Notebook: Papelbon takes sudden shining to Jays

Shi Davidi and Barry Davis discuss Johan Santana's chance to earn a spot in the Toronto Blue Jays rotation after the two-time AL Cy Young Award winner agreed to a minor-league deal, and who has a shot to fill in for Michael Saunders in the outfield.

DUNEDIN, Fla. – Some short hops from around the diamond as Toronto Blue Jays continue their workouts at spring training:

  • Quickly running out of possible destinations after the Milwaukee Brewers signed Francisco Rodriguez to a two-year deal, Philadelphia Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon is taking a sudden shining to the Blue Jays, who are on his no-trade list. “Yes, Toronto, interests me – if it interests Ruben (Amaro Jr., the GM),” he told Jim Salisbury of “I know some of the guys on their coaching staff. They’re a good team. If Ruben can do a deal with them, I’d be interested.” The chances of such a deal happening is highly unlikely unless the Phillies made the deal close to free for the Blue Jays. Papelbon is due to earn $13 million this season with a vesting option for another $13 million in 2016 that becomes guaranteed if he finishes 48 games this year. There’s no way the Blue Jays consider that.


  • Adam Lind, who caused a furor last summer when he said the MRI that revealed a fracture in his foot was taken at the behest of his mother, took some fresh digs at the Blue Jays in comments made to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “I don’t know if they really tried to find it,” he told the newspaper. Asked for his reaction, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos was dismissive. “I don’t really concern myself either way,” he says. “Adam played very well for us when he was here. He did a great job. I know there were the comments last year, so I think every year there are comments from Adam, whether it’s former managers, players, family, all that kind of stuff. It’s just par for the course.”


  • Johan Santana’s last complete game was his no-hitter June 1, 2012 against the St. Louis Cardinals and catching him that day was Josh Thole, who also handled R.A. Dickey’s Cy Young season that campaign. The trio is now reunited with the Blue Jays.


  • Non-roster invitee Chris Dickerson is one of the players who stands to gain from Michael Saunders’ injury. A strong defender at all three outfield spots, he needs a strong showing with his bat to make the team. His focal points this spring? “Just needing to make more contact,” he says. “In the past, I have great springs but it’s spring and it doesn’t really mean a whole lot. I’m looking forward to getting out there, making more contact. I had a terrible slide last year after the all-star break, I think it was a little bit mental, so I need to get the swing where I can have a little bit more room for error when I start to struggle a little bit.”

    • The Blue Jays are done with the practice field where Saunders suffered his knee injury. “We won’t be using that outfield anymore,” says manager John Gibbons. “We weren’t going to anyways. Pitchers will use it to do some pickoffs and stuff. I’m sure something will take place. That’s not really my department right this second but I guarantee you they’ll take care of it.”


    • An issue for the Blue Jays without Saunders? They’ll probably need more production out of the centre field spot to help compensate for his absence. Part of the thinking on Dalton Pompey or Kevin Pillar in centre is that there was enough offence in the rest of the lineup. “To be honest, we think coming in we’re going to get some good production out of both of those guys, Pompey and Pillar,” says Gibbons. “If they’re on the team, we need them to. Pillar, it’s time to show what he can do in the big leagues, he’s done everything in the minor-leagues. Pompey, he didn’t show us a lot, but we think he’s going to be a good offensive player. If we don’t think he’s going to be ready then he’ll go now. Whether they need to do more, I don’t think that would be fair. You don’t go out telling them, ‘Hey, we need more out of you now.’ I think they’ll both be good enough players if they’re the two guys. Things will work out fine, anyways.”


    • The new pace-of-game initiatives shouldn’t be an issue for Edwin Encarnacion, although he understands why hitters like David Ortiz aren’t too happy. “It’s hard. (For) your timing, sometimes you like to get out of the box and get your mind right, thinking about what you have to do,” he explains. “Now, it’s going to be very difficult for a lot of players. I don’t think everybody is going to be (happy) with that new rule. For me, I don’t think (it will be a problem). I need to start figuring it out. I’m going to keep doing what I do. They give a warning the first time, after that I’m going to try to figure it out. I’m going to do the same (things) I’ve been doing the last three years, because it’s been working for me. We’ll see what happens.”


    • All the different competitions around the Blue Jays make this one of the more busy camps Gibbons has ever run. “It’s probably the most important because we have some decisions that we have to make that we have to get right,” he says. “There are some jobs at stake, the thing about spring training, you try to get as much playing time for all of them that you can. It won’t be judged strictly on statistics, you have to be smarter than that, because spring training can be deceiving. But it’s important, it’s their careers in there and we have to shape the team as best we can, too.”


    • The Blue Jays hold their first full-squad workout Friday, with hitters to take live batting practice the next few days before an intrasquad game Monday. The Pittsburgh Pirates visit Florida Auto Exchange Stadium for the Grapefruit League opener Tuesday.


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