Another one in the books
Quick intro with lots of leftovers from today’s 7-0 loss to the Phillies. On the main site, you can find a feature on Brett Lawrie putting a year of transition behind him with the hopes of avoiding a sophomore slump. Also, there’s a notebook with items on Ricky Romero refining his cutter to left-handed batters, Dustin McGowan throwing 25 pitches in a simulated game and Toronto adding advance scout Kevin Cash with the hopes of improving the club’s woefull Interleague Play record.
Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @gregorMLB for all the news out of Toronto’s Spring Training camp. Here are today’s leftover items:
Ricky Romero (2 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB — all six outs recorded on ground balls):
“I made some good pitches, started a little off at the beginning but I felt great. Felt great in the bullpen and felt smooth again and was out there just trying to pound the zone with my fastball more than anything and I was able to do that
“Right now, it’s working on that fastball command and getting it down. Changeup was a little off, other than that good cutters in the second inning. Made good pitches.”
On stranding a runner at third with just one out because of back-to-back ground balls…
“That’s when you slow the game down and you don’t try to do too much, let your defense work. Made some good pitches and kept the ball in the infield, which is important in that situation. You do that kind of stuff, you slow it down, and everything else kind of works out.”
On facing an opposing team for the first time this spring…
“It’s exciting, any time you see that visiting team with a different color uniform you get that adrenaline going and I couldn’t wait to get out there. To see that team in the opposite dugout, it definitely felt great.”
On what’s different between 2011 and 2012 for the Blue Jays…
“I see a lot of determination this year. If you look at the vibe inside of this clubhouse, I think we’re all ready to take it to the next level, to take it to that next step. We all understand that we have a lot of work to do but when you see the confidence and the way we carry ourselves from position to position I think it’s great. It’s the best I’ve ever seen it and I think we’re ready to do some good things with this team and it’s going to take a lot of hard work but I think this team has the right mindset.”
More on today’s performance…
“It was kind of hard to throw all of your pitches out there today. Some guys swing early, you’re only able to throw fastballs but I think that’s a great thing. It’s all about spotting that fastball, everything works off the fastball, if you’re able to do that, it makes everything else a lot easier.”
John Farrell (post game interview):
On Jenkins and McGuire in depth chart…
“In our internal conversations those are guys that we envision contributing at some point, second half of this year if not before depending on need, but to come in in his first spring appearance like he did today was very encouraging.”
On Romero’s left-right splits and why they favor lefties…
“Against right-handers his cutter and his changeup, to be able to spread the plate with velocity and action going two different ways presents a lot of challenges to a right-handed hitter. As his curveball becomes more consistent, both for a strike and something he can sweep away from a left-handed hitter, I think you’ll see those come back into a little more balance.
“He uses his changeup probably more frequently against right-handers than a left-hander. And those are things that we’ve discussed and looked at with him.”
“Anytime you can create depth going away from a left-hander, that’s the one that’s going to slow some left-handers down. They’ll look out over the plate against him know they’ll probably get something hard away for the majority of the at-bat, but I think as he creates more consistency with the curveball against them, that’s where he’ll slow them down.”
On Kelly Johnson’s triple: example of aggressive base-running trying to be implemented?
“He knew who the left-fielder was and he knew Juan Pierre has a below-average throwing arm. The play was right in front of him. With two outs and Bautista behind him, you might not press as much during the season, but in that situation, he knew exactly who was in front of him, so he took the extra base.
On Johnson’s underrated speed…
“He can run. There’s no doubt about it. He’s had upper teens in stolen bases in the past so he’s a good athlete and I think most importantly it’s encouraging to see him staying in the middle of the field even though he had a base hit also through the 3-4 hole. When he’s on, he’s driving the ball to left-centre.”
John Farrell (pre-game interview):
On the potential for a breakout season by a number of guys…
“I think when you look at the age group that’s by design. Because we don’t operate like a couple of other teams in this division, we’ve got to time things as well, so when you look at the window of opportunity and the maturing of a roster with a number of guys 24-27 years of age that is clearly by design. That’s what has driven a lot of Alex’s trades, on who he targets, not only are they talented but they fit the model of what we have in place.”
Can Morrow step up to be a special guy?
“On a given night he pitched as an elite starter in this league. Carrying that out to 32 or 34 starts, that’s where he found the right effort level in his delivery to maintain, rather than try to pace himself or pitching as a closer. So I think he’s settled into that effort level that works best for him. He’s realized that his curve ball is important for him to create that separation in velocity. Those are things that are part of him maturing as a pitcher.”
Delivery different when pacing or going all out?
“The radar gun shows it pretty obvioiusly as well. When he’s trying to sink the ball at 91-93, that’s probably pacing himself too much, as opposed to stepping on the gas to 97 or 99 as he can on occasion, is probably too much. Like he said, he’s found that optimal level of effort to maintain over the course of a game.”
More of a premium in AL East on guys who miss bats?
“Ideally, we’d all take strikeout pitchers. But it’s important to keep the ball on the ground, particularly with the lineups in our division. This division has more hitter-friendly ballparks in it, top to bottom than any other division. That combination can be tough on some pitching. That’s where you look at a young guy like Hendersin Alvarez who has the ability to put the ball on the ground and get two outs with one pitch.
“If you’re a flyball pitcher, hopefully you’ve got the ability to strike some people out.”
Not get a lot of guys in this division chase …
“That’s why starters earn the money they do. You can’t hide. You’ve got to get people out in the strike zone, with late action and a lot of confidence. On days when it’s not going your way, how do you grind through to get deeper into the game and save the bullpen rather than have things blowing up on you and forcing the bullpen to wear it. That affects not only tomorrow but potentially the next three days.”
Alex seeking power arms …
“It’s even more true when you compete and contend for a World Series. Power stuff wins in the postseason. You don’t get a lot of chase out of the strike zone that you might get during the course of the regular season because guys are so much more focused. That’s where power wins out the later you get in the year.”
Cordero and Vizquel as mentors…
“Not only (Cordero’s) personality but as good of a pitcher he’s been and the experience he has. More importantly to that, their personalities. They’re team players, they’re good teammates, they like to have fun, but they like to win, too. And they’re also very willing with their knowledge and experience they’ve obtained over the long run.
“There’s a reason why guys are here. The background and due diligence that is done on individuals, the type of people they are, the type of teammates they’ve been over their careers. They didn’t get here by accident.”
Several local games in a row allow you to use the regular lineup more?
“Yes, I’ve even laid it out to guys, talked to them individually. For example, Jose plays RF Tuesday, DH Wednesday and RF on Thursday. That gives him a good run of 10 or 12 at-bats over the next three days.
“Just the way the schedule has worked out it gives us a chance to see some young guys, get 3-4 at-bats in a given game. Some of our regular guys a chance to get into spring training a little but and now we’ll run them out there consecutively.”
Judging how Minor Leaguers are doing…
“The environment they’re playing in here, even though it’s Spring Training, is different than they’ve played at Double A or Class-A ball level. They know they’re playing in front of the Major-League staff and the front office so that in and of itselft creates another dynamic that they haven’t had to contend with, day in and day out. You see how they react to that, you see how they react to make decisions within the game, regardless of who they are facing on the mound. You see their thought process, you see their game awareness, you see how they respond. That’s probably the area we focus on more right now than anything fundamentally: their ability to maintain their composure and control their emotions in certain situations.”