Can I Get A Quote, Please?

March 1 to 7, 2010

Programming note: this takes up way to much of my time to compile.  Hope you enjoyed it because I am going to have to start getting selective from here on…..

Boy Wonder:

“He has to play his way onto this team,” general manager Alex
Anthopoulos said about Snider. “He’s a young player and he knows that. I
told him in the offseason he’s going to be a big part of this organization.
That being said, he knows he’s got to go out and perform in spring training.

“But if he doesn’t make it as an everyday player, he’ll go down. He
flew through the minor leagues and has not had a lot of minor league at-bats,
and that’s a credit to his ability. So if he’s going to be up here it’s going
to be to play every single day,” Anthopoulos said.

“We’ve talked to him about it. That date is non-existent for us with him,”
general manager Alex Anthopoulos said about McGowan. “If it happens to fall on
that date, great. If it happens a week later, that’s fine as well, even three
months after that.

“This is a young guy who certainly has a great chance to be part of this
organization for a long time and we want to make sure we get it right and not
take any chances.”

“He asked(McGowan about facing live hitters)” said GM Alex Anthopoulos.
“He’s feeling really good, he wanted to do it and the trainers signed off on
it.”

“We’ve told him that as far as we’re concerned, opening day is just another
day on the calendar,” Anthopoulos said. “If he’s not ready until three weeks
later, it doesn’t matter. He’s not some 38-year-old guy on a one-year contract.
We want him to be a part of this for a long time and he understands that.”

“If Kevin Gregg wins that job in spring training,”
said new GM Alex Anthopoulos, “and he ends up getting the eighth-inning
role or the seventh-inning role, that isn’t a bid thing either.”

 

“We’re not going to go into the draft shying away from
certain players because they’re too expensive,” Anthopoulos told MLB.com.
“If we feel the value is there, and we put the right value on those
players, we’ll have the money to go sign the players.”

 

“We acquired
him as a starter,” Alex Anthopoulos, the Blue Jays’ rookie general
manager, added. “He seems very comfortable.”

“His control and command has
been the thing that’s held him back the most,” Anthopoulos said. “But
when you throw that hard, command usually comes later.

“He’s only 25. We think that
will come. I’ve compared him to a young A.J. Burnett. His walks rates have
gotten better from his Florida Marlins days. You can’t teach stuff. You can’t
teach a sharp-
biting curve.”

“I can’t speak for the other places he’s been, but I know we’re
certainly going to give him an honest shot to win the full-time DH role, or to
be a guy off the bench,” Anthopoulos said about Ruiz.

“His bat is definitely his calling card,” Anthopoulos said about
Ruiz.

“2010 will really tell us the tale,” general
manager Alex Anthopoulos said about Loewen.

“We’re not going to rush any of these kids,” the GM said. “There’s not going
to be that temptation, ‘Oh, we just traded Roy Halladay, we got these three
kids, lets get them up here right now, let’s show the fans what we’ve got.’

“This is about getting these guys ready and, hopefully, ready to stay and be
part of this for a long time.”

 “I’ve told Kyle, even before he
throws an inning, the plan for him right now is to go down to New Hampshire,
but it’s not set in stone,” Anthopoulos said. “And we certainly reserve the
right to change our minds, but we do feel that there’s some development left
for him. And just because he starts there [Double-A], if that ends up being the
case, it doesn’t mean that we’re not capable of calling him up.”

“A big part of this game is the mental side and I think players will go
through a wall for him,” Anthopoulos said. “And I think he knows how to build
them up and get them to have confidence in themselves, believing in
themselves.”

“We want to have an identity as a team that plays good, hard-nosed,
fundamental ball,” Anthopoulos said over the phone while scouting a high
school game in Florida.

John Buck:

“It helps them be more comfortable,” Buck said. “I didn’t want
to come in and say, ‘This is what you’re going to do.’ They’re good for a
reason. They’re here for a reason. We can use that and go from that point,
rather than me coming in and not knowing them. I think that helps them just
stay with who they are.”

“It’s a fresh start,” Buck said. “We’ve obviously got a young
staff, like the way Kansas City
was when we were really young. But the guys that are young that are here, I
think they’re ready to be at this level.”

“It will probably be a couple
years down the road, but I could see it being very exciting,” Buck said. “Maybe
an Atlanta
Braves-type of thing. They really have the arms here.”

“Doc may not be here but I can
feel just what he’s left here, the work ethic,” Buck said. “Coming in at 6:30
in the morning, and I thought I was going to impress some people here, and some
of the pitchers were walking out. They were done with their workouts, and that
was pretty encouraging.”

“The task at hand is nothing
compared to what we were in Kansas
City,” he said. “The guys are ready right now. They
may be young, they may be lacking experience, but they’re ready. They have an
idea, they know what works for them, they know what doesn’t.”

“He’s pretty impressive, too,” the veteran catcher said, referring to Kyle
Drabek.

“He’s cheating a little bit with his dad,” Buck said. “He was probably
talking to him, telling him what sequence to throw out of the womb.”

Dustin McGowan:

“I said I’d rather face batters,” McGowan said. “So we went
with it.”

 “Actually, to tell you the truth, I
was a little nervous all last night,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect.
But we didn’t call any inside pitches. I was just trying to get a feel for
pitching again and just finding the plate.

“The important thing is that I got to do it and everything felt good. I
enjoyed it, having fun again.”

“They didn’t swing too much. That’s not their job right now.”

“It’s early. Later on they’ll be on a lot of those pitches,” he said.

Travis Snider:

“He was throwing some nasty
stuff,” said Snider about McGowan.

“I’m just excited. I’m saying,
‘Hey, 22 years old and you’ve got a shot to make the big-league team out of
spring training.’ I’m here to win a job. Coming off last year’s performance,
how can anyone guarantee me a job?”

“Hey, at this point, just
making contact is a good thing, right?”

Adam Lind:

“I had a great time hitting
with him,” Lind said, referring to Hill.

“We were both confident, had
personal competitions going on,” Lind said. “We were neck and neck in
everything the whole year.”

“I don’t really think about
(increased attention) until people bring it up to me. It’s not like I think
about it when I go home,” said Lind, who won a Silver Slugger for his
performance in 2009. “I haven’t been back to Toronto but maybe (more people will recognize
me). We’ll see.”

“I was in the background,” he
says. “You couldn’t really see me.”

Brain Butterfield:

“I don’t think either one (Hill, Lind) thinks that much about
it,” Blue Jays third base coach Brian Butterfield said. “I think that they’re
both confident enough where they try to block out all the exterior stuff that
may not allow you to play as well as you could. I think they’ve both arrived as
players.”

“I’ve always respected him as a shortstop who catches the ball as well or
better than anyone in the game,” Butterfield said. “Everywhere he has been
people have raved about his ability to catch the ball and save runs…He’s in
good physical shape and I’d like to think that he could play, and play a lot of
games.”

Aaron Hill:

 

“The pitchers are going to come
at us with a game plan until we change and show them that we can handle it, and
then they’ll change again,” Hill said. “That’s baseball.”

“It hasn’t even started yet,”
Hill said, his game face already very much in place. “You can’t say how good or
bad we might be. People are still putting together their lineups.”

“On-base percentage,
baby,”

The Cito:

“So far, so good,” Gaston said about McGowan. “I’m impressed
in what I see.”

“You’ve got to realize this kid’s been out what, almost
two years,” Gaston said.

“Big time, Gaston said. “He was one of the guys I really wanted to go over
and watch. … So far, man, good. It would be really great if he could break
(camp) with us. If he can’t, say a week or two later, whatever, we want him not
to rush himself, but we want him to know how bad we want him.

“He’s a kid I’ve been pulling for, hard,” Gaston added. “You’d love to see
this kid have a career and not end it by having a bad arm. He’s someone I think
of often as far as hoping he’ll get back, not so much for this team or myself
as for himself and his family.”

“I think because he’s so young and we want to see him develop and play a
long time here, he’d be better off to go out and play (triple A) if he didn’t
make the club. He’s a part of the future,” said Gaston about Snider.

“I think he’s matured in the sense that he’s listening, working hard, he’s
learned by his mistakes. I’d love to see him make this team, go out and hit
20-25 home runs. Then we’d really have something going.

“But for him to just come here and sit and play every once in a while off
the bench, or even platoon, I don’t think that’s what we want.”

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston noted that Frasor, lefty Scott Downs and
newly-signed Kevin Gregg are the only relievers who are assured jobs in the
Opening Day bullpen. “The rest of it’s open,” said Gaston.

“We’re not going to move him to
the bullpen,” Toronto
manager Cito Gaston said about Morrow. “We want to make him a
starter.”

“This kid gained a lot of confidence last year and he was
successful,” Gaston said about Frasor. “You’d give him the ball and
he did a great job for us. He really just got over the hump last year.”

“Carlson is one of the guys I really like,” Gaston said. “We
pitched him a lot and he was having problems, not with his pitching arm, but
with his other shoulder. You do have to lead with that shoulder.

“He’s still got to go out and do something because he didn’t have a great
year last year.”

“All he’s got to do is go out there and take it to them,” Gaston
said about Josh Roenicke.

 “Gonzalez has never played on
turf before and he’s one of the guys I want to give a day off here and there if
I can,” Gaston said.

“I think it’s going to be better for Mac. I’m going to try to make it
better for him.”

“I’d like to find him some more playing time.”

“That’s one reason we got Buck,” Jays manager Cito Gaston said.
“We heard he’s great with young pitchers.”

“He’s really nasty, isn’t
he?” Gaston said Jenkins. “He’s going to move real fast (through the
minor-league system) if he stays healthy.”

“Carlson, to be honest
with you, he’s got to show something, too,” Gaston said. “Carlson
struggled a little bit last year, but there was a lot going on with him last
year that people don’t know about. We were pitching him a lot and he was having
problems, not with his throwing arm, but with his other arm, his
shoulder.”

“I was talking about trying to
give guys days off,” Gaston said about Gonzalez. “And he’s probably one of the
guys I would do it to.”

“I’ve been saying it since we
started camp,” Gaston said. “I can’t wait to see some games and start being
able to have something to really evaluate all these young players and pitchers.
You really can’t tell anything until the games begin.”

“It’s been good so far,”
manager Cito Gaston said. “It’s usually an arm or a leg, or something. We’ve
got to move and get it going. I’m excited to be able to watch some games, which
is what it’s all about.”

