July 2012

Delabar talks about the deal

In another deal on Monday night, the Blue Jays added right-hander Steve Delabar for Eric Thames. Here’s what Delabar had to say about going from the home team clubhouse at Safeco Field to the visitor’s one:

“I walked in and we were about to celebrate Iwakuma’s game and Luetge’s first save and I got pulled aside and was told I was heading over to the other clubhouse.

“I haven’t spoken to anyone yet.

“The Blue Jays have a pretty good team, they swing it, have a lot of power hitters in their lineup, and that’s about all I know right now. I guess I’m supposed to go over there and help them out.

“Last year, moving through all the levels, you’ve got to meet new guys and form relationships and I’m pretty sure it’s going to be the same situation over there, get in, get to learn everybody and the way they work and feed into the same thing they do.

“Fastball, splitter and slider, just try to go right after guys and attack them.

Style? “I’m just looking to pound the zone and hopefully things will work out on my side.

Emotions for team that gave him his break? “I thanked them for what they let me do and giving me the opportunity to get up here. Emotions right now, I’m really up in the air, I don’t know what kind of role I’m going to have or what it’s going to be over there. I just know it’s going to be out of the bullpen.

Like Ichiro, walk across? “There’s a lot of stir recently about things happening, so you’re kind of on your toes and you know this might be a possibility. You take it in stride and go with it.

Snider reacts to trade

The Blue Jays traded outfielder Travis Snider to Pittsburgh on Monday night for right-handed reliever Brad Lincoln. I’ll have plenty of reaction to the deal a little later but here’s a quick Q+A with Snider as he reacts to the deal:

Catch you by surprise?

“Yeah. Trade deadline, you expect moves to be made, you never know if it’s going to be you. First of all, thank you to everybody in Toronto, the organization, the fans and can’t say thank you enough for sticking with me through this journey and looking forward to a new opportunity.”

Thoughts on the move…

“Definitely a lot of good relationships I developed throughout this organization, all the way through the Minor League coaches, up to the front office. To be saying goodbye to those guys is tough, but as I move forward in my life on this journey, it’s taking things one day at a time and embracing a new opportunity.” 

You looked a little stunned in the dugout…

“I haven’t really been called off the field like that before so I really didn’t know what was going on. I thought maybe it was a lineup mistake or something like that. But, again, you know at this time of the year things are going to happen and really just wanted to get an opportunity to say goodbye to some of those guys. Every guy on that team, played hard for him, great group of guys and I’m going to miss them.”

Talked to Huntington yet?

“Yes, just briefly, trying to get travel information and things figured out but nothing more than that.” 

Looking forward to new opportunity?

“Experiencing what I have, I’ve definitely learned a lot from that and moving forward, the mindset has to stay the same, same as when I got called up this last time. What I’ve worked hard to develop is to take things one day at a time and controlling what I can control. I’m going to work hard for the Pittsburgh Pirates and go out there and play hard every day.” 

Reaction to going to Pittsburgh and being in a playoff race?

“I’m excited to be a part of a contending organization. Opportunity to play in October is what we all dream about. It’s tough to say goodbye but at the same time I’m excited for the new opportunity.”

Lyon and Happ report to Blue Jays

The Blue Jays bullpen added a couple of healthy arms on Saturday when right-hander Brandon Lyon and left-hander J.A. Happ arrived following Friday’s 10-player deal with Houston. The timing couldn’t be any better considering Toronto lost yet another arm when Jason Frasor when placed on the 15-day disabled list with tightness in his right forearm.

Toronto now has nine pitchers on the disabled list in a season that seems to have more injury news with every passing week. The Blue Jays aren’t alone in their injury woes as many other clubs around Major League Baseball are suffering from similar fates but I personally haven’t seen anything quite like this.

Here’s what Lyon and Happ had to say about joing the Blue Jays…

Brandon Lyon:

Back to where it all began…

“It’s exciting. I’m excited to be back here. I see a lot of familiar faces around here. I’m just excited to be part of this organization again and be out here to try and win games and help them.”

On the injuries…

“I’m here to do whatever I can to help this team win in any situation. Any time they call down and put me in I’m going to go out there and do what I do, throw strikes and put the pressure on hitters and let the defense help me as much as I can.”

Houston rebuilding mode so this probably didn’t come as a total shock…

“I think all of us, all of the veterans, all of the people around there heard the rumors or heard a lot of the talk about rebuilding for the future. They kind of wanted to see how this year played out. It didn’t really come as a shock that I got traded. Maybe the timing of it, the reality of it, when you get the phone call but I had a great time there. The organization gave me a great opportunity to go there and I spent almost three seasons there so it definitely has a place in my heart but it’s time to move on and do what I can here to help this team.”

Easier to go back to a place you’ve been…

“I think so. It makes it easier for me. Obviously feeling for Jay right now, I don’t think he knows many people around here. At least I can come in here, I can see a few faces that I’ve seen in the past and it does make it a little bit easier but any time you have to switch teams and go through the whole meeting new teammates. It’s uncomfortable for a few days but once the game starts, you’re playing baseball, you might just have a different uniform on. It will be a lot easier once the game starts for everybody in this situation go just go out there and do what you can to help the team get some outs and help the team win a baseball game.”

What can be expected of J.A….

“I haven’t seen Jay pitch out of the bullpen, I’ve seen him as a starter since I’ve been with him in Houston. He definitely has great stuff. He commands the zone really well, has a great breaking ball and he’s an aggressive pitcher. He throws strikes out there and is really great at what he does. It will be interesting to see him come out of the ‘pen maybe with a little bit of an extra gear coming out of there. Maybe a tick or two higher on the velocity gun but we’ll see. I’m excited to see that happen to see what he can do for this team too.”

How different are you compared to your first go-around with the Blue Jays…

“Very different. I’ve developed, where back then you get into some situations as a youngster and you don’t really know how to get out of them and you try too hard. I’ve learned from those situations and what to expect. I’ve been in almost every situation I’d have to say, coming out of the bullpen, tied games, down runs, big situations bases loaded. You just refer back to that memory bank and try to focus on every situation what you think you need to do to get out of it.”

Anyone talked about your role…

“No. I haven’t really sat down with them, I just barely got here about half an hour ago. I met John, I haven’t met Alex yet. I’m excited to meet everybody. New faces and a new team. I’m excited to get going.”

