5:25 PM Eastern

The Blue Jays celebrated their return from a St. Patrick’s Day off by taking the 15-minute drive to the Phillies’ park in Clearwater, blowing a 4-1 lead and rallying from 7-4 down to tie the Phillies 7-7 in a game in which they didn’t even bother to play a 10th inning.

Evidently, Cody Haerther got the Jays within one with a two-run single in the 9th, and Angel Sanchez followed with the game-tying single to take Scott Richmond off the hook.  Evidently, because all of us were in the Jays’ clubhouse at the time, talking to Richmond.  Really, though, it was Haerther who got de-hookified, since his pair of misplays in the outfield really helped the Jays into the hole.

In the 5th inning, Jayson Werth hit a two-out liner towards the left-field line and Haerther got over in plenty of time, but the ball popped in and out of his glove.  That ended Jesse Litsch’s day after 4 2/3 innings (and 89 pitches) and in came Richmond to serve up an RBI single to Gary Majewski.  Yes, the pitcher.  Majewski kind of threw his bat at it and hit a little line drive the other way, but they all count.

Weird game, by the way, in that the Jays had a DH but the Phillies didn’t.

In the 7th inning, Eric Bruntlett led off by taking Richmond to the warning track in left, but Haerther got turned around while tracking it and the ball fell in for a double.  After a groundball and a walk, Richmond served up a three-run bomb to Werth that cleared both teams’ bullpens in left field.

Neither Litsch nor Richmond pitched especially well, but only one of them hurt his chances of going north with the team.  Well, while Richmond may not have actually hurt his chances, he certainly didn’t help them any.  He’ll get another chance soon, though.  In an effort to catch him up to the rest of the starters, the Jays will send Richmond back out on three days’ rest, piggybacking with Matt Clement on Sunday in Fort Myers.

Richmond was furious when he came back into the clubhouse after his 2 1/3 inning stint, firing his glove into his locker from across the room before going back outside to get his running in.  By the time he came back and met with the assemblage, he’d calmed down and said that he didn’t think he threw that badly.  He just would have liked the pitch to Majewski to have been in a little more.  He also mentioned that he could have gotten out of the 7th with a well-placed ground ball, as opposed to the one that Werth hit about 420 feet.

Two notes on the injury front, as both Scott Rolen and Travis Snider came out after one at-bat.  Cito said that Rolen’s back was bothering him and that Snider had hurt his knee lunging for the first-base bag on a second-inning groundout.

Kids, here’s a lesson.  With which foot do you hit first base when you’re running out a grounder?  Whichever one gets there first.  Keep running, and run hard through the bag.  If you lunge for it, not only are you slowing yourself down, but you also run the risk of landing awkwardly and tweaking a knee or an ankle, or yanking a hammy.  Aaron Hill used to do it all the time, and it scares the heck out of me every time I see it.  I haven’t seen him do it yet this spring, but it’s only spring.

Snider doesn’t need an MRI, at least not yet, though he’s not likely to play tomorrow night against the Yankees.

Jason Lane continued to make his presence felt, taking a 3-1 offering from J.A. (pronounced “Jay”, for some reason) Happ over the wall in left for his team-leading 5th homer of the spring.  Buck Coats and Aaron Hill led the Jays with all of two homers last spring.  Still, Lane isn’t going to make the team if everyone is healthy.  Vernon Wells had a few more at-bats in a minor-league game this morning, is set to play the outfield on Friday and may get into a Grapefruit League game on the weekend (it’d be Saturday, home to the Astros, because Vernon isn’t going to make the three-hour bus trip to Fort Myers Sunday), so he’s on track.  The Snider knee thing may be Lane’s ticket, but it’s hard to imagine Snider will be out four weeks if he doesn’t even need an MRI.  Still, stranger things have happened in Blue Jay land.

Jeremy Accardo pitched a perfect bottom of the 9th to help his cause for one of the open spots in the bullpen, but I didn’t see it – we were all talking to Richmond.  I’m sure he pitched very well, though.

