|The Toronto Blue Jays are hoping Scott Podsednik will add depth to their roster. (REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)
DUNEDIN — The addition of Scott Podsednik into the spring training mix has muddied the waters of what seemed, up until Thursday evening, a clear Blue Jay outfield plan.
Until Podsednik signed a minor-league deal that will pay him $1 million US if he makes the roster, it was generally accepted that Travis Snider would play left, Rajai Davis would play centre and Juan Rivera would play right with Corey Patterson as a capable fourth.
While he’s adamant that Snider is going to be left alone for the sake of a sense of consistency, manager John Farrell is clearly excited about the possibilities that the speedy Podsednik presents.
“The addition of Rajai, and now Scott Podsednik, gives us a little bit more athleticism and I think it’s in line with the adjustment to an overall offensive approach that we’re trying to incorporate,” Farrell said. “And that’s the ability to take the extra base and the ability to put some pressure on the defence with the stolen base.”
Podsednik, 34, is a career .279 hitter with a .340 OBP, .381 slugging percentage and a .721 OPS. Over the past two seasons, he has batted an even .300 with 13 homers and 99 RBI, 138 runs, 79 walks, 65 stolen bases and an OPS of .745.
At the end of last season, he walked away from a $2-million option, perhaps expecting to get a multi-year offer. Over the course of the off-season, he slipped between the cracks.
“There was talk about teams having interest in him but to have this type of player available this late in the spring, we look at it as a great opportunity for us,” Farrell said.
Podsednik will need to win a roster spot in spring training but if he performs as expected, he could end up with a regular job, perhaps in a platoon situation, maybe even as a DH in certain circumstances.
“It gives us the ability to run a lineup out against a certain type of pitcher, maybe one who gives us trouble, and gives us a chance to create and manufacture some runs differently,” Farrell said.
The team could break camp with five outfielders, including both Podsednik and Patterson. Podsednik is more an offensive player while Patterson is a top-flight defender.
“We can strongly consider (five outfielders) right now,” Farrell said. That’s where the versatility of Edwin (Encarnacion) and of John McDonald start to factor when you look at the composition of the roster.
The Jays expect to break camp with 12 pitchers and 13 position players. If five of the position players are outfielders, you then have two catchers, a DH and five infielders, including utility man John McDonald.
“That’s where the versatility of Edwin (Encarnacion) and the versatility of McDonald really start to factor in,” Farrel said.
Encarnacion is expected to be Adam Lind’s right-handed hitting foil at first base, as well as the regular DH and perhaps give Jose Bautista the odd day off at third base. McDonald could back up second base, short and even third base.