DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays remain cautiously optimistic that Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association will announce in the very near future that an extra Wild Card team will be added to each league this season.
Talks between the two sides were ongoing, but no immediate announcement was planned as of Thursday afternoon. That could change soon, as a deal needs to get done in order to finalize the 2012 postseason schedule.
"If we were to include it, it's something that's definitely going to help teams like ours being on the bubble, and potentially, with this division being as strong as it is, we could be in third place with a better record than the winner of another division," Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista said. "That certainly could be a possibility. I don't know if it's ever happened, and [the extra wild card] gives a team like ours, with the possibility of being in that position, a way to sneak through.
"It definitely increases everybody's chances, but we feel better about it because it is going to be a better chance."
Initial plans indicate that the two Wild Card teams would play a one-game playoff to see which team advances through to the American League Division Series.
That would provide an extra incentive for teams to win the division outright to avoid playing in a single-elimination game. But it's also an element that is mostly overlooked by the Blue Jays, who appear more than happy about the latest development and just want to experience the postseason for the first time since 1993.
"I think first step first, get in and then anything can happen," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Some people might say, well it's a one-game playoff, but I think anybody will sign up right now to play one extra game rather than go home.
"You're talking about increased opportunity, so I think that genuine feeling might be around every clubhouse for teams that have been on the outside looking in, particularly in late September and October."
A quick look at the history books indicates the extra Wild Card wouldn't have resulted in much of a difference for the Blue Jays in recent seasons, but could have gotten the club into the postseason in 1998. That year, Tim Johnson's squad posted 88 wins, but finished four games back of the Red Sox for the only Wild Card.
The Blue Jays would have fallen three games short of the White Sox for the second Wild Card in 2006 and by three games to the Yankees in 2008.
"I think it's great for baseball and hopefully it comes to play this year," Farrell said. "I just think any time you increase opportunity and potential late in the season, it's going to keep the divisional races and league races deep into the [weeks] of September. Hopefully, we're in the mix to land one of those five spots."
Francona visits Blue Jays camp
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Toronto manager John Farrell's former mentor paid a visit to the Blue Jays' Spring Training facility on Thursday morning.
Terry Francona, who worked with Farrell in Boston from 2007-10, was part of the ESPN crew that broadcast from Dunedin, Fla. That gave an opportunity for the two to catch up and share stories from their time with the Red Sox.
"It's always good to see him," said Farrell, who was the pitching coach in Boston before joining Toronto. "Good chance to catch up. Seems like he's thoroughly enjoying what he's doing.
"Most importantly, it's good to see him not only be around the game, but involved in it. He's always had a great outlook, always [able to] make a light situation even lighter."
Farrell said he learned a lot from Francona during their time together in Boston and that he has incorporated some of that knowledge into his work with the Blue Jays.
"The one thing that was very apparent was his willingness to stay with people, even when things might not have been going their way on the field," Farrell said. "I'd like to think back in [my] first year that there probably could've been a little bit more of that on my part.
"But seeing the way he dealt with 25 individuals, in all the situations that arose in that city, in that ballpark, in that media surrounding, he's very adept at handling the many different challenges that were thrown his way."
Romero to start Friday intrasquad game
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays will hold an intrasquad game on Friday afternoon at the Bobby Mattick Training Center.
The six-inning game is scheduled for a noon start time and will feature a pitching matchup of ace Ricky Romero versus No. 2 starter Brandon Morrow.
Other pitchers scheduled to make an appearance are Jason Frasor, Rick VandenHurk, Robert Coello, Chad Jenkins, Drew Hutchison, Evan Crawford, Deck McGuire and Nelson Figueroa.
The game will be open to the public and is being used to help prepare the team for its first Grapefruit League contest on Saturday afternoon against the Pirates.