Getting into a playoff race…

“It has been a little while since we’ve kind of been in a situation like this. So I’m excited, I’m excited to get out there and obviously see what I can do and get that adrenaline flow. It’s a little bit different of an adrenaline flow when you have the game on the line in situations where teams are just trying to get a win. I’m excited for it, I can’t wait to get out there.”

Being in AL East…

“It’s prime time out here. The time, obviously everybody on the West Coast gets to see the games, nobody on the East Coast gets to see the West Coast games. I’m just excited, you see a lot of the publicity because of the time zones and the teams that are in the AL East. It’s live and die by every pitch here at Fenway. I’m excited to be here in this atmosphere, especially coming from a team that’s in a rebuilding stage and being able to get back into this division.”

What’s your repertoire now…

“Same things I did before. Instead of a slider that I had as a starter, I use more of a cutter now. Still fastball, curveball, changeup, cutter. Same things, just use them in different situations. As a starter I was more of a sinker baller and trying to get groundballs. Now I use my cutter and curveball quite a bit. I’m more of a fly ball pitcher than I used to be the last time I was here. My mentality is the same, go out and throw strikes and put pressure on the hitters.”

J.A. Happ:

Surprised?

“It did come as a surprise. I had no idea. But it’s always nice to go to a place that wants you, so I’m excited for the opportunity.”

Role?

“I’m not sure. I think it’s a kind of play-it-by-ear type of thing. I know I’m going to be in the bullpen to start and we’ll kind of see where it goes from there. But hopefully I can contribute.”

Organization?

“He said he really liked his time here. I know it was a little while ago, at the beginning of his career, but I’ve heard a lot of guys who played in Toronto say they liked it. I’m sure it’s going to be an adjustment, but, just take it as it comes.”

Prefer rotation?

“Yeah, that’s what I’m most comfortable with. It’s what I’ve done most. I don’t want to make any waves, cause any waves, but that’s where I see myself being and hopefully they do too at some point.”

Pitcher?

“I’m just a guy, like a lot of guys, who tries to get ahead and I’m most effective when I get ahead in the count and try to pound the strike zone, so that’s kind of goal number one for me when I go out there.”

Repertoire?

“I throw some two-seamers. Fastball, curveball, little cut-slider and changeup.”
- “go-to” pitch might be cutter, “Depends on the day, I guess.”

Alex interested?

“I definitely hope so [see something in you]. Like I said, I was not expecting it, but again to have someone want you and go try to get you is a good thing.”

Bullpen experience?

“I’m going to try and I know we’ve got some guys in the bullpen here that have done it for a while so I’ll rely on them a little bit. In ’09 I relieved a little bit in the postseason and in ’08 I relieved a little bit also. Try to use that if I can.”

Rebuilding to now in the thick of it?

“I think it’s going to be fun. I certainly hope so. It can get a little bit overwhelming losing on a consistent basis, so I think it’s going to be a good opportunity.”

How has this year gone for you?

“I feel like I kept us in a lot of ballgames. I had a few ballgames that weren’t so pretty and numbers-wise kind of hurt a little bit. But other than that I feel like I was keeping us in the ballgame a lot.”

Now vs. Philly?

“I like to think I’m similar. My mechanics may have changed a little bit, but that’s kind of the guy that I want to be. The more that I can be like that, the better.”

Mechanical changes?

“Just kind of toned it down a little bit. Maybe not quite as high of a leg-kick. It’s a constant thing of trying to change stuff and tweak things a little bit. Especially over the last two years, I’ve been trying to get it where I can be consistently repeating my delivery. I think I’m in a place where I feel good with it, where I can consistently throw strikes.”

Snider gets another shot

On the main site you will find an article on Travis Snider finally getting another chance to prove his worth at the Major League level. Here are some of the quotes that didn’t make it into the piece:

 Travis Snider:

How tough has this season been for you… 

“Not as bad as years past. It might sound different or unexpected, but what I’ve gone through in life not only outside of baseball but in baseball prepares me for these tests that life is going to bring, whether it’s baseball or injuries or family situation or whatever, it’s understanding what I can control and that’s my mindset. Inner peace and happiness is not something that’s going to be affected by things that go on outside.”

On reaction to others being called up before him…

“We as athletes, we want to be there, we want to get that call but understanding what I can control, I think most recently when Anthony got called up, I watched what Anthony went through this year, I saw how hard he worked and he deserved it. Whether that put me in a different position with the organization, I can’t speak on behalf of the decisions they make, they have a reason for doing everything they do, so for me it’s to come here and focus on what I can control, my routine, my mindset and going out there and playing right.

“It’s a tough pill to swallow when opportunities aren’t handed to you like they were in the past. And I said earlier this year I know I’m not the Golden Boy, I’m not the 20-, 21-year-old kid again, but it’s a good learning process for me, a chance to grow up, a chance to mature, a chance to hopefully give somebody somewhere outside this clubhouse, or even in this clubhouse, a perspective on how you can deal with things in life, and what it takes each and every day to wake up and maintain that focus on what you can control.”

On having more time to get adjusted to mechanical adjustments at the plate…

“Coming back from the injury, just getting back in the swing of things, and then really honing back in on the approach, I think moving forward that’s going to be the key. There’s going to be adjustments to be made, you play 162 games, things are going to break down and that’s when you change up your routine a little bit to get the results you’re looking for. I feel comfortable with what I’ve been doing all season and maintaining that focus on the approach, what pitch I’m looking to hit based on the situation and who’s on the mound, and really taking the thought into that instead of where my hands are or how I’m striding, or if I’m open or closed.”

How’s the wrist…

“I’ve been healthy since I came back to Vegas. It was frustrating because I took about a week, week and a half, thinking that I could come back and work through some pain and as we upped the workload the pain increased and that’s when I had to say, okay I need to get an extended period of time to rest. They sent me to Florida, I’ve done that before, I know what that’s about. A great staff down there, we were able to get things wrapped up quicker than in years past when I’ve had the wrist injuries that I’ve dealt with and really just get back to Vegas and playing baseball and getting back into the swing of things and picking up where I left off.”

What makes you think you’re better prepared now…

“I think it’s the mindset. It’s something that you guys are going to hear a lot from me but it’s really something I’ve had to work hard on. In offseasons in the past, there has been frustrations, there has been emotions as a young man in this game and dealing with the ups and downs that I have. It’s how do you deal with those, how do you move forward and I could walk around with a chip on my shoulder and be bitter at the world and be angry every morning that this didn’t work out my way or why did I get hurt here. But, timing and those kind of things are out of my control and like I said, prepare myself each and every day, come to the park with the right attitude and the old saying, just do whatever I can to help the team win.”