“We’ll just give him a few more
days,” Gaston said about E5. “He’s OK, though. He’s probably going to play on
Friday.”

“It’s not anything new he hasn’t heard from Murph before, and he knows Murph
from the minor leagues,” Gaston said. “I’ve told him and Murph’s told him, too,
‘(Pitchers are) gonna come at you different. They’re gonna try and figure out a
way to get you out. It’s up to you to stick to your guns. I’ve always said you
dictate what you want to hit and that’s what he’s got to do.”

 “Pressure doesn’t bother him too
much. He’s pretty laid back,” Gaston said. “He got (a) nickname last year from
Scutaro. Scutaro called him Sleepy. He’s Sleepy till he walks up to that
plate.”

“Jenkins had one of the best,” Gaston said yesterday, settling into full
nostalgia mode at the Blue Jays spring training camp. “Fergie’s back foot would
not leave that mound. He was just all arm and he’d give you the same motion and
everything.

“Great changeup – although he had some kind of a slider, too.”

“The changeup is the toughest pitch to recognize what it is, the speed of
it,” Gaston said. “And that’s why they keep saying it. But pitchers don’t
realize it sometimes. They think because they take a little off they’re going
to get killed.

“It’s the best pitch in baseball because you can’t distinguish what it is.”

“I still like that kid,” manager Cito Gaston said about Loewen.
“I still think he has a good swing.”

“I’ll never forget I had Green here one time, when he was a kid,”
Gaston said, “and it seemed like every time I put him up there he was
hitting against a left-hander. I thought for a while that kid probably is
thinking I’m doing that intentionally.”

“The pitches he was swinging at were pitches he can’t hit,” Gaston
said. “I don’t think a good hitter is going to hit those. Good hitters
will probably take those — experienced hitters. I don’t believe any of them
were a strike. They all were balls.

“That’s one thing that’s he’s got to work on — get a strike. If he
takes those pitches, now he gets the chance to hit a fastball. Now you get a
chance to hit a ball you can handle.”

“We were just try to protect him a little bit,” Gaston said of
putting Snider in a platoon last year. “Trying to build some confidence
with him.”

“If he’s going to play every day, he’s going to have to hit some
left-handers,” Gaston said. “I’m not sure we want to really platoon
him. We haven’t really talked about it in-depth, but I’d almost think — at 22
years old — it’s almost better for him to go out and play [in the Minors]
instead of platooning [in the Majors].”

“We’re going to be aggressive in a smart way,” Gaston said.
“If pitchers are going to give it to us, we’re going to take it. We’re
going to do some things, some small things to try to win. We’re not going to
run ourselves out of games. If we do that, then that’s just crazy.

“But, we’re going to be aggressive and we’re going to do some things
that we haven’t done before, if I’ve got those kind of guys around to do it.
You still have to have the right people around to do it.”

“Jose knows how to get a good jump,” Gaston said. “He reads
pitchers well and Aaron’s going to be aggressive. That’s two good combinations
there.”

“We haven’t made that decision yet,” Blue Jays
manager Cito Gaston said. “He gave up one run but he pitched well.”

“Not to say that he can’t do it,” Gaston said. “Not to
discourage him … but if he’s facing the [No. 1] all the time, it’s going to be
tough. You certainly don’t want to destroy a kid at that age. So it’s something
we really have to think about.”

“It was a tough day out there with the wind blowing, one of those days you
love to be a left-handed hitter,” Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said.

Romero gave up two hits, had a strikeout and no walks. Gaston said Romero
looked a lot better this time than early last spring.

“Control problems,” Gaston said. “Now you don’t see that. There’s a little
bit of confidence along with the hard work. He looked great. I think he just
got a little careless at the end. Otherwise he pitched great.”

“The rest of it’s history,” Gaston said.

“You just have to remember one thing — he’s going to go against the
best,” Gaston said of the No. 1 starter. “Not to say that [Romero]
can’t do it. … But if he’s facing [a No. 1] all the time, it’s going to be
tough. Certainly, you don’t want to destroy a kid at that age. It’s something
that we really have to think about.”

“He’s got a chance to lead off for you,” Gaston said of Gathright.
“He’s got some speed there. We’re going to give him a chance. If he makes
this club, and say Snider doesn’t make this club as the left fielder, then we
might think about leading him off and dropping Bautista somewhere else.”

“There is a bit of a problem with the leadoff guy,” Gaston said
earlier this spring. “We might have to go to Bautista because Bautista
does get on, he walks. But he’s not a guy that you would just pencil in for a
leadoff man. … He just might be the guy to lead off for us because we don’t
have a leadoff man.”

“Now you don’t see that (inconsistency),” Gaston said about Romero after
Wednesday’s 7-6 loss to the Tigers. “That’s a little bit of confidence… along
with some hard work.”

“He did a good job, just like I said,” said Gaston about Rzepczynski.

“The record didn’t show how well he pitched for us last year.”

 “Like I said, when we leave, we leave
with him,” said Gaston.

“He throws strikes and that’s what I like about him.”

“I’ve seen him in the Florida State League two or three years ago,” said
manager Cito Gaston about Arencibia. “We didn’t see much from last year because
he was hurt. I think this kid is going to be a legit catcher. He can hit and I
like the way he moves around behind the plate.”

“He just missed his first one, too,” said Blue Jays manager Cito
Gaston, referring to Arencibia’s sacrifice fly in the seventh inning.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Gaston said of Drabek’s performance.
“He was just missing just a little bit. From talking to [Jose] Molina a
little bit, [pitching coach Bruce Walton] was telling me, he said he’s got good
stuff. He’s firm. He just missed a little bit on certain pitches — up a little
bit in the strike zone, But otherwise, his ball jumped. He was a little fired
up, too.”

“Tallet has earned the chance (to start) by all that he did for us last
year,” Gaston said.

“When a young pitcher understands what he did wrong, that goes a long way
toward making the adjustment he’ll need to make,” Gaston said about Drabek.

“If a guy knows what he’s doing out there, that means he can make some
sort of adjustment and get it right.”

“I like the way he pitched for us last year,” Gaston said about
Rzepczynski. “As I’ve said, his record surely didn’t show how well he
pitched for us last year, but he did a good job. And, he did a great job today.
Like I’ve said, when we leave, we leave with him.”

“We’re just going to give him a few more days,” Gaston said about
E5. “There’s nothing going on. He’s not hurt. I think he’ll probably play
on Thursday of next week. There’s nothing going on, He just feels a little weak
in that hand, so we don’t want to rush him. If he comes to me and tells me
he’s good before then, he’ll go before then.”

“I think I’ll leave him right where he’s at,” Gaston said about
Bautista with a chuckle. “He’s been swinging the bat, man, ever since he
got a chance to play at the end of last season. … He’s one of the guys I
thought about all winter for a leadoff guy. We didn’t really pick up anybody
else to do that job, so he fits it pretty good.”

“Mills looked like a different kid all together,” Gaston said.
“He looked even better than he did all last year, even in Spring Training
when everybody was so excited about him. I don’t know. It’s tough. It’s tough,
because if you look at what we have, I don’t know. [The rotation
race] is open. We’ll just hope he keeps going and see what happens.”

“I told him if he stays healthy he should move [up] pretty quick.”
said Gaston to Jenkins.

“Oh, man. Wow,” said Gaston, smiling. “He got a lean,
too. That means he can really get around those bases. He’s leaning the right
way. Inside lean. That’ll get you around there quick.”

“I never got a chance to see the real Shaun,” Gaston said. “I
know when I joined this club, when I got hired back here, Doc was one of the
guys that said, ‘Cito, you’re going to enjoy watching this kid pitch.’ Then,
his arm was hurt, so I never got a chance to see it.

“All I hear is good things. I’m looking forward to seeing if he’s
healthy at the end of the game, at the end of his two innings. That’s what’s
really important.”

“Just keep on doing what you’re doing.” Gaston said to Bautista.

“This kid gained a lot of confidence last year, and he was successful,”
Gaston said about Frasor. “You’d give him the ball and he did a great job for
us. He really just got over the hump

“We haven’t made that decision yet,” Gaston said about opening day.

“He’ll probably play about Thursday of next week,” said manager Cito Gaston
about Encarnacion. “There’s nothing going on. He’s not hurt. He just feels a
little weak in that hand and we don’t want to rush him. If he comes to me and
tells me he’s good to go, then we’ll go before then.”

“Second inning better than the first,” was Gaston’s first impression about
Morrow. “He just kind of dominated against some very good hitters.”

Chad Jenkins:

“I just wanted to be in the best shape possible coming into
camp. I didn’t want to be out of shape,” said Jenkins, now listed at 225
pounds. “I didn’t want to be struggling during conditioning, so I just
decided to get into really good shape before I showed up. The pounds just
started to come off.”

 

“That fried chicken and stuff that people in the south
love, if you quit eating it and come back to it, it does a number on your body
the next day,” he says. “Every day I feel better. I’m not tired. On
the field my arm feels better. … Taking off some pounds does help.”

“I was really nervous,” said Jenkins. “That’s the first time I’ve thrown in
a live game situation since May 15. I’ve really missed this feeling.”

Bruce Walton:

 

“He’s really starting to command it,” pitching
coach Bruce Walton said about Frasor’s change up/splitter. “Hitters are
going to have to start swinging at it, because it’s going to be a strike.”

 

“It makes it so
much easier in anything in life,” first-year Toronto pitching coach Bruce
Walton said about Morrow starting, “knowing what direction you’re going.

 

“He has the stature,” Blue Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton
said about Gregg. “He’s big, he don’t look real nice, and I don’t think he is
nice when he gets out on the mound. He has that appearance that he’s going out
there and he doesn’t even want to see you foul a ball off. That’s pretty
special.”

 

“He did something to it in a kitchen-type accident,”
said about Cecil pitching coach Bruce Walton, who did not indicate the injury
was serious.

 

“At the time, I hated the game,” Walton said, looking back at a turbulent
time in his life, during a break this week from the Blue Jays’ spring training
camp at Dunedin Stadium.

“I didn’t want to make a replacement team,” Walton said. “Hell, I could have
made that. I wanted to make a major-league team and that was it.”

