As exciting as it was to see players from the Toronto Blue Jays play such prominent roles in the World Baseball Classic, it is a relief to have those players back in Dunedin and focusing on the mission ahead: the 2013 regular season.
Toronto has to be counting its blessings that the team returned relatively unscathed, especially in comparison to injuries suffered by David Wright of the Mets, Mark Teixeira of the New York Yankees, and Hanley Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Of the nine players the Blue Jays sent to the World Baseball Classic, only third baseman Brett Lawrie had to deal with any sort of injury concern, straining a muscle in his rib cage during early exhibition play.
Still, that injury appears minor and Lawrie began playing catch again on Tuesday, as reported by Gregor Chisholm, and appears to be moving toward game action by the weekend. If all goes well, Lawrie believes he will be ready for Opening Day, when the the Blue Jays host the Indians in Toronto on April 2nd.
Opening Day starter R.A. Dickey has been back in camp for a few days and appeared in his first game action since his return, throwing two innings in a minor league contest on Tuesday. The results were solid, with Dickey giving up just 1 hit on the day. The right-hander will ramp up his workload in the coming days and try to make up for the time lost and innings limits placed upon him at the WBC.
In the process, Dickey would like to start working exclusively with the catcher who will catch him on Opening Day and perhaps beyond. On Tuesday, Dickey threw to Henry Blanco, who appears to be the favorite to win the back-up job, at least as camp breaks. Josh Thole, who caught Dickey last season in New York and came over with him in the trade with the Mets, is also vying for the position, but has Minor League options available.
Dickey’s battery mate at the WBC, J.P. Arencibia is also back in camp, and would prefer to have a say in the matter, but will instead focus on getting himself ready for the regular season as well. In two games since his return, Arencibia looks to be settled at the plate, going 4 for 7 over those two games with 4 RBI against the Astros and Orioles respectively.
Also returning shortly will be the duo of Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion, both of whom were named to the All-WBC team on Wednesday. As members of the winning Dominican Republic team, the Blue Jays are hoping that the duo brings back some of that winning spirit with them.
Reyes left camp for the WBC on a hot streak and continued that in the tournament, while Encarnacion left in a bit of a slump, but turned it on once the games started counting for something. Both Reyes and Encarnacion will be important cogs at the top of the order for the Blue Jays, and with such a star-studded roster vying for the team’s first post season berth since 1993, every game will count in 2013.
From this point forward, camp becomes a very important time. With the regular season just around the corner, is it finally time to officially get excited?