This season that mentality set in?

“I’d say this offseason. Going the last few years, injury, poor play, and up and down, up and down, up and down. It takes a toll on anybody whether you’re 21, 22, 23 or you’re 28, 29, 30 years old. Gaining that perspective from being around guys in Triple-A, who have a different situation in terms of how many years they’ve been playing or having families and kids, and other things that they have to worry about and really realizing how much I have to be thankful for. Even though this isn’t how I would have drawn it up, I think a lot of people wouldn’t have drawn it up like this, that’s life and understanding I have more time on this earth and I don’t want to walk around being angry at the world. I’ve done that in my life and that’s something I’ve had to work hard on to overcome and really just put myself in a position to wake up each and every day to be thankful for what I have.”

 How much do you think some of the struggles on the field have been mental as opposed to physical?

“I think it’s definitely gone hand in hand. Dealing with a few injuries and whether you’re injured and you come back and things aren’t quite right. You start to struggle a little bit. Or just flat-out struggling, as I have at points in my career. And I think going through those at a young age, being 24 years old, it seems like I’ve been doing this for a lot longer than I have, in terms of how many years I’ve been on this earth. But I think those are all things that are going to build for me for the future and those experiences gained now are going to pay off in the long run.”

You were the No. 2 trending topic in Canada last night on Twitter. Fans have been following you pretty crazily for a long time but the popularity, what’s that like for you, when people are so interested in you coming up at this point?

“I think popularity is the wrong word. We all remember being in high school and wanting to be the popular kid and being the star athlete, and you experience that when you get to the major-league level you start being recognized and people really take a genuine interest in what’s going on in your career or your personal life. One thing I do want to say is thank you to every fan out there that has supported me through this process and this journey. I think that you can’t be thankful enough for those people that are pulling for you, whether it’s in the great country of Canada or back home in Mill Creek and in Washington, the great support system that I’ve had. For me that’s what keeps it in perspective and understanding that there’s a lot of people out there pulling for me, a lot of people that believe in me and I’m here to play baseball.”

Throughout this whole process has there been any time when you questioned your own ability? Have you ever wondered, ‘Am I really a major leaguer?

“When you struggle you’re going to have thoughts arise and you’re going to have those obstacles that you have to overcome, and it’s not to say, I woke up and was like, ‘Man, I don’t think I can play in the major leagues.’ It’s more, ‘Okay, I got to get away from some of the excuses and some of the crutches, some of the ups and downs and injuries and things like that,’ and focus my mindset on the present moment. I can’t go back and change what happened in 2009 or 2010 or even 2011. It’s 2012, we’re here in Boston and I’m ready to go. I’ve tried to move past what I’ve experienced from carrying that with me, other than in terms of as a learning experience and character building.”

You hit the home run yesterday and was it right after that you got removed from the game?

“It was shortly after. We had a pretty good rally going in the first inning. We were down by six, then led off the inning and three batters later they said, ‘Go pack your stuff.’”

So it wasn’t right after you came off the field, right after you crossed home plate?

“No, it wasn’t like, ‘You hit a home run, you’re out of here.’ I was in the dugout. I was actually getting ready; I was getting another at-bat that inning. We actually put together a pretty good run in that first inning. They tell you, go pack your stuff, we’ll let you know what’s going on. That’s why we can’t jump on Twitter or Facebook or anything like that and say ‘This is what’s happening.’ There’s deals to be made and things to be handled and allow the organization to announce those things.”

Reaction to the 10-player deal

Lots of fallout today from the surprising 10-player deal between Toronto and Houston. The move caught a lot of people by surprise,  including those in the Blue Jays clubhouse. I’ll try to find the time later tonight or tomorrow for my own personal analysis of the deal but I’ve been busy gathering reaction from others on the deal.

Here’s what Alex Anthopoulos, John Farrell, Ricky Romero, Bruce Walton and Casey Janssen had to say about today’s events:

Alex Anthopoulos:

Reasoning behind the deal…

“Getting J.A. Happ, having two years of control beyond this year, arb eligible, the fact that he’s been a starter, thrown out of the bullpen in the past as well. Just all those things. We need some depth going forward for the current year and even beyond. There’s a fairly significant gap for us between some of our higher end prospects at low-a and obviously the guys that are up here right now. Our depth has really been attacked.

“We like Happ’s ability to strike guys out. We think it’s very similar to when we got Carlos Villanueva a few years ago and we think there’s a little bit of upside to him. A guy like Brandon Lyon’s been having a solid year, he’s been hurt in the past, Cordero hasn’t obviously pitched as well as he’s capable of and we think swapping out Lyon with Cordero will help our ‘pen for the current year and a guy like David Carpenter is someone we liked at the end of last year, I know he hasn’t been up with the Astros very long and he was sent back down but he’s a guy with pretty good arm-strength, again he’s got some upside, some ability to control him with options, things like that, we’re always looking to get some young, relievers with options as well.

“I know there’s a lot of players involved in this deal. I think it looks like a greater deal because of the quantity of players, but at the end of the day we gave up some guys in a-ball we think have the chance to be alright and we got some much needed depth for us that can help for the current year and moving forward.”

On how long in the making it was…

“It came together recently but we’re in dialogue all the time and we had asked the Astros about Happ and just felt he’d be a good fit for us, the fact that he can start, he can relieve, again knowing that we have some control over him, again, we’re always going to need more than five starters. Right now he’s going to be in our bullpen to start but I don’t know if we can count on all five guys to remain in the rotation the whole time, so if we need to make a change in the rotation or someone falters, he’ll obviously be a guy who’ll get one of the first opportunities to go back into the starting role. Expect both players to report tomorrow, Carpenter will go to Vegas. We’ll be able to get our hands on him and watch him a little bit, but again, both Happ and Lyon will start in the bullpen.

