Grapefruit gripes and grins

I’m just back from watching some Grapefruit League games and I can say that the Blue Jays don’t look as good as they should. I saw three games – against the Orioles in Sarasota, the Rays in Port Charlotte, and the Red Sox in Dunedin. Jays won two of those but after today’s loss to Minnesota, they’re 11-16, second last in the American League, ahead of only the beleaguered Angels.

The good news is that Jose Bautista seems to be over his wrist problems and is hitting home runs. I saw him hit his fifth in spring training over the wall in right centre, his favourite spot. I also saw Colby Rasmus hit a dinger but I think it’s his only one so far and he’s batting somewhere below .200 so he hasn’t solved his issues. In the two games I saw when Adam Lind was DH he went 0-3 both times and looked way out of kilter. Reyes, Arencibia, DeRosa, Carbrera and Bonifacio are all hitting well. As for poor old Mike McCoy, he just doesn’t get any better, season-after-season.

Last year’s closer, Casey Janssen, pitched one inning against Boston and looked terrific – especially for someone who just had surgery. He used only eleven pitches, struck out two, and got a grounder for the third out. He was throwing 89 mph. The only other pitchers I saw do well were J.A. Happ who might end up in Triple A Buffalo anyway, and Brett Cecil who had three strikeouts in two-and-a-third innings. David Bush is on-again off-again.

What’s impossible to tell is how is the chemistry among so many new players. Even this late in spring training, the Jays are using a lot of players who have no chance of making the team so the likely starting lineup doesn’t get all that much time together. As a result, for example, I got no sense of how the infield will look with Reyes at short and either Bonifacio or Izturis at second.

But never mind, I’m no baseball writer sitting there eating free food and getting facts fed to them as well. I’m just a hopeful fan. For me, it was great to hear the ball on the bat, sit in 5,000-seat stadia where there isn’t a bad seat, and revel in the warmth of the Florida sun.

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