Notes: Stairs excited for 15th season
Veteran looking forward to playing for a competitive club
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Matt Stairs knew coming into camp that he had "pretty much made the team."
But the veteran, who will be making his 15th appearance on an Opening Day roster when the Blue Jays face the Tigers on Monday in Detroit, admitted that how nice it was hearing the news from manager John Gibbons.
"I pretty much knew I was going to be here when I signed," said Stairs, who spent last season with the Royals, Rangers and Tigers. "But it's a nice feeling to be a part of this team. There's a nice mixture of younger players and older players, which makes it different for me. I could just concentrate on taking care of business from a personal side as opposed to last year, when I had to be almost like a coach."
Stairs, 39, who played for the Royals from 2002-06, had an impressive spring, batting .367 with five RBIs in 15 games. During his stint with the Royals, he spent a good part of his time, especially in Spring Training, counseling younger players on the nuances of Major League baseball.
"This year was a lot easier to work on my own swing," said Stairs. "It's not a knock on other teams, but it was nice to come in here knowing that I didn't have to worry about working with a lot of other guys and I could concentrate on improving myself."
Stairs sees a lot of promise with what the Blue Jays have to offer and says the pieces are in place for the team to succeed.
"We have guys who can hit from one to nine, and we hit the ball well," said Stairs. "Everyone's healthy going into the season and we also have some guys who have stepped up in the bullpen to solidify that as well. So it's very promising to know there's all the parts there to be successful.
Stairs, who finished the 2006 season with the Tigers after spending some time with the Rangers, can play both the outfield and first base as well as giving the Jays an extra bat at the designated hitter spot. On Saturday, he had four putouts at first, including a nifty snare in which he dug out a throw in the dirt.
Wrap it up: The Jays finalized their roster with several moves on Saturday. After adding Stairs, Victor Zambrano and Josh Towers to the roster, they designated right-handed reliever Francisco Rosario, 26, for assignment, which means that fellow righty Jeremy Accardo joins the staff. Rosario is out of options, so he would have to clear waivers if Toronto wanted to send him to the Minors.
Left-hander Davis Romero (torn left labrum) and right-hander John Thomson (right shoulder tendinitis were placed on the 15-day disabled list.
Gibbons also announced that 35-year-old catcher Sal Fasano would start the season in the Minors but said that he "is one phone call away" from being recalled.
"He's primarily an insurance because catchers get beat up though the year," said Gibbons.
Closing spring: B.J. Ryan pitched a scoreless ninth inning and said he felt fine afterwards. It was the closer's first appearance in a Grapefruit League game since March 11. Ryan, who had experienced stiffness in his lower back during that outing, said he came away feeling good after Saturday's outing, in which he tossed 16 pitches, 13 strikes.
"It was good to get out there in game before we left," said Ryan. "It worked out well to get an inning under my belt."
Although he didn't allow a run, Ryan still managed to get a good day's work in when he allowed a double after striking out two batters on eight pitches. Working with a man on base, Ryan then induced the last batter he faced into hitting a high bouncer to first, on which the closer had to cover at first to record the final out of the game.
"Yeah that was pretty good," said Ryan. "I had a chance to finish out the spring with a bang."
Coming Up: The Jays travel to Detroit to open their 31st season of play when they play the Tigers in a 1:05 p.m. ET affair on Monday at Comerica Park. Right-hander Roy Halladay (16-5, 3.19 ERA in 2006) makes his club-record fifth Opening Day start, and he will be matched up against Tigers right-hander Jeremy Bonderman (14-8, 4.08 ERA in 2006).
Halladay, who did not face Detroit last year, is 10-2 with a 1.85 ERA lifetime against the Tigers. Bonderman went 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA versus the Blue Jays last year to raise his career numbers against Toronto to 2-1 with a 3.27 ERA.
Chris Girandola is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.