4:00 PM Eastern

The Blue Jays took the field at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium (hereafter to be known as The FAES) to take on…..themselves, in the first of two intra-squad games before the real fake season starts on Saturday afternoon with Brett Cecil on the mound against the Tigers (we’re on the air at 12:30 PM Eastern!  Woo-hoo!).

It was a 5 1/2 inning game dominated by pitching, with only five hits overall.  Both Ricky Romero and Zach Stewart pitched two perfect innings, with Romero disappointed by the fact it took him 28 pitches and Stewart garnering rave reviews for his efficiency, control, strong sinker and the way his ball moves.

Kyle Drabek, who took the mound during infield practice with a bubblegum bubble stuck to his cap, needed only nine pitches to get through his 1-2-3 inning that included a strikeout of J.P. Arencibia on back-to-back 94 mile-an-hour fastballs.

Speaking of infield practice, which was back at the Bobby Mattick complex this morning, it was a real treat to see Arencibia, Jose Bautista, Yunel Escobar and Edwin Encarnacion on the field taking ground balls from Luis Rivera.  The pace was quick, the smiles were huge, and they were all screaming in Spanish and laughing pretty much the whole time.  I’m not sure if Adam Lind, Aaron Hill and John McDonald felt left out, but it really was something to see.

Back to the game – Jose Molina scored the game’s first run, teaching a couple of young players some valuable lessons in the process.  Molina hit a slow roller to short on which Adeiny Hechevarria came charging in, making a nice play on his backhand on the run.  Without realizing who was running, though, Hechevarria made a quick, rushed throw from a terrible angle and it wound up about 10 feet over the head of first baseman David Cooper.  The young Cuban had all kinds of time to stop, get set and make a good throw, but only because it was Molina running – a fact of which Hechevarria was, apparently, not aware.

The other lesson was taught to Anthony Gose, who caught a shallow fly to centre off the bat of Yunel Escobar after Rajai Davis had singled.  When Gose caught the ball, Molina tagged up, and did a little two- or three-step decoy, the harmless type that almost never leads to anything – but when Gose didn’t throw, Molina kept going, and wound up safe at third as Gose’s eventual throw was off the bag and had to be short-hopped by Brett Lawrie.  Molina then scored on a groundout by Bautista.

Speaking of Lawrie, he made the defensive play of the game, charging hard in and towards the line, scooping up the ball and throwing a bullet in one motion to nail the very speedy Rajai Davis at first.

Adam Lind passed all the tests at first base, even recovering very nicely from bobbling a grounder off the bat of Eric Thames.  Lind kept the ball in front of him, didn’t panic or hurry, and fed Joel Carreno for the out.

Corey Patterson took Alan Farina deep in the 5th for the game’s only homer, and Mystery Minor Leaguer Matt Nuzzo followed with a double off the right-field wall – he later scored as Davis reached on a Lawrie fielding error for the 3-0 final, favour of the Black Team.

After the game, I went into the clubhouse and got comments from John Farrell, Ricky Romero, Zach Stewart, Corey Patterson and A.J. Jimenez, who threw out Davis trying to steal in the 5th.  Here it is, compiled for your listening pleasure:

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Having jumped into the Twitterverse, I was happy to twoot the play-by-play of the game, and will do so again tomorrow as we do Black versus Gray once again.  But only intra-squad games.

Part of the whole Twitter thing seems also to be re-tweeting and answering questions from you, my fine followers @InTheWilnerness. Generally I’m going to try to take advantage of the 3 1/2 mile walking path where I’m staying, and over the course of those walks most (every?) evening, I’ll be on Twitter and we can interact that way!

Comments are welcome, as always, and this season I’m going to try to get back into the habit of answering them!

12 Responses to “The Fake Game Before The Fake Game”
  1. 1.

    Mike…When you’ve stated in the past that it’s not unexpected for Cecil, Romero and Morrow to possibly take a step backwards in 2011, what are you basing your prediction on?…I know you’re not big on jinxes, so sophomore jinxes wouldn’t be in the Wilner vocabulary would it?

    MW: Jinxes? No. But history shows that it’s not that easy for a young pitcher to take a development path that goes straight up without a few bumps in the road.

    - chris m.
  2. 2.

    Thanks for covering the fake games before the fake games, Mike. Yes, I AM that desperate for baseball that it brought a lot of joy to my workday.

    - LJ
  3. 3.

