Jays Journal Notes: Spring Training, Marc Rzepczynski, Today's Lineup and Kyle Drabek


Finally, we have some box scores to look through, some highlights to watch, and story lines developing as spring training games begin. We can’t put too much faith in spring training performances as they rarely reflect what’s to come. Still, they do allow us to see who’s beginning the year on the right foot, and there are some jobs that are won and lost in spring training, so here are some pertinent notes from the first game of the spring:

  • If you replay MLB Gameday, you can see that Brett Cecil was in the strike zone during his entire outing (2 IP), but was leaving pitches up in the zone much of the time. That resulted in his allowing 3 hits and 1 ER.
  • Of all of the pitchers the Jays threw out there, Robert Ray was most impressive. He struck out the first hitter he faced on 3 pitches and only needed 5 pitches to induce 1 K, 1 fly out, and 1 ground out. He also threw nothing but strikes (11 of his 13 pitches), and did allow 1 ER in his short outing.
  • Jesse Carlson too a step backwards in the race for a spot in the pen as he only threw 4 of his pitches for strikes and allowed 2 walks, 1 hit and 2 ER.
  • Even worse for Carlson is the fact that all of the other pitchers behind him were also competing for spots in the pen, and all of them had excellent outings. David Purcey threw only 3 pitches to get out of his inning, all strikes, as he got Brandon Inge and Casper Wells to fly out, and Ryan Strieby to ground out. It looks as if the other pitchers in contention will have to be near perfect to beat Purcey for a spot in the pen if this start to 2011 is an indication of what’s to come.
  • Oddly enough, John McDonald and Yunel Escobar were the stars of a very lack-luster offence against the Tigers. They each managed 2 hits, and Juan Rivera managed the only extra base hit for the Jays, a double in the 4th inning.

Today’s game versus the Tigers has one particularly important component: the Marc Rzepczynski vs Jesse Litsch, 2 of the lead members in the battle for the 5th spot in the rotation. Here are their and other game notes for today:

  • It doesn’t seem like much, but having Marc Rzepczsynski leading off the game today, instead of having Litsch do so, is interesting. One would think that with the seniority, Litsch would be going out there first. Instead, Farrell and the Jays are allowing Rzepczynski to set the bar and are giving him first dibs on the outing. It’ll be interesting to see how each responds to the pressure today.
  • The lineup for the Jays today (courtesy of Gregor Chisholm via Twitter): Corey Patterson (CF), Mike McCoy (2B), Adam Lind (DH), Edwin Encarnacion (1B), Brett Lawrie (3B), Eric Thames (LF), Jose Molina (C), Moises Sierra (RF), Adeiny Hechavarria (SS).
  • Although the Tigers are using some minor league players, the core of their lineup today includes 5 regulars (2 through 6). They are still missing Miguel Cabrera in the order, something I’m certain Jays pitchers are happy to hear.
  • How Encarnacion does at 1B will be interesting to watch as Lind gets a break as the DH.
  • Is anyone else hoping that Hechavarria’s bat comes alive this spring? I know I am, so that all of the doubts can be put to bed….temporarily.

John Farrell was apparently very impressed with the first look at Deck McGuire, available here from Gregor Chisholm. He also got to see first hand how well Anthony Gose runs the bases, as he stole a base in yesterday’s ‘B’ game (managed by Farrell) and took 3rd on an error. He then scored on a ground-out. These kinds of runs are exactly what Farrell is hoping to see more of with the Jays in 2011 and beyond, and he has stated that he’ll use the hit-and-run strategy more often when the count is favorable to it.

For anyone who is slightly interested in Kyle Drabek or Roy Halladay, you’ll want to get your eyes set on Monday’s game as they face one another for the first time. Each will lead off for their squads and will only throw 2 innings, but it still remains a nice moment as the Jays start to reap the benefits of the trade. I’m sure that Drabek will have “just a few” butterflies as he faces off against the best pitcher in Jays history, so it’ll be interesting to watch and see how he handles the pressure. The fact that Drabek will face some of his old team mates in Philadelphia will surely also get his adrenaline going. If anything, it’ll make all future outings that much easier to handle since there won’t be such a big story linked to it.

Update: Drabek’s start has now been pushed back due to a sore neck, so he won’t be facing off against the Phillies or Roy Halladay after all. So, the only story remaining is the fact that the Jays will be facing off against one of the league’s best pitchers and their old team mate (for some). Hopefully it’s a short lay off for Drabek, as he still needs to gain some momentum before we get into the season if he’s going to earn a spot in the rotation.

- MG

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