Blue Jays’ Spring Training: The bringer of aches and pains

DUNEDIN – The Bringer of Rain was the bringer of alternative news on Saturday.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said prior to Saturday’s game against the Minnesota Twins that Josh Donaldson will be out until some time after Monday’s off day because the club’s all-star third baseman has a sore right shoulder.

“Yeah, it’s hanging a little bit,” said Gibbons. “I think the target date (is) after the off day Monday. Then he’ll be good to go. He’ll be okay. Normally he’d be out there playing some third base, it’s just something (minor). We’ll knock it out.”

Intercepted as he was heading into the clubhouse following a meeting with MLB Players Association executive director Tony Clark, Donaldson claimed, with a sly smile, that he didn’t know what Gibbons was talking about.

“Everything’s good, everything’s going well,” said Donaldson, who has appeared in two of Toronto’s nine Grapefruit League games.

“I’m just getting ready for the season right now,” he said.

MIND GAMES

The Jays had their annual spring training meeting with the MLBPA leadership, a meeting which was apparently more contentious than usual for a number of reasons — mostly the pace of play rule changes MLB is trying to push through and the fact that the owners don’t seem to want to spend money on free agents to the degree they have in the past. There are so many free agents unsigned this year that the MLBPA has set up its own training camp at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. The Jays manager and coaches met with MLB executive Joe Torre earlier this week to discuss the pace of play, including the number of visits to the mound by managers, pitching coaches and players can make.

“They’re still trying to tighten some things up before they give everybody the final (rules), but it will be interesting,” said Gibbons. “I view it just like the slide at home plate and slide at second base (rule). When those started out, I don’t think everybody was happy with it, there was a few games where some complaining was going on, but eventually it settled in.”

GAME GAB

RHP Aaron Sanchez took the mound for the second time in the Grapefruit League action as the Jays beat the Twins 13-8. It was Sanchez’s first start and he looked terrific, pitching three innings, giving up one hit – a double by Taylor Featherston in the third, though Sanchez later picked him off at first after getting a signal from catcher Russell Martin. Gibbons said the team is making a conscious effort to work on holding runners better this season.

“That was one area where we struggled last year, we didn’t do a good job of holding runners, a couple of years prior to that I thought we were very good and it just got away from us,” said Gibbons. “Guys are working on varying their times, maybe speeding some things up, shortening their stride a little bit, because I think it’s important. It’s a big part of the game, we have to give our catchers a chance.”

Sanchez also struck out two, including a K via a change up to CF Ryan LaMarre.

“I felt like for the most part the majority of (the change ups) are swing and misses or swing and ground ball outs, so if I can continue to incorporate that and keep the feel for that, I think that’s good to be a huge thing for me this year,” said Sanchez. “I threw a lot of strikes, threw a lot of quality strikes with my off speed stuff, I’m kind of glad I gave up the hit there at the end, I wasn’t trying to, but it gave me the chance to work out of the stretch, do some PFPs (Pitchers’ Fielding Practice), so, yeah, good day for sure.”

He threw 31 pitches in total, 23 for strikes.

Toronto home runs were hit by Kevin Pillar, Yangervis Solarte and Russell Martin. Pillar is hitting 7-for-10 in Grapefruit League action. OF Curtis Granderson, 36, hit a triple in the first and now has two homers and a triple in five games.

“Grandy’s always been able to hit, we’ll use him in that platoon role (in left field with Steve Pearce) and he’s making some fans already, I know that,” said Gibbons.

OF Ezequiel Carrera, who was out righted to Buffalo and invited back to camp as a non-roster invitee, smacked a single to left in his return to the Jays to lead in the eighth. IF Jon Berti, who joined the Jays from the club’s minor league camp, smacked a double to put Toronto ahead 9-8. LHP Ryan Borucki was roughed up after relieving Sanchez, giving up five hits and five runs in 1.1 IP.

AROUND THE DIAMOND

RHP Nick Tepesch has signed a minor league deal with the Jays and will report to minor league camp. Tepesch was traded to the Jays last July 23 for cash considerations and was called up from the Triple-A Buffalo on Aug. 9. He was designated for assignment on Sept. 2. Tepesch elected free agency on Oct. 6.

— Steve Buffery

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies

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