    Hey Mike;

    Just a note on the bautista signing, great move by anthopolous, With no risk as he moved the immovable contracts of rios and wells, and everyone insists baustista won’t repeat but if he hits 40-45 hrs with his stellar defence he’s a steal considereing pujou’s delousional contract demands.
    Wondering why we didn’t sign manny ramierez for a dh spot, he would be ideal, but take away at bats from snider? Can’t wait for the first game @ RC and the season to start-GO jays Go.

    MW: Bautista’s signing is hardly risk-free, but it’s great that you have that kind of faith in Alex. Manny wasn’t a fit in the DH spot because the Jays wanted someone there who could play first base in case Adam Lind can’t handle it or when he needs a breather.

    - robert.s
  4. 4.

    Hey Mike, didn’t know Arencibia spoke spanish

    MW: His family is from Cuba.

    - jw
  5. 5.

    Mike,

    Any predictions on how the AL East finishes up this year? Or is this against your baseball faith?

    Just looking at the depth charts and I’m thinking:

    1. Boston – 97 wins
    2. NY – 91 wins (no wildcard)
    3. Toronto – 82 wins
    4. Tampa – 80 wins
    5. Baltimore – 71 wins

    MW: Not unreasonable. I don’t do predictions, though.

    - E-Vad
  6. 6.

    Will be delighted if you can get back to responding to comments.

    MW: I’m going to do my best, we’ll see how it goes.

    - kate
  7. 7.

    Zach Stewart will most likely not make it on the 25-man roster coming out of Spring Training. Where do you see him playing to start 2011? He has nothing more to prove at New Hampshire, but Las Vegas may not be the best place for a young top pitching prospect to play. A related question would then be: how good is Vegas as an affiliate if young pitchers like Drabek and Stewart have to stay in AA?

    MW: That’s the thing, and that’s a very good question. It’s not fantastic for their development to have them pitch in Vegas, but it’s not all that terrible to see how they react to adverse conditions and poor results. I think Stewart will likely start in Vegas, though he might only be there for a month.

    - Leo
  8. 8.

    Hey Mike, I really liked your interview with Corey Patterson. I hadn’t heard the man speak before, but he came across as very impressive. Hope he sticks as the 4th OF.

    - Ian D
  9. 9.

    Can’t wait to hear you guys on the radio this saturday, let the springtimedness begin!

    - Game Time
  10. 10.

    michael,
    from my viewpoint, the really interesting story to follow in this camp is to watch how this mgr. & g.m. make the determination of who stays & who goes within this bullpen. no doubt.
    tough tough decisions to be made indeed.
    of course francisco, rauch, dotel, frasor & camp look to be frontrunners. but those 2 to 3 other spots? wow. tough calls to be made there in the end.
    purcey, janssen, carlson, villanueva, lewis, cordero, roenicke, henn, ledezma.
    and what if some of these others fighting for the 4th & 5th starting rotation spots pitch so well that the organization feels they need to find them a place in this pen?
    what have you got there?
    rzep, reyes, mills, richmoond as possible transitioners to the pen. man….
    (can’t see stewart being considered for that. he’s a sp all the way it seems just waiting his turn if it isn’t right now)
    but has to be as competitive a camp in this regard as any ever be it the bluejays or maybe anyone else for that matter.
    what? 12-13 legitimate mlb pitchers trying to nab 2 spots, maybe 3? lots & lots of quality mlb ready arms to decipher.
    one thing is for certain.
    a.a. is indeed going to have some ammunition at his disposal to make some trades for either current or future help for this organization going forward with this apparent arm surplus.
    and on that thought. could definitely see a few of these seemingly top 5 locks apart of the trade discussions if not in camp as it progresses, certainly as this season moves along.
    frasor comes to mind as likely in that regard. who knows, maybe even rock solid shawn camp?
    nice spot to be in though.

    - darrell bishop
  11. 11.

    Mike,

    The play by play tweets are great for us suffering back here in the bitter north. I know its early but who are a few of the young players that really stood out to you so far? Guys we haven’t had a chance to see play for the Jays yet.

    MW: It’s only been 11 innings, but I have really enjoyed watching Lawrie play third and have been very impressed by Gose’s range in centre and his throwing arm. Hechevarria is a very, very slick fielder, but I think he’s trying a bit too hard.

    - Denny
  12. 12.

    Glad you (and baseball!) are back, Mike.
    If Stewart outpitches Drabek and Litsch in spring training, does he get a starting spot? Or would other factors (service time, waivers, etc.) come into play?

    MW: All of Stewart, Drabek and Litsch have options, so that wouldn’t come into play, but I think the Jays have their plans set out and it might not matter how well he pitches, unless he’s absolutely untouchable for a month.

    - Jeff
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