KISSIMMEE, FLA. - There was a time when the Blue Jays had too many similar square pegs and not enough holes.
Like in 2006 when manager John Gibbons was asked to squeeze Lyle Overbay, Troy Glaus, Shea Hillenbrand and Eric Hinske into the first base, third base and DH roles.
The day is not far off when they will have too many round pegs to fit into the holes at short, third and maybe second.
Shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria is gone from the big-league camp to triple-A Las Vegas, but not forgotten. Hechavarria backed up the prospect charts a year ago due to his light bat, but he made an impression this spring.
“He reminds me of Tony Fernandez watching his line drives,” Chris Woodward, the other half of the double play combination with Hechavarria last year at Vegas, said on Thursday.
The day before Omar Vizquel, in his 24th season, made the same Hechavarria/Fernandez comparison.
“He’ll be back soon,” Vizquel said after Hechavarria was sent out. “One year, maybe two.”
The Jays, of course, signed Yunel Escobar last year to a two-year deal.
“They’ll have to trade someone,” Vizquel predicted.
A year ago when with the Chicago White Sox Vizquel told me Escobar was so big — listed at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds — he was headed to third base.
And now that he lockers a handful of stalls from Escobar?
“He will have the tendency to be a third baseman,” Vizquel said. “He’s what, 28 year old? He may be able to move like this for a few years, but what happens when he gets to 32, 33?”
Privately the Jays complain about Escobar missing signs. They say it would be easier for him to make the transition to third rather than second. Yet all-Canadian, all-world third baseman Brett Lawrie is not going anywhere.
Escobar could be the one to be moved come decision time. And his contract at $5 million US per year would be attractive to most clubs.
Hechevarria hit .235 in 111 games at double-A New Hampshire to begin last season.
“I’m watching him in the cage and don’t understand, he doesn’t swing like a .235 hitter,” Woodward said. “We hadn’t played anywhere that wasn’t real warm. We get to Nashville. He gets three hits almost every game. Everything up the middle. We go to Memphis. Same thing.
Hechevarria batted .389 in his 25 games at the higher level.
“Las Vegas inflates the numbers on home run hitters, not on line drive hitters,” said Woodward. “He has a lot to learn, one night he’s playing a right-handed pull hitter up the middle.
“But’s he’s a student. He’s learning. He’s studying English. We were able to communicate. If I needed help Jon Diaz was there to translate.”
DOUBLE GMs: Leafs general manager Brian Burke sat with Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos during Thursday’s 6-3 win over the Houston Astros. The Jays GM headed for Tampa after six innings to watch the Leafs play Lightening.
GO-GO JAYS: Rajai Davis singled to open to the game. So, the script would call for Davis to attempt to steal second. He did, but No. 2 hitter Travis Snider fouled off the pitch ... Eric Thames stole second in the first but attempted to go to third on a ground ball to short and was thrown out easily ... So a mistake each for the left fielders on the bases ... Thames had two hits and knocked in a run, while Snider doubled and drove in two.
DIRT FROM DIRK: Former 20-game winner, Astros manager and broadcaster Larry Dierker had this one from 1986 when the Astros clinched the right to play the New York Mets in the National League Championship Series. “I’ve been in the game a long time, but that 1986 team was the most colourful cast of characters I’ve seen,” Dierker said. “An hour after Larry Andersen, Dave Smith and Charlie Kerfeld show up in cone heads. Even our coaches were colourful. (Coach) Yogi Berra looks at them and says “aren’t you three a pair.’”
GAME ON: Jake Marisnick hot a solo homer in the ninth. Marisnick was wearing No. 32. “A lot better than what I had earlier in camp ... No. 88.” ... Mike McCoy, Ryan Goins, Thames and Snider each doubled ... Anthony Gose and Thames each had two hits ... Relievers Jesse Chavez and Jerry Gill each had a scoreless outing for the Jays ... Clint Everts allowed a run in the ninth ... Travis d’Arnaud had a throwing error on an attempted pick-off play at first and threw out Brian Bixler attempting to steal ... Jays were 2-for-13 hitting with men in scoring position, stranding eight.
BIG NAMES IN CAMP: Hall of famer Robbie Alomar and former American League MVP George Bell, the only Blue Jay to win an MVP, are at the Bobby Mattick Facility helping instruct the youngsters.
LONG WALK: Christopher Tunstall, great-grandson of Joseph J. Lannin, the former owner of the Boston Red Sox who signed Babe Ruth, is embarking on a 410-mile walking and hiking expedition from Lac Beauport, Que., to Boston April 27-May 21 (lanninproject.com/lanninwalk/vip).
JAYS 6, ASTROS 3
* Dustin McGowan allows 1 unearned run in 3 IPs, 3 Ks.
* Kyle Drabek allowed 1 unearned run in 3 IPs, 1 K
* Travis Snider doubles, 2 RBIs, .296
* Eric Thames, Anthony Gose, Jon Diaz 2 hits each
* Rajai Davis single, SB