11:45 PM Eastern

Sorry for the lateness of this post, but the THROW Rookie Draft went down tonight (I came out of it with John Jaso, Brent Morel, Tyson Ross and Tommy Manzella – don’t judge!), so that had to be tended to.

It was our final broadcast of the spring (Sportsnet TV still has one more, on Wednesday afternoon), and with the radio spotlight on him, the Blue Jays’ new leadoff man took it upon himself to make a rather loud introduction to the populace.  Rajai Davis led the Jays 20-hit attack with five of his own; two singles, two doubles and a triple.  He missed the cycle by just one total base, depending on how you look at things.

Davis put the cherry on top with his first stolen base of the spring – you can expect at least 40 of those during the regular season, and I’m thinking he has a very good chance of breaking the all-time single-season Blue Jays record of 60, set by Dave Collins back in 1984.  He stole third on the first pitch after his first-inning line shot to deep left that Robert Andino butchered into a double.

Davis is going to be a really exciting player for Jays watchers to get to see everyday.  He has tremendous speed and puts it to great use both on the bases and in the outfield.  As well, Davis believes that he is now a far different, and much better hitter than he has been to this point (he’s a lifetime .281/.330/.383 in parts of five big-league seasons).  Dwayne Murphy has helped him simplify; he now goes to the plate looking fastball and adjusts from there, instead of looking for everything.

Yunel Escobar had a big day at the plate as well – he drove in five runs with a double, a homer and a groundout.  Very quietly, Escobar has had a sensational spring.  He’s hitting .414/.469/.552 with the second-most at-bats on the team behind Edwin Encarnacion.  Escobar was a very, very good offensive player from 2007 to 2009, and I don’t think we saw what he’s really capable of doing last year.

Also, Aaron Hill was the best I’ve seen him so far this spring.  He made a sprawling play to his left to haul in a Tyler Henson grounder and start an inning-ending double play in the 5th, and went 3-for-3 at the plate.  Included in those three hits were a liner to left field that got cut off before it got to the corner; Hill had to explode out of the box AND find another gear coming around first, sliding into second for a double.  He also beat out an infield single in the 5th.  We’ll see how he feels in the morning, but for now, my concerns about his quad are gone.

Neither Corey Patterson nor John McDonald played in the game, but both are expected to do so tomorrow.  Patterson got his heart rate up on the exercise bike to see if there were any post-concussion symptoms.  I saw him afterwards and asked him if he puked.  He said no, so that’s a very good sign.  McDonald hasn’t played since March 18th because of a sore arm, but told me he’d be in there tomorrow.

Before the game, another round of cuts were made, and only 27 healthy players remain in camp.  It’s pretty apparent that Jonathan Diaz and Ryan Budde aren’t going to make the team, so we know what the final roster is, barring any injuries or trades the rest of the way:

Pitchers (12):  Shawn Camp, Brett Cecil, Kyle Drabek, Jason Frasor, Casey Janssen, Jesse Litsch, David Purcey, Jon Rauch, Jo-Jo Reyes, Ricky Romero, Marc Rzepczynski, Carlos Villanueva

Catchers (2): J.P. Arencibia, Jose Molina

Infielders (7): Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Yunel Escobar, Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Mike McCoy, John McDonald

Outfielders (4): Rajai Davis, Corey Patterson, Juan Rivera, Travis Snider

Starting the season on the disabled list will be: Jesse Carlson, Octavio Dotel, Frank Francisco, Dustin McGowan and Brandon Morrow

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2011 Toronto Blue Jays!

Here are the collected works of audio from today.  First, Ricky Romero, after allowing five runs on eight hits (no walks!) in 5 1/3 innings:

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And, Mr. Five Hits himself, Rajai Davis:

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Tomorrow, the Blue Jays stay home in Dunedin and meet the Boston Red Sox for the second time in four days.  Kyle Drabek will make his final start of the spring, in preparation for Saturday afternoon’s regular-season affair against the Twinkies.  He’ll face John Lackey. It’ll be my last game of what’s been a pretty sensational spring so far.  There’s no radio coverage, nor is there any TV, so follow me on Twitter @Wilnerness590 for all the updates!

