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Updated pitching schedule

March 1 @ Baltimore:

Drew Hutchison (two innings)
Ricky Romero (one-to-two innings)
Marcus Stroman (two innings)
Tomo Ohka (one-to-two innings)
Deck McGuire (one-to-two innings)
Neil Wagner (one inning)

Extras — Rob Rasmussen, Marcus Walden, Ryan Tepera, Randy Boone
Side work — R.A. Dickey, Dustin McGowan

March 2 vs New York Yankees:

Esmil Rogers (two innings)
Todd Redmond (two-to-three innings)
Brett Cecil (one inning)
Aaron Loup (one inning)
Jeremy Jeffress (two innings)
Chad Jenkins (one inning)

Extras — Rob Rasmussen, Marcus Walden, Liam Hendriks
Side work — Brandon Morrow, Aaron Sanchez, Sergio Santos, Steve Delabar

March 3 @ Minnesota:

J.A. Happ (two-to-three innings)
Dustin McGowan (two innings)
Kyle Drabek (two innings)
Sean Nolin (one inning)
Mickey Storey (one inning)

Extras
 — Rob Rasmussen, Marcus Walden, Deck McGuire
Side work — Marcus Stroman, Ricky Romero, Casey Janssen, Tomo Ohka

March 4 @ Philadelphia:

R.A. Dickey (three-to-four innings)
Sergio Santos (one inning)
Steve Delabar (one inning)
Neil Wagner (one inning)
Marcus Walden (one inning)
Liam Hendriks (one-to-two innings)

Extras
 — Deck McGuire, Chad Jenkins, Rob Rasmussen
Side work — Drew Hutchison, Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers, Brett Cecil

Bautista’s first availability of the spring

Lack of health last two years…
“I know that both injuries I had, the ones that actually took me out of the lineup for an extended period of time were from impact plays or a freak accident with the wrist. It’s not because I was neglecting my training regime or anything like that but it is disappointing and it is upsetting that I don’t get to go out there and finish the season with the team or finish strong. That has been the case in the last two years so hopefully it doesn’t happen again.”

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Anthopoulos holds court

Adding rotation depth?
“We’d like to do it but we’re not going to do it at all costs. As we sit here today I think it’s unlikely at this point, we’re getting so late into spring training. Unlikely unless a trade emerges, but again. As the offseason has progressed, we’ve felt better about the internal options, especially the young guys, whether it’s a guy like Stroman, Drew Hutchison, Kyle Drabek. Brandon Morrow looks great. We felt good about him in November but as he’s progressed through the offseason, we feel even better about him. That being said, if something presented itself, we’d love to do it. We just haven’t been able to find anything that works for us.”

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Early impressions from camp

I’ve been in Florida for less than a week and I’ve already changed my opinion on several key issues surrounding the Blue Jays during this year’s Spring Training. There are only a handful of jobs up for grabs this spring but those competitions should be rather interesting to watch as these next few weeks unfold.

I arrived in Dunedin with a few predictions in mind. The first was that Drew Hutchison was going to win the final spot in the rotation and that Josh Thole would be the back-up behind the plate with the main purpose of becoming R.A. Dickey‘s personal catcher.

Unlike previous springs, it hasn’t taken very long for me to change my tune and here are some of the reasons why:

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John Gibbons on the first workout day

On Morrow’s bullpen…
It’s just good to see him out there, it’s been awhile. The thing I’m most impressed with, you look at him, he has put on a lot of weight, muscle. He looks strong, he looks like you’re supposed to look and last year he didn’t look like that. He looks like a good strong, durable starting pitcher. The fact that he’s out there and feels good, is big for us.

On performance of SP last April/May…
Today is the last day I’m going to talk about last year, but last year we didn’t play very well in any phase of the game early on. We didn’t play very good defense, hitting was sporadic and we struggled in the rotation. That leads to how we started the season. But these guys have a lot of pride, expect most of them to bounce back. We had some real good performances on the year, at the end of it, with Dickey, Buehrle, some of those guys. Rasmus, Eddie, some really good years but as a team it was a struggle. We have to go about our business and answer some questions.

