Shortstop Adieny Hechavarria, signed to a four-year $10 million US deal this week, has been compared to former Alfredo Griffin among others.
How much did Griffin, former Blue Jays fixture at short, and Los Angeles Angels first base coach, get?
“A lot less than $10 million,” laughed Griffin, signed by Cleveland Indians scout Reggie Otero in 1973 for $2,500.
“Epy Guerrero (Jays Latin American scout) missed me, said I’d wouldn’t hit because I was too skinny,” said Griffin, who had 1,688 hits.
Best shortstop the former Gold Glove winner saw?
“Mark Belanger,” Griffin said. “He told me he never wore a protective cup. He always got down so low his elbow served as protection.”
Belanger won eight Gold Gloves for the Baltimore Orioles and was part of the 1980 World Series winner.
Future DP combo?
Aaron Hill flew to Tampa on Saturday where he will continue treatment for his pulled right hamstring with hopes of being activated Friday when the Jays play the Tampa Bay Rays.
Anything else he’s looking forward to in Florida?
“Taking infield with Hechavarria,” Hill said. “Alex Anthopoulos told me a lot about him. I have a couple of Spanish phrases to try on him.”
On the road
Ever heard players moan about a three-city, 10-day trip, or worse?
Respected, hard-working ball scribe Gaku Tashiro of Sankei Sports, arrived in Toronto on Thursday, for Day 1 of a 113-day trip covering Hideki Matsui as he has done since 2003.
“My office will send someone at the end of July, I hope,” he said.
His wife Sachiko and children Rintaro, 10, Johtaro, six and Gukutaro, five, remain at their Paramus, N.J., home, except for a one-month visit home to Japan.
When the Angels played their season opener, 104 members of the Japanese press attended. This weekend, 12 writers, six photographers and 10 TV people are following Matsui.
“I’ve covered Matsui since 1993, his rookie year with the Yomiuri Giants and he has always called me “mister” as a sign of respect because I am older,” said Tashiro, who said fans in Japan were unhappy the New York Yankees did not make a contract offer to keep Matsui and now are rooting for the Angels.
“Matsui appeals to older fans, young fans and kids,” he said the man now known as Red Godzilla. “Ichiro (Suzuki) may be a better player, but he’s not good for the media. Matsui is more popular in Japan. He talks to us before and after every game, shows respects for us, our job and fans. He memorized the first names of all 10 Yankee beat writers.”
Something we like to around this time of year is track the Jays scouts leading into the draft. This year, it’s more important with the Jays having nine picks in the first three rounds.
It’s not a cinch the Jays will wind up with any of these players — 29 other teams are picking — but the Jays will select someone they’ve seen. Who has been where:
GM Anthopoulos, along with five other Jays scouts saw high school right-hander Karsten Whitson of Chipley, Fla., ranked ninth by Perfect Game scouting service heading into the June 7-9 draft.
Scouting director Andrew Tinnish has watched a battle of right-handers: North Carolina’ Matt Harvey (No. 16) versus Georgia Teach’s Deck McGuire; Ole Miss lefty Drew Pomeranz (No. 4) vs. Georgia righty Justin Grimm (No. 36); Kevin Gausman (No. 36) a high school righty from Aurora, Colo., and Auburn first baseman Hunter Morris (No. 28).
Dana Brown, adviser to the GM, was in Miami on Friday to see third baseman Kris Castellanos (No. 35) of Davie, Fla.
Anthopoulos has seen among others: high schoolers Manny Machado (No. 6), a Miami shortstop, John Barbato (No. 193), a Homestead, Fla., right-hander, Yordy Cabrera (No. 21), a shortstop from Lakeland, Fla., and college outfielder Mike Choice (No. 24) of Texas-Arlington.
Been a long time coming
They work long hours, are lauded as the backbone of a organizations and yet scouts are mostly ignored when it comes to recognition by teams or the Hall of Fame.