Why not start Happ in the rotation…

“It’s really start-to-start with a lot of these guys. If you look at the numbers overall, obviously Carlos has done a good job in the rotation, Aaron Laffey has done a good job in the rotation, Cecil – who’s getting hit a little bit – I thought he battled and did a solid job against New York so he certainly deserves to get another start, I think Alvarez has certainly come around as well so it doesn’t mean he’ll be in the bullpen for a long time. I told Jay (Happ) that the opportunity could present itself at any time. We’re going to go with the hot hand like we’ve done in the bullpen. When someone falters or someone does not do well, J.A. will be waiting in the wings to get his opportunity. My hope is that we don’t have to make any changes, just we’ll put up zeroes but the reality is that’s not likely going to happen. I think he’ll get an opportunity before it’s all said and done.

On whether there was anything that either side had to have to make this happen…

“No, I think it was just one of those things, again, we didn’t want to give up any of our top guys so I think what it came down to was trying to add some depth. They needed some depth. Obviously there’s strength in numbers from that standpoint and if they weren’t going to get one of our top guys or someone that we viewed that way I think it was more about getting quantity for them and for us getting a guy like carpenter put in the deal, he’s young, got a good arm, again we think has a chance to develop into a solid reliever.

“At the end of the day we traded a bunch of kids that certainly have a lot of talent, but we have two guys that are for us, big-league players for more of the long term in Happ and Carpenter and certainly a guy like Lyon. We’re getting potentially if Carpenter does find his way back up here, three big league players to have give up some kids in the minor leagues in a-ball, seemed like a fair trade off for both sides.”

On when the player-to-be-named later will be determined…

“We’ll have it done by the end of August.”

On the financial implications…

“We’re taking on a little bit of salary, probably a little over $700,000.”

Bruce Walton:

“Any time you acquire depth, guys with veteran experience, it gives you tons of options going forward from here in what we can do with our rotation, and our bullpen.

“We’ve seen what it does with Carlos, you see how important he’s turned out to be for the club. That swing guy is huge.

“Brandon will fit in there fine. He’s a warrior, down there, he’s been around and he knows how to pitch. He’ll help out great with the three guys we have down there.”

Casey Janssen:

On help coming for the bullpen…

“We needed some help down there and I don’t know much about either one of them really, it’s kind of just hit me, but I know Lyon’s a late-inning guy that we can count on, which we’ve kind of desperately needed a little bit and Happ, I know he has starter experience, I don’t know much about him in the bullpen, but if you can get outs we’ll take you bullpen or starting.”

On easing the workload of Janssen/Frasor/Oliver…

“Hopefully it gives John options. Hopefully it takes a little bit off of us but at the same time, I don’t think anybody’s packing it in and we need to stay in those games that are tight and hopefully these arms can give our offense a chance.”

On what it means for the clubhouse…

“I think it shows that they’re trying upstairs. You hate to say it, because I don’t really know much about the prospects, but I’m kind of a guy, by the time those prospects got to the big leagues, who knows where I’m going to be. I’m a big play for the now as opposed towards the future and I think that this move is showing that we’re going to try for this year.”

Ricky Romero:

“It’s always tough to see your teammates go. I know Coco is having a tough year but at the same time, no one saw how he was in the clubhouse. He was such a great guy along with Benny. As far as the trade, it’s a business and I feel like the guys that we got are definitely going to be a big help to this team. We got a young pitcher in Happ coming up and a veteran guy in Brandon. I’m looking forward to it.”

Lack of depth seemed like a problem after the injuries…

“I think it will definitely help the team and like I said, we’re getting some good pitchers and looking forward to playing ith them and seeing what they got. I know a little bit about Happ, obviously just watching him, he pitched a few years ago against us when he was with Philly and looking forward to it.” 

What kind of effect on the clubhouse…

“We might be in last place right now but the Wild Card is still there. We’ve got two, two and a half months left of baseball and any time you’re able to make a move like that to help the team out, I’m all for it. Hopefully those guys can contribute and we can start winning games and get back on this.”

Bautista placed on DL but avoids serious injury

The Blue Jays nightmare of constant injuries continued on Monday night when Jose Bautista was forced to leave during the eighth inning against New York because of a left wrist injury. There were initial fears that the wrist might be broken or at the very least some significant damage had been done to the ligaments in the area.

Those concerns were alleviated after an X-ray came back negative after the game while a follow-up MRI on Tuesday did not reveal any structural damage. Bautista was still placed on the 15-day DL but appears to have avoided a serious setback, which could have cost him the rest of the season.

For now, Bautista remains optimistic that he will be ready to return once the 15 days expires but that will ultimately depend on how quickly the pain subsides. Here’s what Bautista had to say about the injury and the looming rehab on Tuesday afternoon:

Jose Bautista:

“It was just an aggressive 2-0 swing. I got a good pitch to hit. I managed to hit it but it went foul and just as I was finishing my swing I felt something weird around my wrist and on the recall is when I felt a sharp pain. So, obviously it was a little scary at the time. You can’t help but think the worst but bottom line is that I got examined, I got X-rays and an MRI, there’s not much structural damage just some irritation around the joint. So, it’s a wrist strain and obviously I won’t be able to pick up the bat for a couple of days but we’re going to take it day-by-day and go through all the treatment necessary to get back onto the field, without rushing anything, but as quickly as possible.”

Wrist issues before?

“I got hurt in Winter Ball once, back maybe in 2004 or 2005. But it was totally different injury, it was to a ligament and that was worse. But nothing along those lines, it was a total different injury, total different spot and not quite as bad.”

Was there any hope of being able to avoid DL?

“It was a possibility but due to the pain that’s around the area right now and the possibility of re-aggravating it and making it worse. They thought, there was no need to take that risk.”

Next step?

“Treatment right away. I’m already on some medication to alleviate the inflammation and just go through the treatment. There are no tears and there are no structural damage so I can go ahead and start full treatment on it. I just can’t do any strength exercises for a couple of days.”

Pain now?

“Yeah, when I move it in certain directions it’s pretty tough. But that’s what I have to avoid, that’s why I’m wearing a sprint to protect the area too from bumping it against anything. As long as I don’t move it in certain directions I’ll be fine.”

Feel something before?

“No, just on that swing, had nothing to do with anything earlier. It’s funny that I’ve read a couple of things about the Derby or the slide at the plate. It has nothing to do with either of those two things.”

Relief no structural damage?

“It was a big relief. When it happened you always think the worst. I thought I had torn something or maybe had broken my wrist but that’s not the case and I’m happy to know that.”

No structural damage at all?

“No.”

Have you seen video? Identify anything different?

