Blue Jays Spring Training: Roster Spot Battles Update

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Mar 5, 2015; Sarasota, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Daniel Norris (32) pitches during the second inning of a spring training baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports


The Fifth Starter:

After outings by Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada and Daniel Norris, the “most interesting man in baseball” looks to have the inside track on the fifth starter job. Again, because it’s so early in Spring Training, it’s difficult to draw conclusions, but Norris Impressed on Thursday evening by striking out two batters with one walk in and 1 and 2/3rds innings of work against the Baltimore Orioles. As was noted by Jays Journal this past week, in his post-game interview Norris mentioned that after walking Adam Jones he made a mechanical adjustment that helped him get back on track and post a scoreless outing. For the 21 year old super prospect to notice inconsistencies in his mechanics and then to have the awareness to fix them while on the mound certainly should not be overlooked. It’s a fantastic sign for Jays fans that their potential future ace is demonstrating a very mature approach to his Spring Training campaign and looking great on the mound while doing so. 

Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays /

Toronto Blue Jays

Aaron Sanchez started the first game of Spring Training on Tuesday afternoon and although posting a less than impressive 1 and 1/3rds innings of 4 hit, 4 run ball (including a home run to Pirates slugger Pedro Alvarez), I thought Sanchez looked pretty good until he was victimized by some questionable calls behind the plate and poor defence. Only 2 of those 4 runs were earned, and Sanchez appeared to be cruising through the first inning until Josh Donaldson made a mess of a routine ground ball that would have been the third out.

However, more than each 5th starter candidate’s performance in Spring Training, the job may be handed to Norris out of circumstance. It’s been reported that Brett Cecil is experiencing some inflammation in his throwing shoulder. Although Cecil is expected to resume throwing next week, it’s unclear what this means for Sanchez and Estrada who may need to provide some stability to an already thin bullpen. If Cecil’s injury persists and he is not ready for Opening Day, it’s likely that Sanchez and Estrada will be counted upon in the bullpen. Sanchez will likely resume his late inning relief work and might even be considered as a stop-gap closer until Cecil is ready. 

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  • Second Base:

    Jays Journal took an in depth look into the second base battle earlier this week and it appears as though this competition is wide open. The Jays are giving Devon Travis every opportunity to win the job, leading the Jays’ entire roster with 10 at bats through 4 games. Although Travis is yet to record a hit, the Jays appear hopeful that the former Detroit Tigers #1 prospect can show he’s worthy of having his path to the majors accelerated in 2015.

    In contrast to Travis’ early batting woes, Ryan Goins has started Spring Training off in impressive style, hitting 3-7 including an RBI triple to right-center in yesterday’s game. Goins has shifted between shortstop and second base and my feeling is that the Jays know what they have in the 27-year old defensive specialist. Right now, Goins might be the early candidate for winning the reserve middle infielder job. However, if Goins continues to hit well, John Gibbons will have a good problem on his hands with multiple options at second base to start the 2015 season.

    Maicer Izturis started off the favourite to win the second base job and has only appeared in 2 games and 3 at bats. Because of Izturis’ vast experience in the Major Leagues, it feels like the Jays know what they will get from the veteran and are giving more opportunities to Travis and Goins to showcase their skills. Still, I would continue to consider Izturis as the favourite. Unless Travis really begins to impress at the plate and proves he is major league ready, the likely scenario is that the Jays start with Izturis as the opening Day second baseman with Goins as the reserve middle infielder and Travis being sent to AAA to continue to hone his skills.

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