“Who wouldn’t hate the game,” Walton said. “There was no major-league
baseball and here I am busting my butt, still trying to get back there, or
prove I could stay there, and there was nothing to do. There was no team to
make. I just didn’t like it.

“The game gives you so much at times and it takes so much out of you at
times.”

“I’d never even heard of Medicine
Hat,” Walton said, before readily accepting the new
challenge.

“Pitching was always No.1 and getting to the big leagues was always my
goal,” Walton said. “But I always had a pretty good knack of helping guys down
in the bullpen while I was playing. And I found I liked that part of the game.

“But it all really came down to one simple question – where did I see myself
being 10 years down the road?”

“From the day the season ended until that phone call from Alex I had no idea
what was going on,” Walton said. “I knew I was still under contract for another
year, which helped because I knew I wasn’t in trouble financially to have to
sprint out and find a job right away.

“But the not knowing if I was the bullpen coach for the Toronto Blue Jays hurt.
It was hard.”

Walton will readily admit that while he believes there is plenty of talent
in the mix, he really doesn’t know exactly what he has.

“I can’t wait to find out,” he said.

Scott Richmond:

 

“Americans,” he said jokingly, rolling his eyes. “No
respect.”

 

“I’m going to be doing some investigating around
here,” said Richmond, who is a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia
after his make shift gold medal was destroyed.

 

“I had 20 guys jumping and dancing in front of
me,” Richmond
said with a smile.

 

“It’s an opportunity I wish could have,” Richmond said. “To
get in there and just try and battle for a spot again, it brings out the best
in everybody and I’d like to be a part of that, contributing and trying to see
where I stack up with everybody. It’s exciting to go out there to compete with
the guys, but on the other hand, I’ve got to do it at 100 percent.”

“I was able to come back and pitch after being on the DL,” Richmond said. “I
came back feeling 100 percent, but it just got worse every time out. It never
stayed at 100 percent, and my numbers show it. It just kept going down. It was
frustrating. I’m trying to get up there and help the team and I don’t want to
be babying it. I’m trying to pitch and battle through it.

“It’s something I can overcome. It just makes me work harder. Plain and
simple, I can’t rush it and come back and not be at 100 percent and then have
to be down and up and rehab it again. I have to have it at 100 percent right
out of spring and keep it at that level the whole year. By taking good care of
it right now, that’s what we’re doing.”

“I just try to do what I can to help out and still have
a good time,” Richmond
said.

 

Brandon Morrow:

“I think it’s a good move for
me, yeah,” Morrow said. “The whole clean-slate thing. It relaxes the
mind, especially because they said coming in that it’s going to be a young
staff and they’re going to build it up.

“The next two or three years, I
think it’s going to be a great staff.”

“It will be nice to be in here
at this development stage, and they’ll let you develop,” Morrow says.
“And it doesn’t matter if I have four good starts and three bad starts.
I’ll still be out there.”

“Not that they were pushing me
in different directions mechanically, but it takes awhile for them to get to know
you, and for you to get to know them,” Morrow said.

“I don’t know,” he said.
“Probably, I guess. The first regime probably had a long-term idea of what
they wanted to do with me.”

“I don’t measure myself against
him, that would be awfully difficult,” Morrow said. “We’ve had such
different paths. I realize that.

“It doesn’t bother me, but the Seattle fans and media
made a big deal about it. I was always of the mindset that if Tim Lincecum were
a Mariner, he probably would have been in the bullpen in ’07.”

“All that stuff just stays in
the back of people’s heads,” Morrow said. “There was always the
thought that if I was still in Seattle,
that I could go back to the bullpen at some point.”

“That’s been answered for sure
over the last three years,” he said. “Physically, I feel better
starting. It puts me in a better spot mentally. It calms me down a
little.”

“I was rushing a little in the first inning but that’s hard not to do when
it’s your first outing facing the two-time NL champs with five All-Stars in a
row starting it off,” Morrow said. “Maybe I was trying to throw too many
strikes in the beginning. In the second inning I came out and was a lot more
aggressive,”

“Over the winter, I might have played catch more with my changeup than
I did my fastball,” Morrow said. “So I’m in a really good spot with
that right now.”

“That was a big pitch,” Morrow said.

“Yeah, I think they broke in the second inning was what happened,”
Morrow said about his curveball.

“Maybe [I was] trying to throw too many strikes in the beginning,”
Morrow said. “Then, the second inning, I came out and was just a lot more
aggressive. I’ve been going through my windup a little bit slower. Then, the
aggressiveness at the end of my mechanics was a lot better in the second inning,
and I threw some good pitches.”

Alex Gonzalez:

“This is my first time playing a lot of games (on turf) and I know it’s
really hard,” said Gonzalez, who signed with the Jays in late November. “But
I’ve got to put it out of my mind and go out there and do everything. I don’t
care (if I play on) turf or regular grass.”

“Thank God, it feels good, my knee,” he said. “I can do everything on the
field.”

Jose Molina:

“I think that was the key behind me leaving,” Molina said. “I think Jorge
was one of the guys who didn’t like it. I don’t think he had anything against
me, but he probably didn’t like the situation.”

“What I’ve heard, Buck is the No. 1 guy and I’ll be the backup,” he said. “I
know how to do my job.”

Jason Frasor:

“It changed my career,” Frasor said about his change up. “It
changed my life.”

“How many hitters can recognize that?” he said with a shrug.
“I don’t know.”

“I was just telling somebody that I don’t feel like last year was just
a string of good luck,” Frasor said. “I feel like, with the changeup,
I was much more consistent, and I can carry that over to this year and the next
year and the year after that. If you have a changeup, you can pitch
forever.”

“It’s been on and off — mostly off — for the first five years,”
Frasor said. “But I just kind of simplified it.”

One weekend did the trick.

“That’s all it took,” Frasor said with a smile.

“Last year, I figured it out, simplified it, and really have a good feel for
it,” he said.

“I got a lot of outs with it.”

“It’s funny,” Frasor said with a laugh. “When you walk
through his pitching clinic, there’s always high school kids, and [Bochtler]
walks around giving everybody the middle finger, because that’s the finger for
the changeup. It’s not meant to be, ‘Screw you,’ it’s, ‘That’s all you’ve got
to worry about is that one finger. That’s it.'”

“It’s the best role,” Frasor said about closing. “If I had
that role again, I’m honored to have that, because there’s some pretty good
pitchers on this team.”

“I don’t think you’re going to see any one guy get
absolutely worn out because I don’t think Cito has to [overuse anyone],” Frasor
said. “He can go to anybody.”

“It really didn’t matter [last year] what role I was in,” he said.
“Granted, the ninth inning does have a different feel, there’s no doubt
about that. Anybody that says the ninth inning doesn’t have a different feel
must be numb or something. The closer’s role is the best job on the team if
you’re good at it. If you’re shaky, it’s very stressful.”

“I can’t believe I’m here,” he said. “I was supposed to be released
from the Blue Jays many, many times from what I hear, from what I’ve read. All
of a sudden, I’m going on my seventh year with these guys and I love it
here.”

“It’s exciting,” he said. “I feel as good now and as
confident as I’ve ever been in my stuff. I don’t think I throw as hard as I did
in ’04 or ’05, but that’s all right. I have a changeup.”

“It’s a lot easier to pitch with three pitches than two. It quickly
became my best offspeed pitch — no doubt about it. My slider’s not really a
strikeout pitch. It’s just a third  pitch almost. But the changeup,
especially going through the AL East for a sixth year, it’s nice to have that
third pitch against those lineups. I got a lot of outs with it — a lot of outs
with it. It was my go-to pitch, man. Whenever I needed an out, if I was ahead
in the count, here it comes.”

“One through seven, I think this is the best bullpen we’re going to
have since I’ve been here. We don’t have a healthy B.J. [Ryan] closing it
out, but I think one through seven this is as solid as it’s been. Lefties.
Righties. Gregg. Accardo. Come on. I mean, who do you want to put in? Camp?
Carlson? Downs?”

“We don’t have that every fifth day off with Doc, that guaranteed eight
innings or nine-inning complete game. But that’s OK. That’s OK. We’ve got a
couple long guys down there and that’s fine, too. That’s fine, too. We’re not
going to get worn out, even if the starting guys are going five or six, because
our bullpen guys are so deep.”

“I think the key to last year was I got off to a good start and I was
confident. It was like, ‘Oh, OK. This changeup works. Then I just kind of
rolled that all the way through and it didn’t really matter what role I was in.

“I came up as a starter. I got sliced open, elbow surgery. After
surgery, it was really the first time I ever worked out. I never really worked
out. I just kind of showed up and threw. I always had a good arm, but once I
got moved to the bullpen… I got traded to the Dodgers and I wasn’t 6-foot-4.
I wasn’t good enough to start for them. Everybody was [tall]. That’s when I
gained my velocity, when I started to workout and I when I got moved to the
bullpen. The velocity came.

“I was 89-92 guy as a starter and then I moved to the bullpen and all
of a sudden it’s 95-96. You blow it out for one inning. And with the Dodgers I
felt like I was in trouble. I felt like I was going to be released, because I
was just kind of a throw in with that trade. So I was told, ‘Air it out, let it
rip.’ With them, if you hit the radar gun and you make it pop, they’ll keep you
around. So, let it rip. I did and I’ve been able to maintain that
velocity.”

“Honestly, yeah, I am surprised. I don’t know what else to say. I’m
just surprised that I’ve lasted. I started out good. The middle years, where
did I go? You’d think somewhere in there they [would have got rid of
me]. Coming off mediocre years, you never know.”

Jesse Carlson:

“Two days later I’m sitting in the bullpen, it just felt like I had a knife
up my arm,” Carlson said from the Toronto Blue Jays spring training camp Tuesday
morning. “It was bad.”

“I’m not going to say it did, I’m not going to say it didn’t,” Carlson said.
“It was uncomfortable on a daily basis. Obviously when I was out there pitching
I didn’t think about it. “

“But throughout the day and when I was done it was definitely sore. I was
getting treatment for it every day and it just never went away.”

 “So far so good,” he said.

“Going through the [American League] East, facing the same hitters – Boston, New York
– and coming up with something different, that helped,” Frasor said. “I got a
lot of outs with it because, with those lineups, they’re looking for a lot of
heaters.”

Ricky Romero:

“I was getting on
him(Bautista)” Romero said. “He hit a line drive right back at my shin. That’s
not a very good thing.”

