DUNEDIN, FLA. - During the off-season, the goal for Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulous was to add a starter.
Either a No. 2 or a No. 3.
Anthopoulos wasn’t MIA (Missing In Action), but MFC (Missing From Camp) Sunday as the Jays hosted the Braves, one day after he drove six miles south to see Joe Blanton pitch for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro has told executives from other teams he would pay $2 million on Blanton’s $8.5-million contract for this season.
And the Phillies like Travis Snider and have a need in left field.
Where would Blanton fit amongst a list of starters that includes Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Henderson Alvarez, Dustin McGowan, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison?
“I’ve seen him this spring and Blanton is a comfortable back-end guy. If healthy, I’d put him behind Cecil,” said one veteran American League scout who covers the Phillies. The right-hander pitched only 411/3 innings in 2011 because of an elbow injury.
“Blanton gives up runs, but he usually keeps you in the game. He’s a strike-thrower and I’ll say this: He rubs off on young kids real well,” said the scout. “Who knows with Alex? He may be trying to acquire him to spin him off in another deal. The one thing I would not do if I’m Alex was not move any of his young prospects for Joe Blanton.”
Blanton, 31, won 12 games for the 2009 Phillies, their World Series-winning year.
“Blanton fits better for a contending team, like the Detroit Tigers,” said another scout.
We then asked another baseball man who would be a good comparison to the 6-foot-3, 245-pound Blanton.
“Joey Hamilton,” he said.
Hamilton was acquired in 1998 and given a three-year $17-million extension.
The next spring, Shawn Green nicknamed Hamilton ‘Brewster’ after the character in the Brewster’s Millions movie, starring Richard Pryor and John Candy, about the minor-leaguer who has to waste $30 million in 30 days in order to inherit $300 million.
And as for Sunday, Anthopoulos made the drive to see the other half of the Jays split squad play the other half of the Braves in a split-squad game at Lake Buena Vista.
Drabek had a 10-pitch first with two strikeouts (Martin Prado and Chipper Jones) while Jeff Mathis homered.
Then the rains came, cancelling the game.
It took a year, but Fred McGriff, first base coach with the Braves, finally got to talk to Adam Lind between innings on Sunday.
When the former Blue Jay was with the Tampa Bay Rays last spring, he told Jays outfielder Corey Patterson to tell Lind to phone him, as he had a defensive tip to make. Lind never called.
“I’m going to phone a guy with 493 homers and say: ‘Hey, it’s Adam Lind?’” the Jays first baseman said.
Once a Brave reached against Ricky Romero, McGriff told Lind how to get farther off the bag and into a better fielding position with a man on first.
“Fred said I should be move my left foot first, instead of my right and shuffle off,” said an appreciative Lind.
“I saw a difference. I tinkered with it. It made a difference.”
Lind explained that when reliever Chad Jenkins took over, he had to be on the move quicker as Jenkins was quicker to the plate than Romero.
Lind was asked if anyone had ever told him that before.
“Infield coaches for middle infielders,” Lind said. “Who is the last person to get a ground ball during infield?”
Lawrie all day
Third baseman Brett Lawrie was 3-for-3, including his fifth double of the spring, which knocked in a run.
“Does he have a chance ... a chance to make the team?” some wise-acre reporter asked manager John Farrell.
“I thought you were going to ask if he had a chance to become prime minister,” joked Farrell.
“He took an 0-2 pitch, down and away, and fouled the ball off, then hit a mistake for a single to left (off Todd Redmond) and he goes the other way off Jairo Asencio, a tough reliever, and hits the ball off the fence for a double.”
Hall of Fame bound
Jays broadcaster Buck Martinez is headed for the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Hall of Fame in July at the all-star game in Kansas City. Will Martinez be recognized for blocking balls in the dirt, managing, or broadcasting?
“I think it’s for everything but not speaking Spanish,” said Martinez jokingly.
Romero worked three innings striking out four (Jason Heyward, Dan Uggla, Matt Diaz and minor-leaguer Matt Parraz) ... Jenkins pitched three innings allowing two hits and a run as he fanned four (Brian McCann, Diaz and minor-leaguers Joe Terdoslavich and Parraz), earning compliments from Farrell on the depth of his slider ... Jason Frasor was touched for three runs on four hits and a walk, although he didn’t get a lot of help from his fielders.
CANUCKS TOPPLE CANUCKS
ST. PETERSBURG — Using six Canadian pitchers, the Philadelphia Phillies minor leaguers defeated the Canadian junior team 17-12 at Al Lang Field on Sunday.
Ethan Stewart of Campbell River, B.C., Montreal’s Jesen Dygestile-Therrien, Edmonton’s Steven Inch, Tecumseh’s Rob Cooper, Colin Kleven of Kamloops, B.C., and Jay Johnson of Sussex Corner, N.B., pitched for the Phillies.
Milton’s Nathan DeSouza hit a two-run double and Oakville’s Kyle Hann hit a three-run triple to left-centre giving the Canucks a 6-2 lead.
The Blue Jays face the Canadians juniors Tuesday.