“The only thing that I can think of is that I hung on with both hands maybe longer than I usually do. Maybe my wrist got turned in a direction that it never gets turned. That maybe put too much stress in the area and maybe kind of hyperextended it. It’s just a strain, in an area where luckily no ligaments were damaged but it did get irritated.”

Just a fluke thing?

“Yeah, just held on too long with two hands in a weird, awkward position and it’s just one of those freak things you can’t control or predict. It’s just unfortunate that it happened in such an important part of the season and in such an important game.”

Tough to deal with not being in lineup now?

“It’s going to be tough just sitting in the dugout. I don’t know what I’m going to be thinking about doing or doing during the games. I’m going to be biting all of my nails. I’m definitely going to have to find something to do but I’m going to be here pulling for the guys and trying to help out in any way that I can.”

Big blow to this team but guys here that can step up?

“Yeah, I’m not too worried about that. I think this is a pretty good team and by no means I feel like I’m the only one that’s capable of doing anything here. I think we can beat other teams with the guys that we’re going to have on the field that’s for sure.”

Doctors give you any idea of how long this will take?

“It’s all about pain tolerance since there’s no structural damage. It’s what it is, a strain, just like tweaking your hamstring or something. As long as you can tolerate the pain, I’m not going to make it any worse unless I do too much, too soon. I’ll let pain dictate what I can do and hopefully two weeks is enough, I’m thinking it will be.”

Knowing what Edwin’s gone through.. has he given any advice?

“There’s always talk and people recommend stuff but every injury is different and every person is different. I have no reason to believe this injury will be anywhere similar to anybody else’s past injuries. Again, pain for me is going to dictate what I can and cannot do and I’m just going to take it one day at a time.”

Anthopoulos talks Draft and Encarnacion signing

Major League Baseball’s deadline to reach an agreement with this year’s Draft picks was scheduled for Friday night. The Blue Jays weren’t expected to make any last-minute signings and in part because they already had each of their picks taken in the Top 10 rounders under contract.

Here’s what Anthopoulos had to say about this year’s Draft strategy plus leftovers from yesterday’s news conference about Edwin Encarnacion’s new three-year, $27-million contract:

On paying the tax to go overslot in this year’s Draft…

“The tax was fine. I don’t want to minimize it but that’s OK. We don’t want to lose picks. The opportunity to select in an area is worth whatever the tax was going to be. And we factored for it, we wanted to allocate for it, we weren’t geared toward spending that way but if it had to work out that way, we had the ability.

“We weren’t going to not sign a player because of the tax, we were going to not sign players if it meant forfeiting a draft pick the following year.”

Same strategy in the future without having luxury of extra compensatory picks?

“We’re not going to have the same pool of money because of all those extra picks. Now, Round 2 will be significantly higher next year because we had about 30 sandwich picks, you’re not going to have those any more, the sandwich round really became a full round, that’s going to shrink. You’re still going to have very good talent in the top three rounds because the picks are going to be higher.

“You could but rounds four, five, six, you’re not going to have that much bonus money to work with. It was an approach based on the talent that was there and what was available. If there’s no one there sitting on the board, we’re not going to do it.

“It just worked out that Smoral was sitting there. At the beginning of the year he was a guy we would have considered with our first pick, breaks his foot, slides, he’s sitting there, he wants $2 million. Would you trade your fourth, fifth and sixth round picks and second-round (money) for Smoral? That’s the thought process. We’d check the board, what’s left, what’s the draft look like for those rounds? That’s not to say it’s going to work out that way the following year. Maybe we’ll just try to take a big guy in round one, it depends who slides to you, maybe you don’t want to sign the player, maybe you want to defer the pick to the next year, there’s a lot of ways to approach. But it’s absolutely predicated on what talent is available in the draft. I don’t think there’s a flat strategy.”

Dyson/Loup… Do you need a look for next year too?

“That will be a by-product of it, but this isn’t a September look. We have needs, our minor-league people are telling us these are the best guys right now to give them a shot. If the by-product of that is we get to find out and someone pops, someone clicks, great. We all know relievers go up and down.”

Better than signing a veteran?

“We look at everyone who becomes available and ask is that person better than so and so? Bring a guy in and no-one believes in him, your scouts and so on, to pass over someone you have internally, then you have to release him or cut him loose, why go through all the trouble.”

On Moyer…

“They said he could pitch, he was solid, but no one felt he was an upgrade over what we had here. That’s what we told him, if the people down there who have seen everybody we’ve called up here fell that you’re better, we’ll make the move.”

Leftovers from Anthopoulos’ news conference to announce signing of Encarnacion to a three-year deal:

On Encarnacion…

“He has been here for quite some time, and been through some ups and downs, but we’ve really seen him grow as a player, grow as someone who quietly leads in the clubhouse, and as well very-well respected.

“The ability has always been there. I think it finally started to show itself at the end of last year, and currently now. The fact that Edwin wanted to be here and wanted stay here — and we obviously wanted him to stay — it was no-brainer for us to try to get this done.”

How important was this to get this done by the trade deadline and end the rumors?

“The rumors and things like that’s just par for the course, it comes with the territory. We didn’t have any intention of trading Edwin, it was someone we wanted to keep here. He has really emerged as a middle -of-the-order bat. you look at how our offense has developed this year, it has become a strength of this club.

“Making sure that Edwin is going to be here long term, we’ve really solidified that for the next few years. Our offense is in a very good position moving forward the next few years. It allows me, from a front office standpoint, and our staff, to focus a little bit more on helping out the bullpen, helping out the rotation. It is not to say we would ever forgo adding a bat if we could. But I think it is a strength and he is a big part of that strength in the middle of the order.

“From my standpoint, I prefer not to do these during the year. They are a distraction. If we do, we want to do them very quietly and fast. I think that is why the All-Star break was so important — it was an opportunity to do it quietly, quickly, and find out if it can get done or not”

Did this move fast?

“I think so. Edwin’s agent, Paul [Kinzer], we have done deals with him in the past — pretty straight shooter. I think the market for Edwin based on the year, we don’t know certainly what he is going to do the next two or three months, but I think there were enough comparables that it was a matter of trying to get close. I think both sides, you never get the exact number, whether it is years or dollars. But, at the end of the day, if he wanted to be here and we wanted him to be here, we were going come to an agreement one way or the other, and I think we were able to do it very quickly based on past relationships.”

How long?

