4:00 PM Eastern
The youngsters had the upper hand in the second fake game before the real fake games get started tomorrow, with the Gray team dropping the Black team 4-2.
David Cooper, the Jays’ first-round pick in 2008, hit a two-out, two-run double off of Carlos Villanueva in the 5th inning to put Gray on top to stay, yanking a line drive into the right-centre field gap to score Mike McDade and Darin Mastroianni, who had extended the inning by drawing a two-out walk. Villanueva did wind up striking out the side over the 31-pitch frame, but not without the damage done. The other Gray runs came on an RBI fielder’s choice by Eric Thames that cashed an unearned run in the 4th (more on that below) and an RBI infield single by A.J. Jimenez off Rommie Lewis in the 6th.
Both Black runs came in the first inning off a struggling Brad Mills. The lefty used 12 pitches to retire the first two hitters, then gave up an opposite-field gap double to Adam Lind which was followed by back-to-back RBI singles by Jose Bautista and Juan Rivera. Then, in something that wouldn’t happen in a real fake game, the inning was stopped because Mills had thrown 29 pitches. He only needed eight to get through a 1-2-3 second, though.
Brandon Morrow looked awfully strong – and the kids he was facing were pretty overmatched. Though he struggled with control, throwing only 18 of 32 pitches for strikes, Morrow only walked one in his two hitless innings of work, and only allowed two balls to be put in play. He struck out four, and Mike McCoy and Brian Jeroloman each managed to hit a ground ball.
Octavio Dotel was sharp in a 1-2-3 third, popping up Adeiny Hechevarria and Darin Mastroianni and whiffing Cooper, Shawn Camp pitched the 4th and gave up the unearned run, but got weak ground balls from each of the first four hitters he faced before Travis D’Arnaud hit a liner to centre that was caught for the inning’s final out. Jason Frasor and Casey Janssen each looked good as well, both striking out a pair and getting a groundout, with Janssen also allowing a double to Bautista, though it was a high fly ball that the wind caught and yanked away from Mastroianni.
The Cuban shortstops each stood out on defence in this one, and not always for the right reasons. We saw the ugly and the brilliant in Yunel Escobar on back-to-back pitches in the fourth. After McCoy singled with a ground ball that hit the third-base bag, Brett Lawrie followed with a grounder up the middle. Escobar gloved it cleanly, then pulled a little razzle-dazzle action, flipping it behind his back to second to try to start a double play. Problem is, his backhand flip wound up nowhere near second base and John McDonald had to go pick it up in right field. Eric Thames followed with a first-pitch grounder in the hole between short and third, and Escobar ranged to his right, made a beautiful diving grab and fired to second for the out.
The razzle-dazzle is allowed in a fake fake game, I guess. We’ll see how well it goes over starting tomorrow.
As for Adeiny Hechevarria, he again showed a lack of awareness about his baserunner defensively. In the second inning, Edwin Encarnacion hit a grounder on which Hechevarria had to come in to pick it off the dirt. He did, very nicely, but then rushed a throw to first when he didn’t have to, and needed McDade to short-hop it for the out. Chances are, this being his first exposure to this sort of environment, that Hechevarria is trying his best to impress the heck out of everyone at every opportunity. He really doesn’t need to, and he’ll figure that out soon enough, I hope.
After the game, John Farrell gave updates on Aaron Hill (won’t play tomorrow, though he’s taking part in all drills, want him to be 100% symptom-free with the sore quad), Travis Snider (35 swings in the cage, felt good, still no running or throwing yet) and Frank Francisco (long-toss today after bullpen session yesterday, will throw a bullpen every third day instead of every second and be ready to get into a game during the second week of games). Also, Jon Rauch threw another bullpen today and felt good, and Scott Podsednik took some cuts in the cage, though he’s still walking gingerly and isn’t yet able to run. He didn’t think he’d be in jeopardy of not being able to start the season, though.
Farrell talked about his line-up as well, and says he hasn’t decided how to stack Lind and Bautista. It seems they’ll hit third and fourth, we just don’t know in what order. Lind no longer has a problem with batting in the clean-up spot – Farrell says it’s a sign of his maturation as a player and a hitter that he isn’t “playing into those intangibles or making too much of it.” He’ll likely flip-flop Lind and Bautista between third and fourth most of the spring until he figures out which combination he prefers. The key is both to give Bautista appropriate protection and to not stack up the righties too much. So far, Juan Rivera has been hitting in the 5th spot, but neither Hill nor Snider have played yet, and both of them are candidates to hit there, too.
All the audio I collected after the game – Farrell, Cooper and Lind – is here for your listening pleasure:
Tomorrow, it’s our first broadcast of the spring, with the Jays hosting the Detroit Tigers here at the FAES in the first of a home-and-home. Brett Cecil will start, and is scheduled to be followed (in order) by Robert Ray, Jesse Carlson, David Purcey, Luis Perez, Wilfredo Ledezma and Mike Hinckley. The pre-game show begins at 12:30 PM Eastern along the Blue Jays Radio Network, so be sure to join us. There will be live chatting right here at www.fan590.com and if you’re not already following me on Twitter, you can find me @InTheWilnerness.
I know yesterday I said I’d show up on twitter in the evening to answer some questions and I didn’t – turns out I had some issues with getting settled in here in Florida. Those are done with now so I should be on at some point tonight while I take my nightly constitutional, and if you see me, I’d be happy to engage in a little back-and-forth.
Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome, and now more likely to be answered.