“It’s going to finally be good to go out there and face a different team,
see where you’re at when they’re swinging at you,” Romero said. “I’m always
going to be competitive whether it’s a practice game, an intrasquad game or a
real game.”

“You’ve still got to go out there and prove yourself and continue to so
good,” he said Tuesday. “As long as I’m part of the rotation and I’m part of
the 25 guys going out there and competing, I’m fine with that.

“It’s going to finally be good to go out there and face a different team,
see where you’re at when they’re swinging at you,” Romero said. “I’m always
going to be competitive whether it’s a practice game, an intrasquad game or a
real game.”

“You can get a lot out of that, the whole control thing,” Romero said. “You
can tell where you’re at and what pitches need a little work, what kind of
swings the hitters take on you.

“Everything works off your fastball so I’d say that’s my best pitch. The out
pitch has always been my curveball but this early, it’s probably my changeup.
I’m comfortable with all my pitches.”

“It’s 3-1, I’m thinking don’t walk this guy, make a good pitch,”
Romero said. “Obviously, it stayed little up.

“That’s where the wind works against you.”

“I feel like we have to create our own identity as young guys,”
Romero said. “Halladay is gone and no one is going to be Halladay, no
one’s going to be Roy
here.

“We’ve got to create our own identity and be our own people. I feel if
we do that and look out for each other we’re going to be good.”

“I try not to think about where I might end up in the rotation,”
he said. “My one and only job is to go out there and give my team the best
chance to win and give us as many innings as possible.

“I don’t think anyone in our rotation or anyone that’s battling for a
rotation spot is thinking about who’s going to be the No. 1 or who’s going to
be No. 2. Wherever we stack up at the end, we’re going to be happy and go out
there and battle.”

“Oh, definitely,” Romero said with a smile. “I feel more
relaxed.”

“I’m thinking, ‘Don’t walk this guy, make a good pitch,'” Romero
said. “Obviously, it stayed a little up. It just goes on to prove that any
time you’re down in the count to any hitter, he’s going to make you pay,
especially if it’s down the middle.”

“I was feeling pretty good,” Romero said of his first outing.
“Talking to one of the trainers, they were like, ‘You look like you
could’ve probably gone eight innings today.’ That’s just the way I feel right
now. Everything feels good. I feel right where I need to be conditioning-wise.
I’m feeling good.”

“I want to be known as a strike-thrower,” said Romero, who threw 17 strikes
among 29 pitches Wednesday. “I told (pitching coach Bruce Walton) in the dugout
that I could care less about strikeouts. If I can get pop-ups and one-two pitch
outs, that cuts down on my walks…and I can go further into a game.”

“I felt like I threw strikes, that was the biggest thing,”

“That’s what I’m working on this spring: Throwing strikes and refining my
pitches,” he said. “I feel like I’m right where I need to be.”

“I feel more relaxed,” he said. “When I got behind in the count, I was able
to slow the game down to my pace and tell myself: ‘All right, I need to gather
myself here and make a good pitch.’ “

Randy Ruiz:

 

“Never, never, never,” Ruiz said from Toronto Blue
Jays camp. “I’m not a quitter. I have a very supportive family. We’re not
quitters.”

 

“[Sheesh], that’s a lot of home runs,” Ruiz said.
“I tell you what, I’m just happy to be up here.”

“This game is weird,” Ruiz said. “You never know; I could be
here one day and the next with another team.”

Ruiz ended it with a major league cliché — actually, a doubleheader:
“We’re going to leg it out and play it by ear.”

Kevin Gregg:

 

“It’s a building process,” the 31-year-old Gregg said.
“We’re not a $200-million payroll team. We got good money in the team, but
we’ve got a lot of young guys with a lot of potential and upside that can make
a good combination.”

 

“When you’ve got three guys that can close the door at the
back end, it really helps out the starters and their situation, too,” he said.
“It allows us to shorten the game.”

 

Adam Loewen:

“I’ve always enjoyed hitting more than pitching,” said Loewen, whose
mound days ended because of a stress fracture in his elbow, “but pitching
took me further. I gave it a shot. I enjoyed it. But now that I’m hitting, I’m
loving it. I couldn’t be happier.

“To have gone through my pitching career and know that I gave it
everything and there’s nothing else I could do, that really gives me peace of
mind that I can keep doing this without thinking, ‘Well, maybe I can go back
and pitch.’ It’s really not an option.”

“I am pretty far away,” he admitted. “Right now I’m just
learning my swing. I have an idea what’s going to make me successful. It’s just
constant repetition and repeating the same swing.

“Last year when I was working with hitting coaches, I thought I knew what
they were talking about. But now that I look back, I really didn’t have a clue,
because I had no game experience to compare things to.”

“At the end I was able to hit offspeed pitches, which I really didn’t do
all year,” Loewen said.

“It’s really learning how to get ready for a fastball. Once you can do
that, put your body in a good position to hit … last year it took me half a
season to figure out how to do that. Just getting my hands ready at the same
time my foot’s down and the ball’s arriving in the hitting zone.”

“I can let it go with no pain. I have to limit my throws and be smart
about it.”

“It feels like my arm’s slowly breaking,” he recalled, somehow
managing a chuckle

“That was the plan in the back of my head,” Loewen said,
“because I knew I was coming to the end. So I prepared myself for it and I
knew what I wanted to do right away.”

“It seems like an easy choice to me,” he said. “I’m in this ’til
the end.”

“I really didn’t realize how far away I was until the last year,” he
said. “Pitchers would see this big guy standing in the box [and think],
“OK, it’s [time to throw] junk.’ That’s when I had to learn.”

Said Loewen: “I think my drive’s a lot stronger now. I’ve been there, I’ve
tasted it, I know what it’s like.

“But I’m enjoying myself, right now, in the minor leagues, just as much as
I was when I was pitching in the majors. That’s really a sign for me that it
was the right decision.”

 

Jose Bautista:

“We know what’s going on obviously,” said Jose Bautista, who
played third base, batted leadoff, singled and was on the front end of a
first-inning double steal. “But I don’t think we can let it affect our
game. We have to go out there with the same goal. That’s to win games. If we
just focus on that, who knows?

“There’s been a couple of teams in the past that have had young
pitching staffs that are very talented like we do and they go out and get
results. I think pitching is the mainstay of the team. If they do a good job
and keep us in games, you never know because I think we’re going to score some
runs.”

“It was a pretty good day,” said Bautista, smiling at his locker.

“The leadoff guy is very important,” Bautista said. “I enjoy
the challenge. I think I’ve been fairly successful in the past when I have been
in that spot. I like it. I’m looking forward to it.”

“I wish we would’ve had a couple more games,” Bautista said with a
grin.

“You don’t feel like you have to necessarily get to second base,”
Bautista said. “You have two great guys that can drive in the runs no
matter where you are on the bases. They hit a lot of doubles and they hit a lot
of home runs. So you don’t feel like you have to push the envelope if you don’t
have to.

“There will be times where you can just settle for the walk instead of
swinging at that borderline pitch. Take the walk and let those guys go to
work.”

“Knowing that you’re going to be in there gives you a certain peace of
mind,” he said. “It takes a little pressure off of you sometimes in
the games. When you don’t know when you’re going to be in there, and you know
that if you get a couple of hits, it’s going to help your case, you maybe try
to do a little more than you need to.

“Being in there every day gives you the peace of mind that you don’t
have to go to that extent. You can just relax and let the at-bats play out and
just rely on letting your ability take over and just play the game.”

“It’s picking your times to go,” he said. “I know I’m not going to try to
bunt for hits all the time. I don’t have that kind of speed. But there’ll be
times when I think if Cito allows me I’ll be able to take some bags.

“I’m not going to go out there and try to steal 50 bags, but there’ll be
situations and pitches and counts with certain hitters at the plate that I’ll
be able to take it if the situation commands it.”

“They were just throwing a lot of good pitches to hit,” he said with a
shrug. “I was just trying to put the ball in play and getting some good wood.
Can’t complain about that.”

“It is spring training. We realize that. We’ve been around. We don’t let
this get us too excited. Just come in and get your work done and prepare for a
long season.”

“One of the most important things about last year toward the end was having
consistent at-bats,” he says. “That allows you to make adjustments. My better
years have been the ones when I have been playing consistently. It’s tough when
you are coming off the bench. It’s something you have to deal with when you’re
doing it, but it’s definitely more difficult.”

“I am getting ready for that leadoff role,” he said. “I am working hard on
that.”

“It’s a mental approach at the plate. I like to let the guys behind me see a
few pitches before they go up to the plate. Now, if they’re throwing balls over
the plate, I can’t take too many because I’ll fall behind. But other than that,
it’s just keeping the ball in play, especially behind in the count or with two
strikes.”

But, as he says: “I’m not Joey Gathright.”

“It’s a matter picking your spots,” he said. “There will be slow pitchers,
or catchers with sore arms, catchers with a slow release; situations where the
hitter might get a good pitch to hit.”

“I think I have more that type of speed,” he said. “Once I get going, and
I’ve got good judgment and know who’s playing, know where they’re playing, know
what kind of arms they’ve got and dependent on how hard the ball is hit, that
kind of thing.”

Vernon Wells:

 

“You go quite a few games without hitting one and it’s like,
‘I’ve really got to hit a home run,’ ” Wells said before his Toronto Blue Jays
opened their exhibition season in Dunedin,
Fla., on Wednesday.

“Before you know it, you haven’t hit one for another two weeks and it’s like,
‘OK, maybe I should stop trying to do this.’ ”

“It’s just about trying to undo all the bad habits I formed last year in my
swing. That’s what I’ve been working on every day, just getting back to driving
the ball up the middle and having a more consistent swing over the whole
season.”

 

Kyle Drabek:

 

“I got a text before spring training started,”
Drabek said, ” [asking] if it was all right if I had No. 4. I was like,
‘Yeah,. absolutely.'”

 

“I didn’t care,” Drabek said.

 

“No. 4. I’ve worn it every year since I’ve been in the minor
leagues.”

 

“No pressure,” he said of coming over in exchange
for Toronto’s
biggest start. “It’s still the same sport I’ve been playing my whole life.

“I talked to my dad a bunch and he said, ‘It (changing teams) is going to
happen. It’s a sport but it’s also a business. You’ve just got to kind of run
with it and do what you know how to do.’ “

 

“I have no idea right now,” he said. “I’m just hoping
everything works out for me wherever I go and try and get [to the big leagues]
as quick as I can.”