“I think at the All-Star break is when it got serious. If we were going to get this done, I wanted this resolved by the All-Star break, by the end of the All-Star break. I didn’t want to start the second half, him talking about contract extension, maybe worrying about having to perform, things like that. I just didn’t want it to be a distraction at all.”

First base or DH?

“I think he can do both. I think you guys have seen in the past few years that he has gotten himself into tremendous shape. I don’t think three years ago, four years ago, we would have talked about even putting him in left field. He can obviously still fill in at third, and has done very well at first base.

“I talked to him in the offseason, he had a contract, we exercised the option, it was guaranteed money, but I asked him if he would go to winter ball and play left field and he said ‘no problem.’ It just tells you he is committed to the team. I think that is part of his value, that he can play so many positions for us, and he is willing to do that for us. Jose is the same way. … That is the type of people we want to have in this organization, that are doing whatever it takes to win.”

Can you go into more detail about Edwin’s growth as a player, and is this the type of player you thought he was going to be when he first came here?

“I was assistant GM when he first came here, and I didn’t know him, he was very quiet. I remember talking to Romero one of the offseason’s about Edwin specifically and he said, ‘I love him, he’s a great teammate.’ I don’t get to see that all the time in the clubhouse. You get to see the teammates around him, and he is a quiet leader.

“The way he has committed himself with respect to his body, work ethic, doing everything that we’ve needed him to do. I think that is where the maturity comes from. We had a long talk when Adam Lind got sent down, and him [Encarnacion] and Yunel Escobar were sitting in the locker late one night, the game was well over — it was probably midnight — and I talked to him and said, ‘When you got sent down two years ago, I’m sure you didn’t like me a hell of a whole lot.’ I said ‘You think as hard as it was it helped you,?’ and he said ‘Yeah it probably did.’

“I think maybe sometimes when you hit rock bottom, and I haven’t played obviously, but I think that is where you find the inner strength, you really find out what someone is made of. I remember when he went down there, he had a guaranteed contract, probably going to be upset. The reports we got back from the staff in Las Vegas were unbelievable. Said Edwin was going out everyday, early work. He went down there and hit .400, his attitude was unreal. It is rare, he could have sat there and said ‘Woe is me’ and put his head down, but he kept fighting. You talk about the game, it is a game of failure, you have to have that resolve and that ability to fight, cause guys have bad seasons, guys get hurt. If you quit on yourself, you won’t get very far. But I think, that was a telling sign for me, as a general manager, of what the makeup was like in terms on work ethic, and his competitiveness, and his desire, and his drive.

“You do these deals, and it comes down to trust. Do I trust the player? The ability is there — all those guys in that clubhouse have a ton of ability,. But do you trust someone to put in the work, put in the time, and really care, and he certainly met all those things.”

Was Draft-pick compensation something you considered?

“It doesn’t make any sense. We’re not at that point, especially with a 29-year-old guy that is finally starting to come into his own. He could have certainly been an All-Star, and hopefully he will be next year and going forward. Draft-pick compensation was never even a component. Guys like this, you are praying you get those guys in the Draft.”

Are you sending a message with the Edwin signing?

“No, it’s no knock on players in the clubhouse, but this is the right move for this organization, whether there is nobody in that clubhouse, or anybody in that clubhouse. This is a really good player, this is a middle-of-the-order bat, a tandem with Jose in the middle. I think anybody would want to bring this guy back, sign him back. From that standpoint, it’s a no-brainer to try to extend him.

“We have always said, if we have good players, especially our own, we are going to try to extend them and try to keep them, and so far we have been able to keep everybody. I think it’s encouraging that everyone has wanted to stay. Whether that is a credit to the clubhouse staff, the travel staff, the front office, the staff on the field, the fact that we have created an environment that these guys want to stay here and they believe in what we are doing, that is just a bonus for us.

“It’s not a bad thing that players can see, if you can work hard, and you have been where he has been, you can be rewarded. And maybe that is something that some of the players can take from it. … You can come out of this and get an extension if you play well and we want you to stay, and you want to stay, we will be able to get something done.”

Is it a good thing with what Bautista said?

“I know a lot was made of that. But I don’t want our players with a sense of apathy. I want our players to be all about winning. I have seen it the other way when guys don’t care. I don’t want Jose to ever lose that, he knows that. We have a great relationship, we talk all the time. He speaks from his heart. But I think one thing that was lost a little bit, is that he feels he is an advocate for the club, an advocate for Canada, an advocate for playing here and he is the biggest supported of this city and the market. He tries to get the word out, too. Jose does a lot behind the scenes to try to promote the team, the organization, the players. He does believe in every player in that clubhouse, and that is something I love to see as a general manager.

“Some people might try to take it and spin it,but I don’t see it that way

Does Bautista speaking up push you to do something?

“No, because I want to win just as much as everybody else. It doesn’t change my mindset, or what we are going to look to do as an organization.

“I do want all 25 guys in that clubhouse to think about one thing only — winning, and having a chance to get into the playoffs, and that should be the goal.”

Aaron Loup Q+A

Left-hander Aaron Loup is set to become the 26th different pitcher used by the Blue Jays this season when he eventually makes his debut. Here’s what the 24-year-old rookie left-hander had to say about being called up from Double-A New Hampshire:

Aaron Loup:

Were you surprised by the call?

“Kind of surprised, but kind of not surprised, because unfortunately Luis (Perez) went down. Sso I just kind of thought I might have had a slight chance. Didn’t really know if I was going to get it for sure or not but I was pitching well so I thought I had a chance. Then, they called me in yesterday right when I got back from the All-Star Game and told me I was coming up. A little surprised, yeah shocked, excited, but overall ready to go.

So you obviously were paying attention to the injury woes up here…

“We pay close attention because if anybody goes down we get a shot. But it’s unfortunate that’s how we got to get it but we’ll take it, take our chance.”

Chance to talk to Farrell yet about role?

“I talked to him earlier today when I first got here. Basically, just come in, face left-handers for the most part and just contribute any way that I can.”

How would you describe yourself?

“Sidearm lefty, throw 90-93, big slider, changeup. That’s about it. Just try to go after guys and get people out however I can.”

Were you always sidearm?

“When I got drafted, I was kind of a mid three quarters and then they raised me up and that didn’t go so well. Then they just dropped me back down and ever since then that’s where it has been.”

Did you go down lower?

“Yeah, a little bit. I’m probably more sidearm now, lower three quarters sidearm, whereas before I was probably mid-to-high three quarters so a little bit lower than I was.”

