Blue Jays Morning Brew: First Day of Spring Training, Dioner Navarro, and more
As far as first days of Spring Training go, it would be hard to argue that the 2015 edition was not one of the most anticipated in Toronto Blue Jays team history. Given the offseason acquisitions and the longest active playoff drought in Major League Baseball, not to mention a pretty snowy and cold winter, it is fairly easy to understand that fans are gigged up for some baseball.
It goes without saying that if the rest of the season remains as interesting as the first day of camp, the 2015 season will be more than worth the price of admission.
On a day known for the phrase “Pitchers and Catchers Report”, the circus was conveniently focused on the catching situation. Specifically, the elephant in the room created by having three catchers vying for two spots on the roster and one wanting his ticket out the door.
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The day started off with some interesting bullpen arrangements, which we noted early on, with R.A. Dickey throwing to Josh Thole and Russell Martin handling Daniel Norris. The astute eyes focused quickly on this as a possible sign that the Jays were leaning toward keeping Josh Thole. However, John Gibbon cleared that up later in the morning by noting that Russell Martin will handle the chores of catching Dickey from “here on out” so the team can determine if he is up to the task (h/t Andrew Stoeten).
Of course, Martin is a fixture of the Blue Jays plans for 2015, as discussed by Scott MacArthur of TSN. Martin’s ability to handle the knuckle-ball will go a long way toward determining the catching corps this season, as it could negate the need for Josh Thole as a whole. However, there is another factor that could determine Thole’s fate on the team.
As Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com noted, incumbent starter Dioner Navarro came to camp and reiterated to the on-hand press that he would still like to be traded to a team where he has the chance to start.
"“I asked for a trade right away, and up to today, that’s still my goal,” Navarro said. “I would like to go to a place where I can play every day. I already know that I can do it. – Dioner Navarro (h/t Gregor Chisholm)"
Of course, the team tried to oblige that request, but was insistent upon getting something back that would help the Jays as well, as Alex Anthopoulos told Prime Time Sports. However, the team was unable to find a partner willing to give them what he deemed as fair value and a trade never came to fruition. Instead, the team will assess things this spring, and perhaps find a trade partner before Opening Day or at some point during the regular season.
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That’s going to create a potentially awkward situation until it gets resolved. Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star speaks about how the Blue Jays need to put it to bed quickly. It isn’t fair to Navarro, but he understands it is just part of the business and that it wasn’t a reflection on his contributions from a season ago as much as it was an opportunity to land a guy like Russell Martin.
Of course, the catching situation didn’t dominate the news yesterday, just a good portion of it. Bob Elliott of the Toronto Sun took a few minutes to put together the Blue Jays spring by the numbers. A few are particularly biting, in particular the note that neither of the team’s two first round picks will suit up in games at any point this spring. Jeff Hoffman is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will see his first game action in May if everything continues as it has. Meanwhile, Max Pentecost recently underwent his 2nd shoulder operation and won’t resume throwing a baseball until May at the earliest. Of course, the 22 years since making the postseason isn’t entirely fun to read either.
Finally, if you missed anything from the Jays Journal team yesterday, we discussed a couple of items that didn’t revolve around the catching situation as well.
– Jays Nest Podcast (Video) – Arik Sikula guest and discussion on the minor leagues
– Where there’s (Justin) Smoak, there could be fire
– Blue Jays looking for a better approach at the plate
All of that is just day 1 of Spring Training? Stay tuned as we keep you up to date on all things as they shake out. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook (click the buttons below) for updates throughout the spring and the regular season.