“I think it went all right,” he said. “My arm felt good. My changeup worked
real well for me. I was just leaving my fastball up and they were hitting it.”

“A little bit,” Drabek said. “It’s still me doing what I
love. So as soon as I got on that mound, everything kind of clicked in. It just
felt like I was pitching again — no distractions — just what I’ve been doing
since I was a little kid.”

“You know I want to,” said Drabek, who is considered the top
pitching prospect in the Jays’ system. “I just want to come out here and
do the best I can. Wherever I end up, I end up. I’ll try my hardest to make it
up there as quick as possible.”

“I was confused,” Drabek said with a laugh about the trade,
“and everyone was excited.”

Brett Wallace:

“Any time you get that first chance to play for a new team and to play in
front of your new teammates and coaches is fun and exciting,” he said.

“Definitely as an athlete and a competitor you’re always looking for your
next challenge,” he said. “For me I feel like my next challenge is in the big
leagues, so I’m going to work as hard as I can to get better every day.”

“I’ve been working really hard with (hitting coach Dwayne Murphy) …
and, hopefully, they’ll see that and when they think I’m ready they’ll give me
a chance.”

 “I’ve played it my first two years in
college so it’s not totally foreign,” Wallace said. “Having a chance to work
with Lyle who’s such a quality first baseman is a great opportunity. He has
taken me under his wing, showing me a lot of stuff.”

“We all the share the fact that we’re in the same trade,” said Wallace. “We
all came in here and took our physicals together, we came to the mini-camp
together and now here we are in camp together. It’s kind of fun to have a
couple of guys who are new together with you and learn everyone else’s faces together.”

“When you’re a young player,” Wallace said, “the thing you dream
about is having an organization that wants to push their youth and kind of
rebuild with that and not go out and maybe sign the big names and stuff, but
give their guys the chance. … It’s fun to just come over and be a part of
that, and I think as we grow together, we’re going to have a competitive team
in Toronto.”

“As an athlete and as a competitor you always want your next
challenge,” Wallace said. “And for me, I feel like my next challenge
is in the big leagues. I’m going to work as hard as I can to get better every
day.”

Travis D’Arnaud:

“For me it’s a great opportunity because John Buck and Jose Molina are here
and I’ve been asking them a lot of questions because they’re so experienced,”
he said.

“From the start, I didn’t feel like a loner in the clubhouse,” D’Arnaud
said. “They call us brothers because we’re always hanging out. And the first
day I came (to Dunedin)
for the physical, I met Brett. We’ve become really good friends now.”

“[Having] a lot of young guys [around] makes it a lot more fun than
[just] a lot more serious guys,” said d’Arnaud. “The whole team is
loose. We’re all really close. All of us pretty much have fun and know each
other pretty well. Everyone’s growing together.”

“When I heard it happened,” d’Arnaud said, “I was really
happy, because it’s a great opportunity for me.”

“That helped me a lot,” said d’Arnaud. “I knew someone. I
didn’t feel like a loner, I guess you could say, in the clubhouse. When me and
him are hanging out together, [teammates] actually call us brothers, because
we’re always hanging out, always talking. [The trade] opened us to meeting new
friends.”

“Obviously, tomorrow I wish I could be in the big leagues,”
d’Arnaud said with a smile. “Hopefully [I’m there] within the next few
years — I’m hoping. I’ll just come out and work hard and hopefully
succeed.”

“[The Phillies] got the best pitcher in the game,” said d’Arnaud.

J.P. Arencibia:

“You know what? All I want to do is be the player that I am,”
Arencibia said. “Last year, I tried to force their hand, and I was
thinking about trying to make it to the big leagues and that whole thing. I put
too much pressure on myself and it backfired. Whenever they feel that I’m
ready, I’ll be ready.”

“It’s just you’re young and everyone wants to play in the big
leagues,” Arencibia said. “It was more about trying to get to the big
leagues than just learning and taking things day by day and playing and being
myself. I was trying to hit three home runs in a game instead of just just
going out there and playing and letting it happen.”

“Everyone now doubts me,” Arencibia said. “I had a terrible
season supposedly. The thing is, I had a terrible season, but if you look at
it, for having the worst season ever, I still produced a lot more than a lot of
people.

“The biggest thing for me was I improved defensively last year.
Regardless of what I hit, I became a catcher. Now, guys are starting to
recognize that I am a good defender.”

“I hadn’t been 193 pounds since I played basketball in high
school,” Arencibia said with a laugh. “The kidney really didn’t
bother me, as far as physically. But it was more just in the back of my head
knowing that baseball is baseball, but my life is my life. I didn’t want to
lose a kidney, so that was kind of in the back of my mind.”

“Every doctor I talked to said, ‘Wow, you’re playing with that
vision?'” Arencibia said. “So that was my indicator.”

“There’s not only one team — I’ve realized that,” Arencibia said.
“For me, I know when I play to my abilities, I’m an everyday player in the
Major Leagues. I know I can be an everyday catcher in the Major Leagues. It’s
good to have him around, because I want to help him just like anyone helped me.
I’m not a guy who’s going to be like, ‘Oh, I don’t

“They’ve told me I have a good chance to be the guy one day,”
Arencibia said. “But I still need to prove myself and I need to get
better. I need to earn whatever I get.”

Shaun Marcum:

“Doc’s one of those guys that everybody looked up to,” Marcum said
recently. “He didn’t talk a whole lot, but you learned just by watching
what he did.”

“It feels like a brand-new elbow,” Marcum said. “I feel like
I’m 10 years old again. It takes me three throws to get loose and, other that
that, I just go out there and throw, and my arm feels great.”

“It’s a lot better than last year,” Marcum said with a smile.
“Last year wasn’t a whole lot of fun. I’m kind of looking forward to
getting out there and doing whatever I can to help this team win games. It’s
important to me. Last year was tough to sit there and watch games and not be
able to help.

“It’s going to be a fun year for us this year, and I’m looking forward
to it.”

Edwin Encarnacion:

“When I hit the ball off the end of the bat is when I feel the pain,” said
Encarnacion on Friday.

“Hopefully, I will be able to play next week.”

Brad Mills:

“I tried not to worry about anything except what I do in that circle,” a
relaxed Mills said. “That’s the kind of pitcher I am. If I throw strikes with
the heater, then that’s what you’re going to get. When I struggle, I don’t.
That’s me.”

Sal Butera:

“This kid is mature way beyond his years,” said Jays major-league scout Sal
Butera about Jenkins.

Luis Perez:

“When I would pitch, there would be, like, 30 fans,” said Perez
about the Dominican Summer League. “Maybe 25.”

Tony LaCava:

“To produce impact major-league players. That’s the primary goal,”
said Tony LaCava, the Jays’ vice-president of baseball operations. “But
there’s definitely a philosophical change (from last season), not to say that
what was done before was wrong.”

“It’s important that our younger players get more time together with
our co-ordinators,” LaCava said. “It’s a little different than
developing NCAA players.”

Jim Leyland:

It was Gaston’s first look at the 22-year-old Drabek, who is the son of
former major league pitcher Doug Drabek. But not so for Leyland, who managed
Drabek’s father many years ago in Pittsburgh.

“The kid’s got a good arm, good rotation on his breaking ball,”
noted Leyland. “I haven’t seen him since
he was that big (holding out his arm).”

“The kid looks good,” Leyland said. “He has
got a good arm and good rotation on his breaking ball.”

Can I Get A Quote, Please?

Feb. 22 – 28

Vernon Wells:

“(I should) probably try hitting the ball,” he said, with wry humour
Wednesday as he arrived at training camp. “That’d be a good start. Do
it consistently. That’d be another good way to go.”

“It is what it is,” he said. “You learn from it. It’s better to
learn from struggles. You’re really not going to learn much from
succeeding all the time. You go through your struggles and the way you
react to them, the way you come back from them, will define who you are.

“Everybody plays through different things,” he said.

“I’d rather be on the field and try to do what I can as much as possible no matter what injury you have.

“Obviously, it’s frustrating from an outsider’s point of view and it’s
frustrating from my standpoint because I want to be better than I was.
You just use it as fuel to get better.”

“This off-season was just about hitting, getting the strength back in my wrist and forearm and I’m good to go,” he said.

“I gave my old body a chance to recover. I did some working out but now
it’s all about gearing up for April. The last couple of off-seasons it
seems like I’ve been gearing up for February and then wearing down.”

“I think he’s been amazing,” Wells said. “To come in and make the kinds
of changes he’s made in his first year as a GM is impressive. He’s got
a direction that I think everybody’s on board with and everybody is
looking forward to. It’s an exciting time, even if there might be a
step backwards at certain points.”

“I want to be there,” he said. “I want to get back to doing what I’m
accustomed to doing and that’s helping this team win and driving in
runs.”

“Obviously, Cito knows if I’m where I need to be I’m going to help this team win games.”

“I’ve got him on that one,” Wells said about Hill. “It’s weird. It’s one of the first times that I’ve felt like this is my team.

“Over the years, you lose a Carlos (Delgado), you lose a Roy. I’ve been
able to spend some time with a lot of these young guys in the mini-camp
and just pick their brains and get a feel for where they’re at.”

“I was ready (to lead) then,” Wells said “It’s that feeling that ‘This is my team’ wasn’t there. I felt
it was partly my team, with (pitcher) Roy Halladay the other part.”

“Things change in a hurry,” Wells said. “I remember being here and
Carlos [Delgado] and those guys being here and I was a young guy trying
to make a ballclub and, now, it’s completely changed.

“It’s a fun role to be in,” he said. “Guys look at you to do the right
things and how to be successful at this level. It’s a role I’m looking forward
to. For me, it’s pretty easy. You expect guys to go out and play hard. That’s my
point to everybody. There’s one thing you can control in this game and that’s
going out and playing the game the right way and respecting the game. Things
will work out after that.”

“It’s
a learning process and it’s going to be fun going through it with these
guys.”

“Now it’s just a matter of gearing up for April. I think over the last
couple of offseasons I was gearing up for February and (later in the season)
kind of wearing down.”