Better command that way or better action that way?

“Just better stuff. The stuff on my ball got a lot more movement, a lot more life, better command too.”

How will you feel first time out?

“Probably a lot of nerves, lot of excitement, just probably real anxious. I actually got to experience it a little bit in Spring Training. They let me throw the night game against the Yankees. I got to close that game, and I was pretty nervous that day too. I had a little taste. Nothing like it’ll probably be tonight or the next night, whenever I get a chance to get in there. But I’m looking forward to it.”

What are your baseball roots?

“The people that influenced me were probably my grandpa and my dad. That’s ever been since I could walk, with a bat and ball in my hand. That’s basically all I ever did. Played a little football, but other than that, for the most part it was just all baseball all the time.”

Before the season, did you think this might be your year for callup?

“It was definitely a goal. I thought if I could pitch well consistently all season long that I could have a chance maybe for a September call-up or something. I wasn’t really expecting to be here this early. But I’ll definitely take it.”

In Reading, PA for Double-A All-Star Game when you found out?

“I found out yesterday right when we flew into Portland to meet the team, because we were playing the Sea Dogs. Sal called me in the office. I had just started unpacking my bag, and the pitching coach comes in and he says, ‘Don’t unpack. Come here for a second.’ I was like, ‘What’s going on? Hopefully it’s good.’ I was hoping it was good. Then they called me in and they told me, ‘You’re going up.’ I was like, ‘All right. It’s a good deal.’

John Farrell:

On Loup…

“He has adjusted his slot a little bit lower. In Spring Training when we had him he was more of a three quarter arm slot. I can’t say that he’s fully a side armer but it’s added to the sweep to his breaking ball against a left-hander and he has pitched very effectively not only the times we saw him in Spring Training but through the first two and a half, three months in New Hampshire.”

Situational kind of reliever or someone you’re looking to get multiple innings out of?

“He has gone up to two innings but given the arm slot, he has weapons to attack right-handers. He has been pitching 91-93 and I know velocity is not everything but just the arm slot and talking to the Double-A staff, we’ll pick some spots where those matchups might be a little bit more favorable to him right now.”

Q+A with Sam Dyson and John Farrell

Sam Dyson:

How did you find out you were getting the call up?

“Kevin Howard hit a walk-off home run, and we were walking in the line after the game, and Sal [Fasano] told me to come to his office. I thought I was in trouble, but obviously I wasn’t.”

Was it surreal when you heard you were going to the big leagues?

“Yeah, I kind of asked him to repeat it. It was a good thing to hear from him”

John Farrell said you may have the best stuff in the organization … what does that mean to you?

“It means a great deal, especially coming off of Tommy John surgery in 2010. Just working hard to come back, hopefully I’ll be able to contribute up here.”

What expectations did you have after the Tommy John?

“Three months ago I was in Dunedin starting, so I thought I was going to be there most of the year. I thought I might eventually come up to New Hampshire in the second half of the season, but it happened after the first month. I was into a bullpen role, and it kind of blossomed from there.”

You thought starting was going to be the plan for you?

“That’s what I thought, yeah, because I would have more of a routine every five days, workout schedule, all that. Now it’s a little bit different.”

How was the adjustment to the bullpen?

“It has been pretty good. I haven’t been able to workout the same, as intense. But I mean, staying with the rehab kind of stuff, and all the maintenance programs, I did that pretty much everyday, so everything is fine.”

How did you respond to the order to move to bullpen?

“I think I responded pretty well. I mean, starting you can kind of, not cruise through a few innings, but you can kind of find it. In the ‘pen you can’t really find it — you either have it or you don’t. And if you don’t have it, you’re out of there in a few pitches. And if you have it, you’re out of there in a few pitches. One is better than the other.”

“Pound the fastball and hopefully they hit it on the ground somewhere. I’m not a big strikeout guy. I try to get people out early in the count.”

Why was the switch made?

“No idea. I think there was a need for it.”

Organizational need?

“No, a need in New Hampshire. I think one of the guys was injured or something, I’m not too sure.”

Long term, would you like to start?

“It doesn’t matter to me, as long as I’m playing. I’ll play outfield, who knows.”

Where did you think you would go in draft if you hadn’t suffered the injury?

“My nerve flipped in 2007 or 2006, one or the other. Then I had bone spurs, minor shoulder surgery.

“Same spot, I guess. I was a 19th-rounder out of high school, then a 10th-rounder, then a fourth-rounder. Pretty much the same thing all three times.”

Sink in?

“A little but when I was in the locker-room today but I don’t think it really will until Chicago, or tonight. It just happened all so fast and trying to soak it all up.

Nerve flipped?

 “That’s just an ulnar nerve transposition where they take the nerve from your funny bone and flip it over. That’s all it is. It’s pretty minor

TJ Oct 2010

“I didn’t get back until instructs, I was set back in September right before instructs, so I didn’t participate in instructs until 2011, and I didn’t start throwing in games until spring training.

Low points?

 “Probably around 11 months, I had a setback and I didn’t feel the same, it took probably three or four months for it to get better. It obviously has.

First call?

 “My parents actually flew up to Manchester on July 3, they were going to stay the week there and go to the all-star game in Reading the following week with me. They were there so I walked over to the hotel after the game and shared the news with them, my mom started jumping up and down.

Specific help?

“Pretty much all the staff, a lot of the coaches have had Tommy John surgery before, they know what to expect, they went through it and give you little advice here and there. The training staff has gone through hundreds of them, so they give you all the exercises to do and plenty of knowledge on it.”

John Farrell:

Why Dyson…

“All reports by development staff is that he’s ready to help at the Major League Level. Power stuff, maybe the best overall stuff in our organization.”

That’s high praise…

“Going into the Draft, his Draft year from South Carolina, he profiled and had the potential as a No. 1 pick but some injuries forced his Draft status to drop a little bit, evident by what we drafted him under the conditions and the need for Tommy John surgery at the time. He’s obviously come back healthy and the stuff has returned.”

Pitching at all last year or just recovery?

“All rehab last year.”

At extended Spring?

“He was in the extended all of last year. He was in Dunedin basically the whole year rehabbing and then was in the starting rotation in Dunedin as I’m sure you’ve seen and then in a controlled relief setting in New Hampshire. Two innings, two days off and then moved him into the closer’s role where he has been every other day. Has not gone back-to-back and we would hold off on doing that as well here for the time being.