Rational, reasonable comments are always welcome, and will be answered!

8 Responses to “Rajai’s Day”
  1. 1.

    Mike,
    With the likes of Morrow, Dotel & Francisco coming off the DL in the next week or two…who goes where? I know its probably a good problem to have, but I think I heard somewhere that Jo-Jo Reyes is out of options, and he seemed to have great stuff this spring. Could Drabek head down?

    MW: There are all of kinds of things that could happen between now and when those guys are ready to come off. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

    - Ricardo
  2. 2.

    Mike,
    When you talk about the best offensive lineups in the game (Boston, New York, Texas ect.) does Toronto have the ability to be in that conversation?

    MW: Yes

    - Denny
  3. 3.

    Sounds like that would have been a fun game to cover Mike.

    “He missed the cycle by just one total base, depending on how you look at things.”

    So if someone hits 5 doubles, he really hit for the cycle or 3 homers, he hit 2 bags over the cycle lol?

    No, let’s not cheapen the feat, it needs a homer, triple, double and a single.

    Total bags don’t count :0)

    MW: I didn’t mean to cheapen the feat -I was just kidding. But do you believe that two doubles, a triple and a home run is less of a feat than the traditional cycle.

    - Gary
  4. 4.

    Hi Mike,

    I have been following the Jays with interest this spring and am looking forward to seeing what the jays bring this year.

    I have been surprised by the success of Davis this spring. I know spring numbers mean next to nothing but it is encouraging that he is off to such a good start. We keep hearing so many good things about Murphy as hitting coach. I know coaching can have an impact on a player/team but Murphy really seems to be pointed out more than others. Is his hitting philosophy that much different than others around baseball? What makes him better than others?

    MW: More than likely it’s the way he gets his message across. The players have a tremendous amount of respect for Murphy, which makes them far more inclined to listen to what he tells them.

    - Andrew
  5. 5.

    Going into spring training, I expected to see some positive improvements from the Jays. I didn’t expect for every game to provide so many glaring indications of how good this team really is.

    What 2 things have been the most positive surprises for you this spring?

    What 2 things leave you more concerned than you were 1 month ago?

    MW: The most positive surprises have been the play of Brett Lawrie and Eric Thames. I don’t think there’s anything that has happened to up my concern level, honestly.

    - @2011mnbatigers
  6. 6.

    michael,
    dave collins. good ball player back in the day. no doubt. certainly all in all a very steady, dependable lead off guy.
    and i remember one of the funnier quotes ever, coming from him in either his 2nd last or last season as a blue jay.
    he was having an extremely tough go of it that season and the batting average was way way down for a good stretch especially early in the season tha tyr..
    and davey c. quipped at one point that he really enjoyed playing the early afternoon games cause’ he figured that when the crowd looked up at the scoreboard and saw his batting average they just figured it was the “time.” hilarious michael……
    he was a funny guy.

    - darrell bishop
  7. 7.

    Mike,

    As far as the offence is concerned:

    This year’s Jays infield has a chance to be one of the most productive in MLB, if things break right. Catching is, of course, a question mark because there’s no track record for the starter (I agree with many others who wish that Napoli had been kept, however that’s another story). EE should at least provide some power as a DH.

    It’s the outfield that could become an issue. The key variable is whether Snider can blossom into a full-fledged power hitter. If he does, his numbers will take up the slack for the other picketmen, who – while good ballpayers – will probably fall short offensively in comparison to outfielders on contending teams.

    Anyway, it’s an intriquing line-up to be sure – should be a fun season!

    - Ken
  8. 8.

    In the AL east how would you rank the 5 team’s:

    1. Pitching staff? TOR, BOS, NYY, TB, BAL (assuming you mean rotation and bullpen)

    2. Offence? BOS, NYY, TOR, TB, BAL

    3. Defence? BOS, TOR, TB, NYY, BAL

    - ScoobyBP
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