“I think ‘retooling’ is a better word. We’ve got guys that are
close. We’ve got some young arms that got some experience last year and
it’s a period of getting to where we need to be. Whether that’s now or
next year, we’re building toward something. We’re building toward an
organization that can be strong for years instead of a year or two.”

“I don’t know. Apparently there’s mathematics that can go along
with catching a fly ball or something. I don’t know. I just say ask the
pitchers that are on the mound and ask the guys that are hitting in the
box and they’ll answer that question for you.”

“We’ve got guys that can play. I think it’s been lost obviously
with what the Yankees have been able to do, what the Red Sox have been
able to do, what the Rays have been able to do in our division. We’re
not going to put any limitations or expectations on what we’re going to
do. We’re going to go out and play hard and at the end of the day just
look at ourselves in the mirror and say, ‘You know what? We did what we
could to help this team win today,’ and move forward.”

“I think a lot of things kind of got blown out of proportion with
that. It’s a family. Youre around guys for almost 200 days including
Spring Training and you’re going to have issues regardless of who it
is. You deal with them in-house and unfortunately this got out, but I
don’t think it was any bigger than anything else that goes on in any
other clubhouses.”

“It’ll be different. It’ll be different playing in center field and
every fifth day not seeing No. 32 on the mound. But, to be honest with
you, those were boring days for me. I didn’t do much in the outfield.
I’d yell at him sometimes, but he wouldn’t hear me.”

“The real pain didn’t really come until about three weeks in the
offseason. Once the cortisone shots and the anti-inflammatories were
out of my system, it hurt to turn a wheel. So I said, ‘I should
probably get this looked at again. They went in and looked at it and
said, ‘Let’s get it cleaned out.’ I saw the before and after images and
it was pretty neat. I got to see the inside of my wrist and it looks
normal again.
“There was just fraying and it was inflamed. It was pretty ugly.
I don’t know. I learned some different things about the wrist and
tendons and everything else that goes along in there. I’m a little
smarter because of it and it’s taken the slice out of my golf swing, so
that’s good.”

The Cito:

“We’re going to need him to step up,” manager Cito Gaston said about Vernon. “It
can’t be all on him but if he can come back and even hit as well as he
did two years ago when he hit .300 and he did hit 20 home runs, that
will be something.”

“You’re going to have bad nights and you’re going to have to handle them
the right way. You’re going to have good nights and you’re going to have to
handle them the right way,” Gaston said. “Leadership is tough to do. Some
people are leaders, some are not.”

“We really don’t have a leadoff man,” Gaston said  “We might have to go to (Jose) Bautista … but he’s not a
guy you would just pencil in (as) a leadoff man.”

“He showed me he could handle it last year and I’ll tell him what I
always tell my leadoff men: You’re only the leadoff man in the first
inning,” Gaston said.

 

“Devon White didn’t want to be a leadoff hitter. I said, `Devon,
it’s just one time.’ After that it was all right. I never asked him to
act like a leadoff hitter, like to go up there and walk. (I said) go up
there and be aggressive and he did that and he was great.”Gaston
reiterated his belief that his lineup is loaded with potential 20
home-run sluggers, starting with Bautista and going through six, maybe
seven spots.

“Bautista has a chance to hit maybe 20-25 home
runs because he’s done it before,” Gaston said. “Then, of course,
you’ve got Hill, you’ve got Lind and Vernon who hit 20 home runs the
year before. Then you’ve got Overbay you hope can hit you 20 and
you have Encarnacion; he might hit 20.

“You’re
talking about the first six hitters. If Snider makes the club
he might do it, too. I think this club right now, the strength is the
hitters.”

“Wow. That ball was moving,” Gaston said about Jenkins. “It moves. It sinks. He threw
Vernon a high, running sinker that would just eat you alive. I’m just
glad Vernon got out of the way. I think he’s going to come pretty
quick.”

“He’s gotten himself into great shape,” Gaston said. “He told me
he’d lost 25 pounds. I asked him how he had done it and he made it very
simple when he said ‘I can afford it now.’

“It’s so true. People don’t realize that people who don’t have money
can’t go on diets because they have to eat what they can afford.
Instead of eating at McDonalds as a student, he can afford to eat
something that’s healthy for him.”

“Tallet has earned the chance (to start) by all that he did for us last year,” Gaston said.

“It’s very important (to have veterans) and the way he goes about his job,”

“I was really impressed with Encarnacion,” Gaston said. “He was
swinging really well for the first day. Put a couple out over the
left-field fence that a lot of guys couldn’t reach (Wednesday).”

“I think he deserves a chance,” Gaston said. “This kid
(Ruiz is 32) has hit everywhere he’s went. You put him in there day in
and day out, or DH him day in and day out, I believe he’d hit you over
20 home runs.”  I think he’d drive
you in close to 80-90 runs and hit .280 or so in the big leagues.”

“Randy is a guy that I believe, given the chance to play and get 300
at-bats, could hit you 20 home runs,” said manager Cito Gaston, who is
a big Ruiz fan. “He has hit everywhere he has gone but he’s been unfortunate to be on teams where he just never got a chance.”

“To worry about, ‘Hey, this could
be my last year here,’ I think that’s something you should put aside
and just go, ‘Hey, I’m going to have the best year ever and I’ll give
them the chance of bringing me back or not bringing me back.”‘ Gaston said about Overbay


“Marcum and McGowan should be able to bounce back (from injury) and
we know their histories. Ricky was solid last year. Tallet has earned
the chance by all that he did for us last year. And I think Morrow
needs to know his job and, from what I hear, I’m not sure he knew that
(in Seattle). That’s not my team out there so I don’t know what’s going
on.”
“I think that would be a pretty good starting rotation,” Gaston said. “But a lot of things can happen.”

“That’d be a great, great surprise for us,” if McGowan proved healthy

“Ricky looks fine,” Gaston said. “If he doesn’t get hurt last year who knows what he might have done.”

“One thing you have to keep in mind,” Gaston said, “is that the No. 1
guy, he’s always facing the best pitchers in baseball. Not to say that
Ricky can’t do that, but he’s still young. I don’t know who it’s going
to be. It depends on who’s healthy.”

Gaston said he’d rather have an opening day starter who’s “been around
a little bit longer, someone that’s got a little but more experience.
But Ricky, I wouldn’t put it past him.”

“It was a tough day to hit off pitchers,” manager Cito Gaston said.

“There was a lot of looking going on.”

“I think they’re capable of doing it. Expected to do it? No, I wouldn’t
put that on them. I think they’re going to get pitched differently.
They’re certainly going to get a lot of respect.” Gaston, asked if Hill
and Lind are expected to repeat last year’s performances

“Hill is a great kid. He said, ‘I’ll hit anywhere, even sixth if you want.”

“He wants to come back now. I said, ‘Jesse, we want you out
there healthy.’ You watch him throw, it doesn’t look like there’s
anyting going on there [with his arm], but you still can come back too quick.” –Gaston, on Jesse Litsch

“I can’t wait to get started, to see these kids pitch and see who can pitch their way on this club.”

“Downs is a good guy,” Gaston said. “He isn’t going to
mind being a closer or a setup guy. It’s not going to bug him if he
doesn’t do one or the other.”

“He turned a corner for me last year,” Gaston said about Frasor. “I
approached him a couple of times on the mound and he showed me that he
wanted that ball out there. He didn’t mind being out there and closing
a game out. I like what I see. I thought he did a great job for us.
He’s certainly in the mix.”

Boy Wonder:

“Everybody’s
got to be out there competing,” Anthopoulos said. “In
Brandon’s case, we certainly would expect him to make the team, but he
knows he’s got to earn his way on as well.”
“This is probably the first offseason and Spring Training where it’s
been a clear, defined role for him being a starter,” Anthopoulos said
“In talking to him a little bit, it seemed like that’s something that
he’s hoped for, knowing what his role is going to be. Irrespective of
what happens, irrespective of performance, we’re committed to him as a
starter.

“Could that change down the road? Sure. But right now, we’re
100 percent fully committed to leaving him as a starter, and we have
had no discussions and no plans at all to even entertain anything
else.”

“I understand there’s a lot of
talk in the off-season and he’s in the last year of his deal and it’s
clear we’re going with a younger-type team,” Anthopoulos said about Overbay. “He
understands the direction we’re going, but he also realizes that he
wants to help the team win and wants to have as good a year as he can.
We’ll see how things go.” 

“I think with him, it’s just too early to tell. We’re
so early in the process. I mean, if we get to that point that we start
talking about an innings cap, I think that’s great news for us. That’d
be a great problem to have.” –Anthopoulos, asked if McGowan might face
an innings limit this season

“We still think that Travis Snider is a big part of our future,” Anthopoulos said “But he is not
guaranteed a spot on our team heading into the season. He has to come
into camp and earn it.”

“Without getting specific on players,” Anthopoulos said, “we’re trying
to be as aggressive as we can and explore every player. At least doing
our homework and making sure we’re scouting these players, evaluating
them, getting to know them a little bit; finding what the price points
are and if they line up with the value we put on them.”

“Obviously finding what the price-points are and if they line up with
how we’re evaluating the players.  It’s tough in Latin America
with some of the things that go on down there.
“But we’re trying to maybe be a little more aggressive and scout a little bit harder than we did in the past.”

“That being said, are we going to see every international player?
Probably not. But, that’s something that I just sat down with Marco
[Paddy, director of Latin American operations] last week and we’re
trying to devise a plan of, ‘How can we do our best to see as many of
these players as we can?

“There’s no cap if it’s the right baseball opportunity. We need to get
approvals for the things we do but there are no limits or ceiling that
we have to work with. We just have to feel it’s the right move for us.”

“Yes, 100 per cent,” Anthopoulos confirmed.

“I’d really
say there’s no cap as long as it’s the right baseball opportunity. Even
when we were talking about Chapman, (Jays president) Paul (Beeston)
made it very clear in talking to ownership that if we felt it was the
right baseball opportunity … and it was the right move for us, then
they would endorse and certainly support it.

“Ownership is committed to spending when we feel it’s the right time
to spend and it’s the right opportunity,” Anthopoulos said. “We’re not
going to go into the draft shying away from certain players because
they’re too expensive. If we feel the value is there, we’ll have the
money to go sign those players.

“It’s a big opportunity to infuse a lot of talent into the minor leagues.

“We’re certainly working hard. If there was any a time to add staff,
this was as good a year as any. This is a big chance for us.”

