March 6, 2012
Tough outing for ex-Jay
By KEN FIDLIN, QMI Agency
DUNEDIN, FLA. - Nestor Molina had ‘one of those days’ in his spring debut with the White Sox Monday.
Molina, coming off an impressive season at double A for the Blue Jays in 2011, was traded to Chicago in exchange for closer Sergio Santos in December.
Monday in his first big-league appearance, spring or otherwise, he gave up five runs on seven hits in 1 1/3 innings against the Los Angeles Dodgers. All the runs came in his second inning of work when the Dodgers hit for the cycle.
After James Loney was thrown out at the plate to end the scoreless fifth inning, Dodgers’ Tony Gwynn Jr. singled to lead off the sixth. Justin Sellers doubled, Ivan DeJesus tripled and Scott Van Slyke belted a long home run.
“Some guys can struggle early,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “Still, I like his competitiveness and what he has when he goes out. He has a presence on the mound. He has good stuff, there’s no doubt about it. It’s one of those days, is how I look at it. First day, he’s trying to impress but (he showed) good stuff. He’s going to get more chances.”
BACK TO THE FUTURE
For years, advance scouting was the only way a team could keep up with what was happening with their next opponent’s lineup or pitching. Advance scouts can pick up on all manner of nuances that might help a team’s pitchers and hitters better attack their opponents.
In the digital age, many teams, including the Blue Jays, have gone away from employing an advance scout, choosing to break down and generate video as a means of preparation.
This season, the Jays are going back to the future. They have hired former catcher Kevin Cash as their advance scout and his work will dovetail with the video work being generated by Brian Butterfield and Bruce Walton.
“We felt the need to have someone out ahead of us to complement the information that is generated internally,” said manager John Farrell. “With (Cash’s) experience, the position he played, reading hitters’ swings and understanding pitchers, we felt like he was a very good candidate to fill the role.”
One of the reasons for the Blue Jays increasing their advance scouting capabilities is to try to improve their interleague record, which has been one of the worst in the American League in recent years.
Farrell estimates it’s about 50-50 between teams that have advance scouts and teams that don’t.
“There are different approaches,” he said. “We just feel we’ll have a better read with a very recent and real first-hand look.”
‘EVERYTHING IS GOOD’
Dustin McGowan came through a 25-pitch simulated game Tuesday without incident and is set to make his Grapefruit League debut on Saturday with a start against the Houston Astros.
While McGowan has maintained full health all spring with no ill-effects as he prepared to compete for a rotation spot with the Blue Jays, the team took care to give him some extra time to build toward joining the five-day program in effect for the other starters.
McGowan will now step into that program.
“Everything is good,” he said. “I’m ready to go.”
In that same game Saturday, reliever Carlos Villanueva will make his first game appearance after recovering from a circulation problem in his pitching hand.
NOT SO FAST
In the rush to anoint Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison as the only pitchers outside the top five who are being studied closely to be part of the Blue Jay starting rotation, both Chad Jenkins and Deck McGuire have been overshadowed.
Not, however, in the minds of the Blue Jay talent evaluators. McGuire, who will pitch two innings Wednesday behind Drabek and Hutchison in a split-squad game in Bradenton against the Pirates, and Jenkins who worked two impressive scoreless innings against the Phils Tuesday, are very much in the team’s plans.
“Jenkins is one of those guys you see a year later after his spring training debut and you see the physical maturity, the mental maturity and how he attacked the strike zone today,” Farrell said.
“In our internal conversations, we envision (Jenkins and McGuire) factoring in at some point in the second half of this year, if not before, depending on need.”
Jenkins was a first-round draft choice in 2009 and McGuire was Toronto’s top pick in 2010. Both are probably going back to double-A New Hampshire at least to start the 2012 season.
JAYS VS PHILLIES
(Tuesday at Dunedin)
Phillies 7, Blue Jays 0
Ricky Romero, Chad Jenkins and Luis Perez two scoreless innings each
Brett Lawrie 2-for-3, batting .556
Kelly Johnson 2-for-3 including a triple
Travis Snider 0-for-3, 3 K’s, 3 LOB