Blue Jays open spring with questions but upside on pitching staff
DUNEDIN, Fla. – Radar guns aren’t necessary on the first day of spring training. They aren’t even wanted, really — not when pitchers and catchers are still reintroducing themselves after a winter apart.
This time of year it’s all about the eye test, and by that measure Russell Martin liked what he saw from Aaron Sanchez Wednesday morning as pitchers and catchers completed their first official workout of the spring.
“That’s, like, backdoor,” Martin remarked to Sanchez after catching a particularly sharp curve. “Nasty, dude. That’s perfect.”
Blister and finger issues led to four stints on the disabled list for Sanchez a year ago. As a result, the Blue Jays won’t know what to expect from the 25-year-old until he tests his finger repeatedly in games. But for Day 1 of spring training, he’s where he should be.
“It’s coming out free and easy. A lot of life to it, good movement,” Martin said afterwards. “All of his pitches, they look the same coming out (of the hand). That’s the key as a pitcher — the art of deception. Everything has to look the same.”
Continued progress from Sanchez would go a long way toward making this spring a success for the Blue Jays. So would progress from Devon Travis, whose workload could be lightened this spring as he recovers from knee surgery, and Troy Tulowitzki, who’s expected to arrive at full strength despite having had a bone spur removed from his heel.
Alongside those health-related questions, the Blue Jays will spend considerable energy setting up their pitching staff this spring. There’s cautious optimism around Sanchez, and once again Joe Biagini’s status is in flux.
For now, Biagini’s penciled in as the fifth starter behind Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ and Marco Estrada. That could change if …read more