Today I attended a spring training match-up between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays at the Blue Jays home ballpark – Florida Auto Exchange Stadium – in Dunedin, Florida. Here are some observations from today’s game with one major caveat: it’s early in the spring and players are still trying to get their timing and swings right.
- Mark Buehrle had the start for the Blue Jays and his fastball was topping out at 83mph for his three innings of work. Although this is not out of the ordinary for the soft-tossing Buehrle, there wasn’t a lot of difference in velocity between Buerhle’s fastball and his notorious change-up. While his fastball was 82-83, his change-up was 78-79, which is not ideal. Yet with the amount of movement and sink on the change-up, the velocity differential is a moot point.
- Hot-shot Jays prospect Marcus Stroman came on in relief of Buehrle and impressed in spite of having limited command of his fastball. He left a few pitches up and his fastball caught too much of the plate at times, however, his slider was extremely effective and looks to be a legitimate out-pitch at the big league level.
- I mentioned in my last post that Melky is moving as well as he ever has. In fact, he might be moving even better than he ever has. Check out his hustle down the line:
- Chad the beer guy was virtually unrecognizable. He’s slimmed down, grown out his hair and has a little beard. He still has the 1-for-1 beer special, though.
- If Tampa comes to town and Alex Cobb is scheduled to start, think about skipping it. He is excruciatingly slow and mind-numblingly painful to watch pitch.
- There’s lots of talk about Brett Lawrie having “calmed down his swing” and “eliminating his bat waggle.” Although I see it, there’s still a lot of wagglin’ going on and probably way too many moving parts. I’d look for Seitzer (Kevin, Blue Jays hitting coach) to work with Lawrie on streamlining it even further this season.
- Anthony Gose looked bad at the plate and in the field. I don’t like him. But it’s nothing personal.
- Ricky Romero came on in relief and was quite shaky early on when facing Rays’ minor leaguer Jeremy Moore. His first pitch was in the dirt but he shook it off and began to command the strike zone. He came back to strike out Moore:
- Romero built on the Moore at-bat to strike out 3B prospect Richie Shaffer on three straight pitches. Note the fist pump at the end:
- Although it’s spring training, early, and Romero faced only minor league level competition, this is definitely something for Ricky to build on. Although he struggled with command early, he kept his pitches down in the zone which is ideal. As well, his fastball was topping out at 93mph and I don’t believe the stadium gun was hot. His curveball was also sharp and Romero threw it for strikes consistently. The only thing that concerned me from this outing, to be honest, was the inconsistency in Romero’s arm angles from pitch to pitch. When he threw strikes he was in one slot and when he didn’t it was because he overthrew the ball or lowered his slot too much. He mostly threw strikes so I am not going to complain at this point. Well done, Ricky. Certainly not an embarrassment.
- Today’s game was a sellout with 5,529 fans in attendance.
All images © Callum Hughson / mopupduty.com