“You’ve got to take the best player,” Anthopoulos stated. “We’re
trying to get players that we would have a hard time getting in free
agency and (whom) we would have a hard time getting in trades. As a
result we’re going for a higher ceiling. There’s going to be more risk.

“Certainly, you’re going to make mistakes; you’re not going to hit
on all of them. If in 10 years, you hit on two high ceiling, high
impact guys, I’d rather have those two guys than five solid, average
big-league players because we always feel those are the players we can
get in trades and we can get in free agency.”

“In baseball, it’s not like the NFL or the NBA,” Anthopoulos said.
“It’s very rare that you draft a player and he’s with your team the
following year. Knowing how quickly things change — guys getting hurt,
performance dropping off, trades occurring — you can’t start picking on
positional need. You’ve got to take the best player. Things work
themselves out.”

Bruce Walton:

“There are a lot of guys here,” Walton said. “A lot of guys. It’s a big test for me.”

“Obviously, I can’t control how many pitches it takes for them to get
three outs,” Walton explained. “I can’t control how many times they get
up in the bullpen and stuff like that. But on our throwing days, our
side days, our long-toss days, we’re just going to manage them with
common sense and try to save bullets in those areas where, hopefully,
you keep them fresher day-to-day and game-to-game.”

“They love to play catch. They’re pitchers. That’s what they do,”
Walton said. “When they start playing catch, it’s fun for them, but I
think sometimes we go overboard a little bit. I think we do waste some
bullets, and I just want to control it the best I can.”

“Is that saving bullets?” Walton said. “No, but it’s using your bullets
at the right time before you come to the mound to get your work in.”

“I don’t think it’s in response to anything other than the inexperience and the younger kids that I will have,” Walton said.

“Hopefully I get them to understand that making the team, not making
the team, it’s not that big of a deal,” Walton said. “Everybody is
going to have an opportunity, I think, to come up over the course of
the year. Hopefully by my patience and the way I talk and the way I
teach, it slows guys down a little bit.”

“I don’t know where I’m going exactly,” he said with a laugh. “But I know that I’ve started at the right spot.”

Johnny Mac:

“We’ve really enjoyed our time (with Toronto),” said McDonald, referring to his wife and daughter.

“It was an easy thing to come back to.  “I want to be a professional baseball player
and what a great opportunity to continue my career, to be on this team,
a young rebuilding team, pass along knowledge and also get an
opportunity to play.”

“We knew the later it gets, the offers are going to go down, the
financial terms are going to go down,” he said. “You see a lot of
players are still not signed. The Blue Jays were aggressive, and that’s
great.”

“I would hope the younger players would use a player like me as a
source of knowledge,” said McDonald, who arrived in camp yesterday,
five days ahead of schedule. “I wouldn’t necessarily want to teach
young kids to be just like me but over the last 10 years I’ve taken in
a lot of knowledge that I’d like to give back to young players.”

“So you kind of want to be, not necessarily a coach on the field, but I
would encourage and will encourage all our younger infielders to ask as
many questions as they can.

“I would want them to take my job. To be able to make them better
players, to come and take my job, I think it helps the organization.”

“Over the last few years, there has been hope when we come to spring
training,” McDonald said. “We always knew, with Roy as our ace we could
go into New York or Boston and win any series if we’ve got Doc on the
mound. Now it’s different. We’ve got a much younger staff. It’s more
about building for this year and for the future.

“As players we have to separate out own views and our work away from
what the fans are thinking. You want to win every game you can for
them, for the city and for ourselves. But to understand that we have a
lot of young players, a lot of good quality players who are going to be
very good in time. Maybe they’re not going to be great on opening day,
but we can be very good over time.”

“The better we play defensively the more it’s going to help our young
pitchers, the more confidence we’re going to give to them to execute
pitches; to not be afraid to throw pitches that are going to get put in
play. It’s okay to throw that pitch for a strike that gets put in play
and let your defence make that play.”

Chad Jenkins:

“I’ve been told by some of the veterans to just know your place,”
Jenkins said. “That’s what I’ve tried to do. I keep my mouth shut and I
stay to myself.”

“I felt bad for Lind,” Jenkins said with a laugh. “I didn’t feel like I
gave him anything to hit. I was a little nervous. It’s my first hitter
and, of course, my first hitter was Lind. And I was like, ‘Uh oh. I’m
going to be all over.’ I couldn’t find the zone. I think he gave me a
pity swing on a changeup. After that, I settled down just fine.”

“As most college students know, the budget’s not quite there,” Jenkins
said. “It’s just the type of food I have available to eat now. I don’t
have to live off dollar menus. Especially being on the road while
you’re in school, meal money might cover McDonald’s on a good day. You
just didn’t have time to eat good food.

“You start taking care of yourself and your body starts taking care of you.”

“To
hear stuff like that is a huge compliment,” he said. “That’s awesome.
I’m glad I threw up some good stuff on the first day.”

Tony LaCava:

“We saw a physical kid, although maybe not in the best condition,” said
LaCava, referring to scouting Jenkins as a college pitcher. “What he’s
done to himself this winter is really impressive. He got after it and
he did it the right way. He really transformed his body.”

“We’ll let him tell us where he should begin with his performance this spring,” LaCava said

Travis Snider:

Has lowered his hands in his stance. “Simplifies the load,” Snider explained.

“My dad keeps things in perspective,” Snider said. “Together we have
gone through a lot in baseball and in life as well. Our relationship
has only gotten stronger throughout this. He does a great job of
putting things in perspective and realizing how far I’ve come and we’ve
come as a family.”

“I’m still young, and you try and learn as much as you can at a young
age to prepare yourself for some of these things that I, honestly,
wasn’t prepared for,” he said. “I think going into it now you
understand how blessed and how thankful we really need to be as
athletes [at] having this opportunity and not taking that for granted.

“I wouldn’t say I took it for granted, but sometimes you lose you’re
perspective on where you’re really at, and what kind of opportunity you
have.”

“I went through some mental struggles from a baseball standpoint that
I’d never had to deal with,” he said. “I’d never had to deal with that
kind of failure and being sent down. I didn’t know how to handle it.
Didn’t know how to turn on that switch every day. I think, (being sent
down) was the best thing that could have happened to me as a young man
trying to grow up, keep things in perspective. You watch guys that are
successful and their concentration level never changes.”

 

“I told Jay (Stenhouse, P.R. vice-president) I’m probably not going to
give the most emotionally controlled answer and the most appropriate
answer,” Snider recalled. “It’s an experience I learned from. Sometimes
I’ve just got to take a step back.”

“Adjustments at this level are key,” he said. “I stopped making those
adjustments at the end of April, beginning of May and, for a while at
triple-A, I was reluctant to listen to some of the people. They were
trying to help me and I backed myself into a corner. As a strong-minded
person, you think you know everything. This year, I’m excited to utilize
those people around me.”

“Lindy’s a great example because he’s experienced a lot of the things
that I’ve experienced as well as a little bit more,” Snider said.
“We’re able to feed off each other and develop a real good relationship
on and off the field.”

“It was the same I think I had last year,” he said. “I feel like we’ve
got some good competition in camp. We’ve got a great group of young
guys, that we’re all kind of in this together, on-the-bubble guys that
really have to come out here and prove ourselves in spring training and
early in the season.

“And I think it’s great.”

“There’s a lot of us on the
bubble and it’s healthy competition. Hopefully, we can build a good
nucleus here, something strong that we can develop as a group.”

“I’m here to win a job,” said Snider. “Coming off last year’s
performance, how could anybody guarantee me a job? I have to earn it.

Brandon Morrow:

“There’s no guarantees,” Morrow said. “I’ve got to, obviously, earn my
spot. But if I’m not in the rotation here, it will be at whatever level
they decide, I guess. But, personally, I expect myself to be in the
rotation in Toronto. Having that knowledge that you’re going to be a
starter helps. It’s just a totally different mind-set really, right out
of the gates.”

It’s really important mentally,” Morrow said. “The back and forth in
Seattle starts to wear on you a little bit, and it’s nice to know that
you’ve got a position and that’s what you’re working towards. You don’t
have to think about two different things at one time and try to prepare
yourself for two different roles at one time.”

“I think I would be in a different spot as a starter but you can’t say
enough about getting major-league experience,” he said. “I’ve got 160
innings at the major-league level. I’ve got over 100 appearances.
That’s a lot of time. Experience is valuable.

“I think it’ll help accelerate working as a starter, because
there’s that comfort level. It takes a while just to get comfortable
out there, and what I’m starting to learn now is that I don’t have to
be 100 percent every pitch.

“I’m starting to find that comfort level where I can cruise, and it helps with my control and stamina and everything.”

“I checked the Internet and there wasn’t anything on there,” Morrow
recalled about being traded. “So it was a little bit of a surprise. I knew something was
up, though.”

“It’s impressive,” Morrow said. “There’s a lot of arms here — a lot of
great arms with a lot of good stuff. It’s going to be a great Spring
Training. Guys are really going to be pushing each other, and I think
that’s going to help everybody out.”

Kevin Gregg:

“Talking to (GM) Alex it’s a chance to pitch late in ball
games in the AL East,” Gregg said. “It’s the chance to sort of help out
a bullpen that is looking for a couple of guys to fill in.”

“Whatever role we all end up in, you’re making that game pretty
deep,” Gregg said. “It’s going to help out the starters, and seeing
these guys are pretty young for what they’ve accomplished, it allows
them to shorten the game. We’re not going to have to push those guys to
try to get them into the seventh or eighth inning. When you’ve got
three guys that can just close the door at the back end it can really
help out the starters in their situation.

“It lets everybody grow.”

“You never want to lose your job,” Gregg said. “It was a good chance
for them to see Carlos Marmol and see if he could handle the ninth
inning, which he hadn’t done before. Obviously I was struggling at what
I was doing. They’ve got to look to their future at the same time.

“For
me, last year was a chance, where it was the first year after knee
surgery. It was feeling a lot better than it was before, but there were
some mechanical issues that I was trying to (balance). My leg was
stronger than the year before. I still pitched in over 70 games last
year – and I just think bouncing with that stuff I got myself back in
the right slot where I need to be and look forward to it.”

“When I was pitching with the Angels, I actually enjoyed going into
Yankee Stadium, enjoyed going into Boston,” Gregg said. “I keep
changing (teams) every couple of years so I don’t know any better. I’ll
put on a jersey wherever it may be. I’ve seemed to bounce through four
teams over the years, so it’s just another step in my career.”