“But he has the ability and the potential that many people feel that can come in and do what we’re looking for and that’s that seventh inning, down a run. Depending on who is available on a given day, has the stuff to pitch here and pitch successfully.”

Plan all along for him to relieve? Starting in Dunedin to stretch him out?

“Had him in the starting role for the added recovery days and a controlled pitch count. In addition to being able to work inbetween starts on his secondary stuff and more importantly to get him into a normal routine. But the four days of recovery inbetween are the primary reason. Once he passed all of those physical tests then we always had a view of him as a power arm reliever and then the conversion to the bullpen when he went to New Hampshire took place.”

When did he first come onto your personal radar?

“His name started to come up about four weeks ago in conversation when he moved to Double-A. In that timeframe, he has pitched very well with New Hampshire.”

What does his repertoire consist of?

“He has four pitches. A fastball that’s going to be 93-98 with some heavy sink. Some breaking balls that have good depth to them and sharpness to them. His slider is that 85-90, curveball 82-85. These are all numbers that are above Major-League average but he has pitched primarily with a sinking fastball and has been very efficient.”

Described as a bullpen Henderson Alvarez. Is that fair?

“Probably a better breaking ball and might have more sink at times. But, yeah, I think as a visual, good starting point.”

Is he a guy you’d bring in for a double play situation?

“In talking with him, I think to get his feet on the ground he would be coming in for some clean innings first. I’m sure he’s going to be vibrating when he walks onto the mound for the first couple of times.”

Saw him as a reliever… is that a long-term vision as well?

“I think initially his durability will indicate that but at least now in shorter stints that can potentially be controlled to make sure he gets proper rest, that’s the approach right now.”

Stroman officially signs

I’ve been off for a few days so apologies for the lack of activity on the blog recently but as always the main articles from myself and associate reporter Chris Toman can be found on the main Blue Jays site even when there are periods of inactivity on here.

First-round pick Marcus Stroman officially signed with the Blue Jays on Tuesday — Toronto now has all of its draft picks taken in the first 10 rounds under contract. Here’s what Stroman said about becoming a Blue Jay:

Stroman:

“Just start off by saying how excited I am to have this opportunity. It has been awhile, happy that the process is now over and I can finally start my career as a Blue Jay. I’m looking forward to getting up to (Class-A) Vancouver pretty soon here, playing with that team and time to start my journey.”

Any reason for the delay in signing?

“I think it was the business of negotiations. I was out of it. It was something that was done by my agents who were taking care of. It was just them trying to get me the best deal that they could and it ended up working out earlier than expected. I’m kind of excited just to get going.”

Haven’t pitched in official games since May. Where are you at right now in terms of being ready to go?

“I’m in mid-season form. I’ve been long-tossing two or three times a week back home. Throwing two-to-three bullpens a week. I’m in the same shape as if I had been playing the whole time. So, I’m ready to go.”

Talked with Anthopoulos yet about the plan for you?

“I’ve had the opportunity to talk to him. It’s get to Vancouver pretty soon here, hopefully be there for a couple of weeks depending on how I pitch and then go to Manchester in Double-A and then it just depends on how I pitch from there on. We’ll see.”

Did they mention anything about a possible call-up later this year?

“They said that there’s a possibility. Throwing again, it’s just going to go off my success of how I pitch in these next couple of weeks in Vancouver and then Double-A but they definitely didn’t rule it out. They said it was a definite possibility to be up at some point this year with Toronto.”

Starting or bullpen?

“I think I’ll be working out of the bullpen in more of a relieving role. At least to start for this year.”

Your pitching coach said Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel is someone you look up to. Why’s that?

“I think he’s one of the best closers in baseball and he’s considered undersized as well. He’s 5’10, he has a stocky build similar to me and I just love his stuff. He just comes at you with his fastball and he has a wipe-out slider. So I enjoy watching him come into games and kind of shut it down.”

What have they told you about future role as a starter or reliever?

“To be honest there wasn’t much discussion about it. It was kind of whatever the Blue Jays want me to do, and I’d be more than happy to do. It just so happened that it worked out to be relieving at first and they haven’t ruled out starting down the road but for now, for this year, it’s going to be in more of a relief role.”

Which role do you prefer?

“That’s tough. I enjoy doing both. I think my personality is kind of geared towards coming in and shutting games down in the late innings. But I started at Duke and I kind of got used to that. But either or, whatever they want me to do, I’m more than willing to do.”

What part of your personality makes you a suitable fit for late relief?

“Confident, bulldog, swagger that I think will just work in late innings, which can also be applied to starting, but I think late innings fits the way I pitch.”

At 5’9, have you been told you were too short to make it as a big leaguer?

“My whole life. Ever since I started playing. So, I kind of just use that, I always keep it in the back of my head, play with a chip on my shoulder knowing I have to continually prove people wrong. I kind of live by the motto, ‘height doesn’t measure heart,’ something I’ve branded within the last year. I truly don’t believe in the whole height thing. I think that if you have it, no matter what your height is, you can pitch at whatever level as long as you have the ability and drive. It’s definitely something that’s in the back of my head always and it drives me to be even better.”

When did you first realize you could make it in baseball?

“To be honest, I’d say after my Cape Cod summer. Going into college, I was a two-way. I played shortstop, middle infield and pitched, I was kind of in the relief role but I never really focused on pitching until after my freshman year in the summer at the Cape when I had a pretty good summer. After that, playing against that high level of competition I kind of knew that I could do something more with my abilities on the mound.”

As a reliever do you cut down on the number of pitches you use?

“To be honest, that’s a good question. In the past when I relieved for Team USA and for the Cape Cod, I used two pitches because that was before I developed my other two pitches in the previous years as a starter. I think if I was going to close now, I definitely think you’ll see a four-pitch mix. I don’t see why not. I would definitely throw all four, I could throw two but I think I would be more effective using all four.”

Which pitches are you most confident in?

“All of them. I’d say definitely my fastball, that’s what I pitch off of and then I’d say slider, cutter, changeup in that order. But I have just as much confidence in my changeup as any pitch and that’s the last pitch in that order so I’m pretty confident in all of them.”

Do you think you’ll be able to make it to the big leagues this year?

“I’m going to find out in the next couple of weeks but I definitely think I can pitch at that level and that’s my ultimate goal, my dream. So I’m definitely going to pursue that and do everything I can to get there this year because that would be unbelievable.”

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