Oh, and the press box was all a-twitter mid-game with the news that the Jays have signed Leon Boyd to a minor-league contract.  The closer for The Netherlands at the WBC, who was born in Vancouver, will report to minor-league camp in the next couple of days, and that’ll likely be the last we’ll hear from him this spring.

I had a rough morning dealing with my rental car agency (I have driven four different cars today – a Mazda 6 with a flat tire, an Avenger with no brakes, a Corolla and a Focus!).  I left the house at 9:05 and didn’t get to the ballpark until 11:55,  just in time to look at the line-up quickly and do a noon hit with Barb DiGiulio.  As a result, I didn’t get to Dunedin Stadium, where the Jays take BP whenever they have a game in Clearwater, and missed some cute interplay between Roy Halladay and Snider.  Check out Jordan Bastian’s blog for all the details.

Tomorrow, it’s a night game in Tampa.  Jays and Yankees – Casey Janssen against A.J. Burnett!  We’ll have it for you all along the Fan Radio Network starting at 7:00 PM Eastern, with a full JaysTalk afterwards.

Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome.

27 Responses to “Tying One On In Clearwater”
  1. 1.

    Great to hear (read) there’s going to be some JaysTalk postgame. I’m looking forward to catching the podcast and using it as a healthy distraction from my job. :)

    I know its early (I’m geeked up), but how do you see the lineup shaping up to start the year?



    I don’t love it the 7/8 spots, but for some reason can’t see either Snider or Overbay hitting 9th, so…

    MW: I think you flip Overbay and Snider, since Cito said Snider would be hitting 8th, but yes, that’s the way I see the line-up stacking up against righties. Not the way I’d do it, but that’s the way I think it’ll go.

    - Jeff M
  2. 2.

    Mike…Maybe Chipper Jones should seek out George Brett for his opinion on Toronto. Brett always praised our fine city and though never having sought a trade out of K.C., if it would’ve happened, Toronto was his first choice. He mentioned more than once that when he went on the road to other cities, people on the street would say unrepeatable comments to him. But in T.O. it was “Hey George how ya doin’?” And that meant a lot to him…Hey Mike, Too bad that trade that never came, didn’t occur before 1985, when he basically beat the Jays carrying the Royals on his back…What a player!! Probably my favourite player of all time from any team ( Blue Jays included)and the high regard I had for him made the collapse of the ’85 ALCS easier to take because it was mostly Brett.

    - chris m.
  3. 3.

    Does that mean you’re getting a twitter account or what?

    MW: What.

    - Dave
  4. 4.

    Hi Mike,
    To be honest , I have never really been impressed with Scott Richmond and I think the only reason why some seem to think he is a big league starter is because he is Canadian. I do not see him as a starter in the big leagues.

    Players not running through the bag at first really baffles me. To me, it is common sense that lunging or even diving to the bag will slow you down and is a huge injury risk. Why players continue to do it is beyond me.

    I would still really like to see Jason Lane on this team, somehow. However, it looks as though he may be a victim of the numbers game, unless Snyder is more seriously injured. is there any other way Lane earns a spot? I guess it would be a slim chance with Wells, Rios, Snyder, Lind already ticketed for OF duty. Also, Bautista can play out there as well.

    What have you heard on Vernon Wells’ injury? Any new prognosis?

    MW: I think people are impressed with Scott Richmond because he put up an ERA of 4.00 in his first stint in the big leagues. I don’t think he’s Cy Young, but I think he can pitch in the majors. Lane is as much a victim of his track record as he is of the numbers game. Wells has been playing minor league games and may get into a Grapefruit game by the weekend.

    - Ian
  5. 5.

    Mike, have you heard anything, rumours or otherwise, about possible trades the Jays might be involved in soon? Apart from the Rolen to the Yankees and O-Cab story a little while ago, there’s been nothing in the news. I get the feeling that JP is still looking at some kind of trade and said as much before spring training began.

    MW: I’m sure he’s trying to make a trade, but I haven’t heard anything with any teeth yet.

