varios tidbits from around Spring Training. Below, here are the leftovers from today’s Blue Jays’ camp:
Step one in the books?
“Step 1 was underway in November (he says while laughing). It felt good to get out against a different team other than our own and facing different hitters, and getting a little excited. I didn’t get out of my delivery, but a few of the balls were up. I don’t mind mistakes as long as they’re good mistakes. If they’re going to be up in the zone, I want them to be up-up in the zone, not where it was last year most of the time. So as far as today went, you couldn’t really tell much from one inning but it was good. It felt great.”
Looking for different signs this spring in terms of response and endurance?
“Not really. I’m just taking what they give me. I feel like I could go six if they let me, but obviously that’s not going to happen until later in spring training. So I’m just taking what they give me right now.”
Feel like you wished you had more than one inning today?
“Yeah, for sure. I think they got us slated at 25 pitches or one inning, whichever comes first. I would’ve loved to go out there for a second inning, third, fourth, to however long the game was going. But it’s kind of a hold-back position right now. I feel like there’s no reason to stress it any further than it needs to go. It’s just Spring Training. The games don’t mean anything. It’s just for us to get our work in.”
Did you think about going into the bullpen to get more work in?
“No. I don’t think they would have minded if I threw 15 more pitches in the bullpen, but in a weird way that’s really not necessary either. We throw bullpens, no real hitter up there. I’m really not working on anything specific than the generalization of staying with my delivery and keeping the ball down. It’s hard to simulate just throwing a bullpen.”
On refined delivery…
“With the new mechanics, I was probably on 70%. I caught myself falling off, which is the thing we’re trying to prevent but I was happy with it.”
The 30% you were off your mechanics what was the problem?
“It was really just on fastballs, I was trying to either be too fine with it and would fall off, or just try to gas it up. But I felt good.”
“Trying not to think about just mechanics. When I was out there, it was all game and we’ve been working hard on them that it kind of became a usual thing.”
On Cecil’s velocity…
“Where it ends up four weeks from now remains to be seen but separating the velocity aside, the fact he’s gotten himself into much better condition, his body control and ability to repeat his delivery is much more consistent, so we would think that’s going to translate into better execution at the bottom of the strike zone, the home run ball was an issue for him a year ago, and by being down in the strike zone, he might be able to naturally make an improvement in that area, and we’ll see that process start today.”
Did you specifically bring up the weight issue with Cecil last year or did he decide to drop it on his own…
“We talked more about core strength and body composition. He has dropped the weight. He’s dropped 30 pounds, yet he’s done a great job
with getting himself in much better shape. We didn’t set a number on it: you’ve got to meet this target.What we talked about was making sure he gets in overall better condition for the purposes of repeating his delivery.”
Cecil changed his delivery a couple of times last year. Where did that stand going into this Spring Training?
“When he went over his head with his hands, it kind of got his hands moving a little bit earlier, more on time. I think most importantly, because maybe the body wasn’t as explosive and the hip drive wasn’t there, we’re seeing that now with the revamped body style. More importantly, it’s where he executes pitches in the strike zone and he’s doing that. He’s getting to his front side a little more regularly and no blocking himself off as was the case for a large part of last year.
On Mottola filling in for Dwayne Murphy, who is away from the team because of a personal family matter…
“Chad has stepped in and the fact that Chad spent last September with us, he’s familiar not only with Murph’s program — which is an
organizational program — but more specifically the check points in guys swings and he has got a repoire with a number of guys either
being in camp or guys that were in Las Vegas with him a year ago.”
On liking having a left-handed hitter in the two-hole of the batting order…
“As we got through the midpoint of last year we were able to get a little bit more balance in our lineup. That’s not to say that we’re locked into a left-hander in that spot, but the fact is with Yunel in that leadoff spot, and then Jose in the three-hole, both of those guys hit right-handers well but you’re just trying to create a little contrast to who the matchup might be at various points in the game.”