On SP depth chart…
We have a good idea. We have some good depth now. Drabek’s back, Hutch is back, we feel good about that. Stroman is on the move. Sanchez, we think will come quick. We have some options whereas last year we didn’t have that many. Hopefully you don’t need that many but the reality of the game is you might. The depth is definitely better, whoever wins that last spot, we’ll see, but it’ll be a nice little competition. McGowan’s in the mix now, we’re going to try and stretch him out and see how that works. We like the way it looks, we really do, but we still have to go out and do it.

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Spring Training offically opens

There wasn’t a whole lot of activity on Day 1 of the Spring Training but that’s to be expected. The purpose of the first day doesn’t really have anything to do with baseball at all — at least not the on-field component of it. All of the Blue Jays pitchers and catchers went through their physicals and by the sounds of it everything went as expected.

The physicals took place in Tampa, which meant only a handful of players were seen at the club’s stadium in nearby Dunedin. R.A. Dickey was one of those guys and he went through a light game of catch while several other players including closer Casey Janssen were working out but for the most part Spring Training doesn’t really get underway tomorrow.

That’s when more news will start to trickle in but free agent addition Dioner Navarro was one of those who talked to the media today and here’s what he had to say about getting another opportunity to become a full-time catcher:

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Spring Training is almost here…

The blog went into a hiatus over the long winter months but it will be back in action next week with the official start of Spring Training. While you’re waiting, please check out the Spring Training preview articles that are available on the main site. It was a four-part series that started on Monday and came to an end Friday.

There’s a big Spring Training preview which takes a closer look at the battles to watch in camp plus in depth looks at the starting rotation, bullpen and lineup. I’ll start filing articles from Dunedin so as always check bluejays.com for the latest news and updates. You can also follow me on Twitter @gregorMLB. As always, most of the content will appear on the official bluejays.com  and mlb.com website but throughout camp there will be some odds and ends on the blog as well. Whether it’s expanded transcripts or my thoughts on what’s happening in Blue Jays land this is where you can find it. 

The priority, though, will always be the main sites and regardless what happens here on North of the Border there will be a daily feature and in depth notebook which can be found there every day this spring. But I’ll also do my best to expand on that daily coverage with some additional analysis on the blog as well.

Coverage starts Sunday… here’s to an enjoyable season!

Winter Meetings wrap

The Winter Meetings have officially come to an end but not before a Thursday morning that included the minor signing of RHP Tomo Ohka and also the Rule 5 Draft. When the Draft wrapped up, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos made himself available to the media for one last scrum at the Walt Disney Swan & Dolphin Resort.

Here’s some of what he had to say:

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Potential three-team trade negotiations?

There’s already been one report from these Winter Meetings about the Blue Jays being involved in a three-team trade but it was something that actually happened several weeks ago. According to a report by FoxSports from earlier in the week, Toronto was on the verge of trading Sergio Santos to the Rangers as part of a three-way deal but another player involved failed a physical and the negotiations came to an abrupt end.

Perhaps that previous speculation was one of the reasons that three-team trades have become a hot topic lately. But the White Sox, Diamondbacks and Angels completed one Tuesday afternoon and Anthopoulos hasn’t ruled out making a similar type of move in the future. It’s certainly not his preferred way of doing business, though, and here’s why.

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Random thoughts from Day 3

It has been a predictably slow Winter Meetings so far for Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos and the rest of his staff. Anthopoulos cautioned in the days leading up to the meetings that it appeared unlikely Toronto would make any major moves here in Central Florida. That would still appear to be the case with only one day remaining until clubs return home and continue to plot their next moves.

Even though there haven’t been any official transactions to talk about there have still be some interesting developments at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin Resort. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the things making headlines:

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