Tyler Timmina of the Goldklang group, owner of five minor-league teams, is trying to rectify matters. Goldklang extended scouts Hall of Fame honours to Terry Ryan of the Minnesota Twins and ex-Jays scout Dave Yokum of the Chicago White Sox, at Hollman Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla., on March 30.
Ryan rose through the scouting ranks to become the Twins GM and was Paul Godfrey’s first choice to replace Gord Ash in 2002.
Yokum was a minor-league teammate of future major-league managers Cito Gaston, Gene Lamont, Jim Leyland and Stump Merrill and also was the Jays’ advance scout from 1981-91 for Pat Gillick.
Before that, he worked with the Astros (1971-72) the Yankees (1974-74) and after leaving the Jays, the Chisox for 19 seasons.
“And the great thing is, I’m still only 30,” Yokum said.
A year ago, Jays scouts Bob Fontaine and Tom Burns were honoured.
I'll never forget when...
Manager, Los Angeles Angels
(Won the 1981 and 1988 World Series catching for the Dodgers, managed the Angels to 2002 Series win)
“All-star break 2001, I was helping coach my son Matthew’s Little League team, the Conejo Oaks of Thousand Oaks (Calif.).
We had a good workout the day before and went to a tournament in Port Hueneme. Matthew comes up last inning, game tied and pulls the second pitch over the left-field fence to win the game and advance the team into the regional.”
Matt Scioscia is now hitting .256 for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish with two doubles and 11 RBIs in 20 games.
Bobby Mattick’s captive audience
Paul Ricciarini, veteran Houston Astros scout, formerly of the Blue Jays, was at Monday’s home opener. He and Pittsburgh Pirates scout Jax Robertson waited for the Rogers Centre crowd to thin out.
Heading for the exit, walking and talking, Ricciarini told of how important a role the late Bobby Mattick played in the development of the young Jays outfield of George Bell, Lloyd Moseby and Jesse Barfield, who blossomed under manager Bobby Cox as the Jays won the East in 1985.
“Ever meet Bobby?” Ricciarini asked Roberston, who answered: “Only by reputation.”
Ricciarini began telling Mattick stories: “We got walked around the stadium and missed our exit ... twice.”
Mattick, who passed away in 2004, is still captivating.
Lefty James Paxton of Ladner, B.C., remains the top-rated Canadian heading into the June draft of collegians and high schoolers.
Paxton, who left Kentucky, will not pitch until Grand Prairie begins its American Association independent league season.
Catcher Kellin Deglan of Langley, B.C. and the Canadian national junior team will be next, among the first 60 players selected in a year which has few standouts at such a premier position.
North York outfielder Marcus Knecht of the No. 1-ranked Connors State Cowboys may be a second-rounder.
“Scouts saw Deglan last fall in Florida and this spring in Arizona,” said one scouting director. “Not every cross- checker has been to Warner, Okla., to see Knecht, but they’re headed there now.”
Knecht grades out to a 70 power (on a scale of 80), is an above average runner, could play centre and has an average arm. He’s hitting .467, with 18 doubles, 15 homers and 55 RBIs in 40 games.
Port Dover, Ont.
Pitching at triple-A Nashville (Brewers), the reliever had the best week of the 52 Canadians in the minors. Axford worked 3.1 scoreless innings picking up two saves and a win against Iowa. He walked two and fanned four.
Ottawa’s T.J. Burton (Astros) 2-0, 1.50 ERA at double-A Corpus Christi; Taylor Green of Comox, B.C. (Brewers) hit .409, with nine RBIs at double-A Huntsville; Chris Dennis of Amherstburg, Ont. (Brewers) .409, two homers, seven RBIs, class-A Wisconsin; Michael Gosse of Pitt Meadows, B.C. (Tigers) .409, two RBIs, class-A Western Michigan and Jamie Romak of London, Ont. (Royals) .333, with eight RBIs, class-A Wilmington.
Brewers lead the way with 10 Canucks followed by the Tigers, Pirates and Jays with four each.