    - Wiffleballs
  6. 6.

    wilner, hopefully the injury to snider isnt serious, im dieing to see this kid play some more. Anyways, I dont really understand all the “experts”, saying that the jays are lacking offense, they werent saying this nearly as much in previous years, and it appears, to me at least, that they are going into this season with more power than they had last year. Snider, should be able to knock out at least 20, with hopefully 15-20 from lind. While, the jays may be lacking the longball hitting Dh, overall, i have high hopes for this offense.

    MW: My hopes aren’t high, but I do think they’ll definitely hit more than they did last year.

    - Josh
  7. 7.

    Hi Mike,

    Just wondering if you remember me and my uncle Sidney?

    I am really excited to see League in full flow this year. Snider is the other guy that I love to watch. On a scale of 1-10 how likely it is for Snider to have a 20HR 85 RBI year in 2010? 1 is highly unlikely and 10 is very likely. I think with somewhere around 300ABS this year or maybe more, he’ll be ready for a big 2010, just my opinion.

    My second question is about Miguel Cabrera. When was the last time you saw a 25 year old hitter as talented as this guy? Sky is the limit for this future hall of famer.

    MW: The answer to your first question is 9.5. As for your second, I’ve seen a ton of 25 year-olds as talented as Miguel Cabrera, it’s just that hardly any of them have achieved to the level of their talent, as Cabrera is doing.

    - Beburg
  8. 8.

    The Star said Romero and Cecil were to pitch in a minor league game yesterday; any word on how they did?

    MW: I won’t be keeping an eye on the results of minor-league games. B games, sure, but it’s impossible to keep tabs on the Vegas/New Hampshire/Dunedin games.

    - Robert
  9. 9.


    So Jason Lane doesn’t make the team if everyone is healthy. But this team won’t stay healthy and should therefore make the team. Especially in favour of a Kevin Millar.

    MW: Lane should make the team in favour of Millar?

    - Anthony
  10. 10.

    Hey Mike,

    Sounded like a pretty weird game over all. Do you think we’ll receive news on Snider’s injury status today? With Snider being one of the very few reasons I am excited about this upcoming season it would be sad if he didn’t make it out opening day due to an injury. I guess injuries are apart of the game as we all (Jays fans) know all to well.


    MW: It wasn’t that weird a game, actually. Not atypical for spring. I’m sure we’ll have news on Snider this afternoon.

    - mike-
  11. 11.

    It seems to me this spring, that JP has positioned this team well with young pitching prospects… ready or almost ready to make the jump. They may not all pan out, and it may not be this year… but a few look like they will succeed in the bigs and the team seems as prepared as they can be for the day when they can’t afford Halliday any longer.

    Q1: Should JP get a little more credit from some media, fans and the organization for what he’s built? Despite no post season he also hasn’t traded the farm for one desperate shot?

    Q2: If some of the young guys have success, might JP look to trade Roy Halliday this year or next to fill other holes either on the big league roster, farm or both?

    Q3: Am I nuts to think that Roy will command/deserve 20+mil in his next deal and that given the economy and young arms this will be a bit rich for T.O? I’d love for him to finish his career here… but…

    Have a great year in the booth and in your beer league (I hope that’s not offensive). Hopefully the Jays give you lots of positive stuff to discuss this year. Maybe I’ll call in and chat.

    MW: 1. Yes, but not necessarily because he hasn’t made the big splash go-for-it trade. He should get credit because he’s built the best pitching-and-defense team in the big leagues. 2. Nope. 3. You’re not nuts, but Rogers has the money.

    - Nathaniel
  12. 12.

    Is there a better place in all of baseball for Shawn Hill to resume/resurrect his career than here in his own backyard, his stomping grounds, as it were, in Toronto? I can’t believe the Nats have thrown in the towel on this guy already. Either, the impatience of being a lousy team year in and year out has taken too much of a toll on the ownership and management there, or his arm is jello and they just can’t afford to keep dragging him along. Still, for less than 800 Gs a year…. shouldn’t the Jays at least take a look at what Hill has left?

    My apologies for neglecting the issue of Mills’ control, which is a disappointment coming off all the hype his teammates so generously afforded him to this point in the spring.


