6:18 PM Eastern
After doubling their spring loss total with a pair of split-squad defeats on Saturday, the Blue Jays went back to work and swung the big bats against Cole Hamels and the Phillies Sunday, hitting double digits on the scoreboard for just the second time this spring.
And this without Brett Lawrie, J.P. Arencibia, Kelly Johnson, Colby Rasmus, Travis Snider or Eric Thames in the starting line-up.
The big bats belonged to Yunel Escobar, who had a pair of RBI doubles to make up for a lacklustre day in the field, Jose Bautista, who hit his third homer of the spring, an absolute bomb to left-centre, and Yan Gomes, the minor-league catcher who went three-for-three with a single, two doubles and three runs batted in. He also earned high praise from Brett Cecil for his work behind the plate.
Gomes is the catching prospect nobody really talks about, what with J.P. Arencibia and Travis d’Arnaud ahead of him and A.J. Jimenez and Carlos Perez coming up behind him. Drafted in the 10th round by the Blue Jays in 2009, Gomes was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil and moved to Miami when he was 12 years old. There has never been a Brazilian-born player in the major leagues.
The 24 year-old is making one heck of an impression this spring, though. Today’s three hits brought his Grapefruit League numbers up to .500/.500/.929 in just 14 at-bats. He has three doubles and a home run, that off Pirates’ prospect Jeff Locke. Gomes split time between AA and AAA last season, sharing time behind the plate with d’Arnaud while also playing some first, third and DH in order to keep his bat in the line-up, and is a career .271/.330/.455 hitter as a pro. He’s likely to be in Vegas this year, backing up d’Arnaud and getting the occasional start elsewhere on the diamond, but make no mistake, he can definitely do the job behind the plate. He throws well, does a good job blocking balls in the dirt, and as I mentioned above, Cecil was very impressed with how Gomes thinks the game.
I had a chance to speak to Gomes after he came out of the game:
As for Cecil, he was scored on for the first time this spring, giving up a run in the first inning as Shane Victorino tripled into the gap in right-centre and was cashed by Hunter Pence, whose hard grounder went right through Yunel Escobar, who was playing in. It was one of three plays that Escobar probably should have made on the afternoon but didn’t, though he made up for it with the bat.
Despite not humping it up over 87 on the FAES radar gun, Cecil kept the Phillies off-balance with his secondary stuff and was a strike-throwing machine. He didn’t walk a batter and stayed out of trouble over his four-inning stint while Cole Hamels, who brings very similar stuff to the table, didn’t have his good control and got raked by the Blue Jays, allowing five runs on eight hits over 3 1/3 innings.
Here’s what Cecil had to say to the assemblage after his outing:
Alan Ashby made an excellent point in the game in that as far as stuff goes, Cecil and Hamels – the World Series MVP in 2008 and a man who is going to become obscenely wealthy sometime in the next year – are the exact same guy. Nothing to choose from between the two of them, but Hamels has been more successful because he’s been able to command his stuff better. It’s not about the radar gun, it’s about hitting your spots and not making mistakes up in the strike zone. So far this spring, the results have been there for Cecil. In 10 innings, he’s allowed one run on six hits, walking three and striking out six.
One more post-game interview for you – I spoke to Rajai Davis, who went 2-for-3, stole a base and scored twice:
The Blue Jays have an off-day Monday – everyone except for Henderson Alvarez, who will throw five innings in a minor-league game. I’ll be working, though, joining Jeff Blair from 11:00AM to Noon Eastern on Sportsnet590 The Fan. We’ll talk Blue Jays, take your calls and such.
On Tuesday, the Jays have a date with the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers. I won’t be making the trip, though, and that’s because Dustin McGowan won’t be making the trip. McGowan is staying behind to throw four innings in a minor-league game. Aaron Laffey will take the three-hour bus ride south to face the Sox. Here’s the rest of the travel squad for Tuesday’s game – one of only two night games the Jays will play this spring: Drew Carpenter, Jesse Chavez, Robert Coello, Yan Gomes, Jeff Mathis, David Cooper, Jonathan Diaz, Edwin Encarnacion, Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson, Mike McCoy, Luis Valbuena, Jose Bautista, Anthony Gose, Colby Rasmus, Travis Snider, Eric Thames, Brian Bocock, Brian Jeroloman, Jack Murphy, Danny Perales.
Wednesday afternoon, the Jays are in Sarasota to meet the Orioles. Kyle Drabek will start that game, scheduled to go four innings, as Ricky Romero hangs back to throw five in a minor-league game. Brett Lawrie, who has been out of action since suffering a mild left groin strain on Friday, is currently listed on the Jays’ travel squad for the game against Baltimore.
We got the chance to have a good old-fashioned edition of The JaysTalk after Sunday’s game, and here it is, for your listening pleasure:
Before I go, Sunday morning the Blue Jays had their annual meeting with the grand poobahs of the MLB Players’ Association, and just like Don Fehr before him, Executive Director Michael Weiner held court with the media following the meeting. Here’s what Weiner had to say about the Ryan Braun case, the excessive testing of Jose Bautista, labour peace, and hockey (oh, well), among other things:
Please give me a follow on The Twitter, you can find me @wilnerness590. Jeff Blair, on whose show I’ll be spending an hour Monday morning, can be found @GloBlair.
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