It is here, it is finally here. After a long winter of talk and little action, fans can finally rejoice that baseball is back!
The Toronto Blue Jays open up their Spring Training Schedule today with an afternoon tilt against the Philadelphia Phillies in Clearwater, Florida at 1:05pm EST. Regardless of the inactivity of the winter, it is with open arms that we welcome back the return of our team, hoping to put the disappointments of the past two seasons behind us and start anew.
But starting anew will have a familiar look to it as we begin the 2014 spring schedule. The first line-up of the season will feature a familiar look to it, filled with names that we’ve come to know and in an order that we’ve come to expect. According to Gregor Chisholm, the first line-up of the season will be as follows:
Outside of the insertion of Navarro and Goins into this line-up, this looks eerily similar to the one the Blue Jays wanted to execute out of the gate a season ago. However, that was tossed aside almost immediately when Brett Lawrie went down with an oblique issue during the World Baseball Classic. However, this is the optimal set-up for the personnel we have on the field, as John Gibbons noted to Shi Davidi.
Gibbons on #BlueJays lineup: “We’ll see how it looks. We could always adjust some things, but it’s basically what we looked at last year."
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) February 26, 2014
The good news is that it immediately gives us some looks at both Navarro and Goins. Fans are eager to see if Navarro, who replaced incumbent and non-tendered J.P. Arencibia, can be a full-time catcher and still produce like he did a season ago, when he put up a slash-line of .300/.365/.492 with 13 home runs and 34 RBI in part-time duty with the Chicago Cubs.
Then there is Goins. The rookie second baseman looked exceptional in the field during a late season call-up in 2013, and the Blue Jays are expecting him to be a tremendous upgrade in the field. However, there are questions about whether he can hit consistently at the highest level. The Blue Jays were said to be talking about upgrading the position this winter, but ultimately felt that Goins was the answer. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
As for the pitchers, J.A. Happ is scheduled to start today’s contest, and will be followed by Todd Redmond and Kyle Drabek. Both Redmond and Drabek are battling for the 5th spot in the rotation this spring. They’ll look to top the performances of Drew Hutchison and Marcus Stroman, who received a headstart on Wednesday when they started opposite each other in the team’s intrasquad game.
For his part, Happ appears to be locked into the fourth spot in the rotation. However, if we remember anything from a season ago, nothing is guaranteed here, and a good camp by one of the competing starters above and a rough one by Happ could mean a change. Just ask Ricky Romero.
It’ll be nice to have real baseball back, and something substantial to talk about rather than rumors and propaganda. We’ll bring an update after the game to score how thing went.