    MW: It would be great if the Jays would take a cheap flier on Shawn Hill.

    - Paul
  13. 13.

    Hi Mike, a lot of people seem to be getting excited about Lane this spring. I wouldn’t. From 2006 to 2007 the guy hit under .200 avg. I really hope the Jays decide to go with Mills over Clement or Richmond as i think they need to prepare the kids for 2010. Question regarding Janssen, do you know how hard he is throwing? Is he getting his fastball up over 90 as he was prior to his injury? Getting really excited for the season to begin. I really want to see some of the kids contribute this year

    MW: I’ll make sure to check the gun on Janssen tonight.

    - Ken
  14. 14.

    Hi Mike. I have been a Jays fan right from the beginning. I have had a difficult time dealing with the way that the Jays did absolutely nothing this offseason to improve the team. It feels like J.P. just took the winter off. I am very concerned about the following:

    1. The rotation only has 2 proven pitchers

    2. the offense was bad last year and has not been upgraded

    3. the Yankees, Bosox and Rays have all improved

    I’m sure that budget constraints affected what J.P. may have wanted to do, but Boston picked up some good players for cheap. I feel like we just didn’t even try. With so many unsigned free agents out there (Paul Byrd, Moises Alou), we could have picked up anyone we wanted but instead we did nothing at all.

    I figure that the Jays are not likely to win 75 games this year for no other reason than that they will have to play so many games against the Rays, Sox and Yanks.

    As a fan, I am not looking forward to the pain of following a team that is going to lose so many games (I follow the Leafs and Raps but don’t get emotionally involved). Do you feel more positive about the team or should I just take the year off and follow some other sport?

    Do I have anything to look forward to this year?

    Jeff Rechtshaffen

    MW: Nope.

    - Jeff Rechtshaffen
  15. 15.

    Do the players twitter in the dugout/bullpen?

    MW: If they do, they should be sent home.

    - Joe N.
  16. 16.

    Based on what I have seen so far with Matt Clement I think he should be the one to break camp with the Jays and Richmond should start the year in triple A, Clement has the big league experience and won’t buckle under the pressure as easily as Richmond would. In the end who do you think will make the trip up north Clement or Richmond?

    MW: What have you seen so far of Clement?

    - Royce
  17. 17.


    How has Janssen’s velocity/movement been this spring? If memory serves he was topping out around 91-92 in 07 and had a nice cutter and slider. How about Accardo? Any sign of his old 97mph 4-seamer and the sharp split-fingered FB?

    Here is my opening day line-up prediction:

    SP1: Halladay
    SP2: Litsch
    SP3: Purcey
    SP4: Janssen
    SP5: Richmond
    LRP: Tallet
    LRP: Accardo
    MRP: Frasor
    MRP: Camp
    MRP: Carlson
    MRP/SU: League
    MRP/SU: Downs
    CP: Ryan

    C: Barajas
    1B: Overbay
    2B: Hill
    3B: Rolen
    SS: Scutaro
    LF: Lind
    CF: Wells
    RF: Rios
    DH: Snider
    Bench: Inglett
    Bench: MacDonald
    Bench: Chavez

    MW: I can tell you right now that the Jays won’t be carrying 13 pitchers.

    - Darren
  18. 18.

    It is too bad that there is no room on the team for Jason Lane.He has had some success in the majors and the Jays could use his power but where would you play him?The only spot would be as a 4th outfielder but that would mean somebody we might need more like Millar or Bautista would be cut.It’s tough.

    MW: It’s tough, indeed. Lane is a fine bat against lefties, but so is Bautista.

    - Paul
  19. 19.

    Shawn Hill is now available, do you think the Jays will or should take a flyer on him ?

    MW: See above.

    - Dilson
  20. 20.

    Hi Mike.

    Attendance for the Team USA games played in Florida at the World Baseball Classic looked pretty low. By comparison, the people of the Greater Toronto Area look like WBC fanatics. Maybe if the games were in New York or Chicago, there would be more interest. However, outdoor baseball in those cities in March would be a real challenge.

