Blue Jays: Spring Training Notes and News

SARASOTA, FL- MARCH 08: Lourdes Gurriel
SARASOTA, FL- MARCH 08: Lourdes Gurriel /

With the Jays playing their final televised Spring Training contest before heading to Montreal, there have been many interesting developments out of Dunedin. Among them are the emergence of Tyler Clippard, a great showing from some new additions, and a slew of minor leaguers being optioned to minor league camp.

Clippard Coming in Hot

Since being signed to a minor league deal two weeks ago, reliever Tyler Clippard has been surprisingly solid in spring action thus far. In four innings, he’s recorded five strikeouts and given up just two hits and one earned run, good enough for a 2.25 ERA. Although the sample size is small, Sportsnet’s Mike Wilner predicts that Clippard will be on the major league squad to start the season. Steamer projections have him appearing in 35 games this season, with a 4.80 ERA in 35.0 total innings.

Clippard struggled last year, pitching to a 4.77 ERA in 60.1 frames in a rollercoaster season that took him to New York, Chicago, and Houston. In Clippard, John Gibbons has a capable, veteran righty in the pen, who along with fellow reliever John Axford, has joined the team on a low-risk deal. Along with hotshot closer Roberto Osuna, the veteran duo will join Danny Barnes, Ryan Tepera and Seung-hwan Oh in the pen.

More from Jays Journal

Espinosa, Smoak Shine in Sunday Victory

Newly signed infielder Danny Espinosa and Justin Smoak headlined the score sheet of Sunday’s 5-2 victory in Dunedin against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Espinosa knocked in a run with a single in the 8th, while Smoak slammed a long home run to drive in two.

Espinosa, who was signed by the team just days ago as a depth option for the middle infield, previously spent time in Washington, Tampa Bay, Seattle and Los Angeles. Prior to signing with the Jays, he appeared briefly for the Yankees in their spring training camp, but was released on March 12.

Also a bright spot on the afternoon was J.A. Happ, who went six strong innings allowing one run on four hits, with five strikeouts. Happ, who is likely the Opening Day starter for the Jays, showed fantastic location and excellent fastball command. Roberto Osuna made an appearance as well, tossing a full inning allowing one run on one hit. Luis Santos and Tyler Clippard also pitched one scoreless inning each, with Clippard earning the save.

Jansen, Gurriel, Urena Sent to Minors

Among those optioned to minor league camp this past week were Lourdes Gurriel, Danny Jansen and Richard Urena. While none of the above were expected to make the team in April, they were certainly given some opportunity to show off this spring.

Gurriel appeared in 14 games, Jansen in 10, and Urena in 16. The most successful was Gurriel, who hit .292 in 24 at-bats, stealing a base and collecting nine total bases. All three are expected to make some kind of contribution to the major league team this season, with Gurriel an especially interesting name to watch as the season progresses and the Jays’ long term plans become more clear.

Next: The legend of Vlad Guerrero Jr. continues to grow