Spring Postcard: Blue Jays set to begin post-Halladay era
He's not sure where it came from, but tucked behind the nameplate above
The comparisons will be inevitable: Halladay, the longtime ace that new general manager
Of all the young pitchers, veteran Toronto reliever
And so Drabek,
Last week, on the same afternoon when Halladay tossed two brilliant innings in his Phillies debut against the Yankees down the road in Clearwater, Drabek was a bit rockier, yielding two runs on three hits in two innings during his first spring appearance. But, considering that the Jays aren't likely to compete this year, Frasor says the pressure is off Drabek. "He doesn't have to make it happen this year," Frasor says.
But Toronto fans may be getting impatient: The Jays have neither made the playoffs nor won 90 games in a season since their World Series titles of 1992 and '93. Such is life in the AL East.
"I want to see Travis Snider do really well this year, because everyone knows the potential that he has," Hill says. "Last year he didn't make adjustments fast enough to catch up with big league pitchers. That's because he's young, he's only 22 years old. That just comes with experience."
One thing's for sure: Snider won't be impressing with his speed. Not only he has been caught stealing more times (17) than he's been successful (14) in the minors, he tried telling a few coaches that a gazelle was spotted during sprints last week, reportedly seen wearing his No. 45. One of the coaches, however, shot him down -- at least somewhat in jest -- saying that it was more like a hippo on the loose.
Two of Toronto's recent promising starters --
Marcum, who had Tommy John surgery in Sept. '08, is farther along and advanced as far as one Triple A start at the end of last season. He then pitched in the instructional league in September and October, which he called the "turning point" of his recovery. At 28, he's the senior member of the young Jays staff and the leading candidate to get the ball on Opening Day. "It feels like a new arm, so I'm ready to go," he says.
They do not yet have an appointed closer -- it's a three-way battle between Frasor, lefty
"We have had some great bullpens since I got here in '04, but I think this is going to be the best," Frasor says. "We've got lefties, we've got righties, we've got power arms. We don't have that
Gregg has the most experience, with 85 saves, and when he's on the mound, "He don't look real nice," Walton says. "He brings an aggressiveness. He goes after hitters with his best two pitches and tries to get it done in a hurry."
The veteran Buck was signed away from the Royals to work with Toronto's young pitching staff, which on Opening Day will likely feature
Gonzalez, meanwhile, is a solid defensive stopgap at shortstop after
Hill, fresh of a monster season in which he had 36 homers and 108 RBIs, says he followed the same workout routine as last season "to a T. Not that I'm superstitious or anything." ... Walton's goal for replacing Halladay's 230 innings per year average -- about 40 innings more than most starters -- is to have the rest of rotation members increase their innings by 10 ... Lind noted that one underrated aspect of the AL East is how good the bullpens are and how much power there is at the bottom of each lineup -- guys who can "not necessarily just hit a single here and there, but really put their team in the lead." ... An Indiana native, Lind went to a couple of Colts games and some Pacers games in the offseason, but for the latter he said he went primarily to see opponents like the Celtics and Cavaliers ... Marcum says he uses the Super Bowl as his calendar benchmark to know when it's time to leave his Kansas City home for spring training in Dunedin.