    Perhaps the semis and finals will draw more people, but this tournament doesn’t appear to be capturing the imagination of the host cities. Except for a core of die-hards, it doesn’t look like all that many people care.

    Personally, I don’t like the format very much. Team Venezuela has beaten Team USA twice, yet Team USA gets to join Team Venezuela in the final round, with the Venezuelans only getting a “seeding” advantage for their trouble. Big deal.

    I think single game elimination (like the NCAA basketball tournament) would be best, as it would make for a more compact tournament with every game being do-or-die. If that’s too much excitement for baseball types to handle, then perhaps a best two-out-of-three series with the winner advancing and the loser out of the tournament. Either way would be better than this cumbersome ordeal.

    MW: It seems impossible to pick a perfect format for the WBC. Single elimination proves nothing in baseball, though it’d be pretty exciting.

    - jim
  21. 21.

    If Jason Lane does indeed make the team with the numbers he has in the spring, do you think the Jays could use him as a DH if they wanted his bat in there?

    MW: One good month doesn’t erase three years in mediocrity. Lane won’t make the team if everyone is healthy.

    - Dan
  22. 22.


    What are your thoughts on AL ROY? I hear a lot of people say they like Wieter’s even if he only plays 5 months but I think our boy Snider might have something to say about it… What do you think?

    MW: How do you put an apostrophe in a guy’s name? I find it a pointless exercise to pick rookie of the year, Cy Young, MVP and that sort of thing hopefuls at the beginning of the season. It’s such an inexact science as to be almost laughable. Who had Cliff Lee last year?

    - Andrew (Guelph)
  23. 23.

    SI robbed you! They did an article this week about Adam Dunn and said the infamous quote was from JP’s own show, not yours.

    Q: Do you think the makeshift bottom 3 of the Jays rotation along with Doc and Litsch are good enough to keep the Jays afloat in contention if the offence performs decently? Do you think we should expect improvement offensively?

    MW: I think you should expect an offensive improvement, for sure. Remember, there won’t be over 1,000 plate appearances going to the likes of Brad Wilkerson, Kevin Mench, Shannon Stewart, Matt Stairs and Frank Thomas (2008 Jays version) this year. I don’t think that the bottom three spots in the rotation will be makeshift, either. Not nearly as good as they would have been had Marcum and McGowan stayed healthy, granted, but it’s not as though they’re just picking up pieces of garbage to throw in there, or turning relievers into starters and praying. As for the SI thing, I’m used to it. All the American references to the Dunn thing at the time said “Ricciardi’s radio show.”

    - Eli
  24. 24.

    Hey Mike..can’t wait for the season to start….I can’t stop watching the WBC….makes me appreciate where the level of international talent will be in the next 20 years…Go Korea!!!….On to the Jays….think that along with other emailers the tide is turning for JP…I think if people really look closely at the job he has done on the farm lately that he is going to earn some respect…the Jays have several players that are interesting and could have some potential…I have been critical of JP, but man I think he is about to deliver on some of his words…thanks

    - craig
  25. 25.

    Hey Mike. That Brighthouse Networks Field(if they still call it that) is one of the nicest little ballparks I’ve ever been to! I was wondering what your favorate spring training ballpark is?

    MW: It is a really nice little ballpark, it’s true. Steinbrenner is probably the nicest, but it’s not “spring training” enough, if you know what I mean. And the Braves’ park at Disney is gorgeous, but it’s Disney. The refurbishment in Port Charlotte really prettied up that place, too, but I’m going to have to give the nod to Clearwater.

    - Matt in BC
  26. 26.

    Come on Mike! Every blogger has a twitter!

    MW: Not me.

    - Dave
  27. 27.

    Hey Mike I guess you didn’t feel like my comments were worthy of being posted, because it not only challenged you with truth regarding the excuses of the division and payroll but it also challenged our eigth year GM. I guess the truth really hurts some people.

    MW: Nope, it’s not that. I’m just not going to deal with you this year.

    - Neil
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