“If you look back at the last few World Series teams, the depth of the
bullpen has played in huge,” Gregg said. “Those teams that make the
playoffs, they have a bullpen they can establish and go forward that
really helps them get through.”

Lyle Overbay:

“To be honest, yeah. Absolutely,” he said. “The way they’re going, it seems like they’re setting the table for the young guys.” 

I’ve been there before. I’ve
been there with Prince Fielder,” Overbay said Thursday. “When (Wallace)
is ready, he’ll be here. They have to look to the future.”

“There’s always somebody behind you. It’s just the way this game is,” he said.


“They’ve got their plan,” Overbay said. “I think the biggest thing is
hopefully they’ll stick to it. When you start doing something, and they
start pushing the panic button and start doing something different,
that’s when it leaves the organization in turmoil.” 

“Alex told me that I’m here and they want me here. That’s all I want,” Overbay said. 

Jose Bautista:

“I was wishing the season was about a month longer, the way I was
going,” Bautista said “Playing every day helped a lot and
being in the leadoff spot, I really was seeing a lot of pitches to hit.
I started feeling good at the right time. I worked out some things in
the cage with Murph (hitting coach Dwayne Murphy) and I think
that really helped. Obviously the consistent playing time helped too.”

“I’m definitely excited to be back but I’m not setting my mind on
anything,” he said. “I’m not counting on having a regular job. I’m just
going to go into camp as I usually do, knowing I have to prove myself.
That’s the mindset I’m going to have.
“Any time you can find a way to put yourself in the lineup, it’s
good. I feel very comfortable out there and I like playing the
outfield. In the leadoff spot, I saw a lot of good pitches to hit, so
hopefully if I’m in there again, I can take advantage of that.”

“I welcome the challenge and I hope that’s the spot I’m going to be
in,” Bautista said. “You just have to be a little more patient … and
you’ve got to get on base so (your teammates) can drive you in. By
taking a couple of pitches you can accomplish both those things and I
have no problem doing that.”

Shaun Marcum:

“Doc’s one of those guys that everybody looked up to,” Marcum said. “He
didn’t talk a whole lot, but you learned just by watching what he did.”

“Opening day start, whatever,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. I just
want to pitch when it’s my turn to pitch, and the main thing for me is
staying healthy, whether it’s Opening Day or not. Whoever gets the
Opening Day start, take the ball out there and give us a chance to win
— whether it’s me, Ricky, Tallet, Brandon Morrow — whoever it is.
“Every one of us has a chance to go out there and help this team win, and that’s all I care about.”

“It feels like a brand-new elbow,” Marcum said. “I feel like I’m 10
years old again. It takes me three throws to get loose and, other that
that, I just go out there and throw, and my arm feels great.”

“He’s (Overbay) probably worried about getting hit, not the movement on the
ball,” said Marcum. “It’s good when we talk with them afterward. Johnny
Mac (McDonald) said he thought that ball was coming out of my hand
pretty good. It helps to hear from the hitters.”

“It’s a lot better than last year,” he said with a smile. “Last year
wasn’t a whole lot of fun. I’m kind of looking forward to getting out
there and doing whatever I can to help this team win games. It’s
important to me. Last year was tough to sit there and watch games and
not be able to help.

“It’s going to be a fun year for us this year, and I’m looking forward to it.”

“I think Toronto was at home to Boston and I was watching the game on
TV in the hospital,” he said. “My wife wasn’t too thrilled about that.
But I didn’t know what I was supposed to be doing.”

“I thought I could have (come back) but that was probably just the
competitor in me trying to rush back and pitch,” he said. “When I look
back at it now, it was probably a smart move that I didn’t.”

“We have a lot of good arms here,” Marcum said. “I think our pitching
staff is going to be better than people might give us credit for. I
think we’re going to surprise a lot of people. It’s going to be a
battle all year long for us.”

Dustin McGowan:

“I think it’s a blessing in a way,” the 28-year-old McGowan said of the
Jays’ roster dilemma. “Guys don’t want any options. They want to get
rid of them. That way if something little happens they can’t get sent
down or stuff like that.”

“I think the knee (injury) was the biggest blessing there was,” McGowan
said. “At that point I just started throwing and (the shoulder) was
aching. I was throwing 45 feet, it was aching. The next day I had the
knee injury and it just gave me five or six weeks of no throwing to
rest. Once I had that rest it felt pretty good. I think that really
helped.”

“It kind of steps your game up a little bit,” McGowan admitted. “It
gives you a bit of motivation, if they want to count me out.”

Ricky Romero:

“It’d definitely be a really, really awesome experience,” Romero
admitted. “Not very many guys get to do that — it only happens once a
year. It’d be exciting. It’d be really, really exciting, but I’m not
too worried about it.”

“It’s not something that I’ve thought about,” said Romero. “It would be
an awesome experience but it’s going to take 25 guys to pull us
through.”

“This year I came in mentally stronger, thinking, ‘You can do it. You can pitch at this level. You belong here.”‘

“Mentally, it makes a huge difference to have that confidence in your ability and to know that you belong,” he said.

“You get a little more adrenaline when you see a hitter in the box,”
Romero said. “I think that’s more of what it was, kind of getting used
to it again. I could tell from the first couple of pitches that I was a
little excited.

“Once I settled down, everything was just kind of fluid and it was
kind of muscle memory from there on. It’s coming back little by little
and, hopefully I’ll peak at the right time.”

“The biggest thing is to keep working,” he said. “You’ve got to stay
dedicated and have that desire to keep getting better. I look at those
three D’s: Discipline, dedication and desire.
“It comes down to who wants it more. I feel like I’m hungry out there and I want to get better.”

“Biggest thing I’m focused on is throwing strikes,” he said. “I have to
slow my whole body down mechanically. I tend to get excited and rush
and typically I come in every spring and get off to a slow start.”

J.P. Arencibia:

“Last off-season I played in the (Arizona) Fall League and there was an
obvious problem – I couldn’t see at night too well,” Arencibia
explained. “I had a pretty bad astigmatism. We elected not to do the
(laser) surgery and to try to wear Oakleys (sports eyewear) and
contacts. My astigmatism was at the point where it didn’t help. I had
to wait to the end of the season to get my corrective procedure done.”

“I was losing function in my right kidney,” Arencibia said. “If it got
any worse, (doctors) wanted to operate. They knew if I made it through
the season without losing any more function in my kidney, as soon as
the season was over I was going to get the surgery done. It’s called a
UPJ obstruction. Your kidney drains into your bladder, it’s a blockage.
So they go in and cut out the blockage and they connect the tube back
to the kidney.”

“I feel like I’ve learned a lot and I’ve come a long way defensively
and offensively,” Arencibia said. “I’ve just got to keep plugging away
and learning from the big guys. It’s awesome to be around (John) Buck
and (Jose) Molina and (Raul) Chavez, guys that have been around. That’s
the biggest thing. Signing guys like that makes me happy. I get to
learn from those guys.”

 

“Me and Travis talked a lot,” Arencibia said. “It wasn’t even family.
Snider went through his struggles last year and I went through my
struggles and we have that friendship where we can kind of talk to each
other. Last year I was just trying to press instead of just going out
there and having fun and realizing that I could go out there and be me.”

“Last year, I learned a lot trying to put pressure on myself,”
Arencibia said. “All I can do is be myself. I feel like when I’m the
player I can be that I’m a guy that can play every day in the majors.”

Scott Richmond:

“It’s the same thing I had last year,” Richmond said. “It never really
healed completely. There’s no pain or anything, but it’s still really
stiff.”

Adam Lind:

“He was good,” Lind said about Jenkins. “He can get people out in the big leagues.”

Aaron Hill:

“Tell me when that bowling ball is coming in. Man, that was a nice pitch,” Hill said about Jenkins.

“Take a picture of Johnny Mac hitting grounders! The fans will love him even more!”

“That’s the skipper’s job. He’s got to see what we have coming out of
camp,” Hill said. “We’re just here to hit and when the lineup’s posted,
we’ll just go where we’re at.”

Randy Ruiz:

“I’m a rookie in the game and he (Alex Gonzalez) has been around a long time,” Ruiz
said Saturday. “It’s a respect issue. I’ve been in the minor leagues
all my life and I’ve had about a thousand numbers. I don’t think a
number is going to make any difference.”

“My dad loves it,” Ruiz said. “He loved the idea that I’m No. 21
because he was a big Roberto Clemente fan. So we’ll see if some of it
will rub off on me.”

“I’ll do whatever they need me to do,” said Ruiz.

“I’ll come off the bench, play first base, DH, left field, I don’t
care. I just want to be there and when they call me I have to be ready.”

“When you’re coming out of the game at 10 o’clock, and then you start
eating and you go straight to sleep, that’s what kills you,” he said.
“I’m trying to prolong my career. I feel like I’ve got another 10 years
in me.”

“I go out there not to put pressure on myself,” he said. “They make
the decisions. If it happens, it happens. If not I’ll go to the minor
leagues and do what I do best and force these guys to bring me up.

“I feel like I belong here. It’s taken a long time. I’m enjoying it
because I waited so long. Now I have an opportunity, I’m going to do
what I can not to let it go.”

“I put no pressure on myself,” Ruiz said Saturday. “I would love to be up
there with the club but right now I’m just going to have fun and try to do what
I can do.”

 

“Everywhere I’ve been I’ve done well but it was a matter of being in the
wrong place at the wrong time,” Ruiz said. “I was behind (Cincinnati’s) Ben
Broussard
at one point when he was a big prospect. I was behind (Philadelphia’s)
Ryan Howard. When I was with the Yankees they had Jason Giambi.
“These guys are superstars making multimillion dollars,” he added. “All
you can do is sit and wait and not worry about what happens up there.”

“I was a free agent every year, and when I didn’t get promoted to the next
level I felt like I had to try somewhere else,” he said. “But I learned that
it’s always good to stay in one organization because they know who you are, they
know what kind of person you are, know what kind of player.”

“I like playing the field. I feel like I’m into the game that way,” Ruiz
said of his preference for first base. “But if it’s DH or (as a pinch-hitter)
off the bench, that’s just as good. Right now I’m just happy to have a uniform
on.”

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