DUNEDIN, Fla. -- First base prospect Mike McDade appears set to begin the year in Triple-A Las Vegas, which could lead to some tough decisions for his coaching staff.
McDade spent 2011 in Double-A New Hampshire but following a successful season he's in line for a promotion. The only problem with that is last year's batting champion of the Pacific Coast League, David Cooper, is already at that position in Triple-A.
In many ways it's a good problem to have and Blue Jays assistant general manager Tony LaCava said both players will receive plenty of playing time.
"They're both ready for the level," LaCava said. "Obviously Coop had a great year there and now Mike has proven that he deserves to go there. So, we have the DH spot as well so we'll mix and match a little bit and we'll try to develop both of them defensively.
"But the biggest thing is that they're going to get the at-bats that they need at that level. So, they're going to be at the Triple-A level getting those at-bats."
Cooper made his Major League debut in 2011 but managed to hit just .211 with two home runs and 12 RBIs in 71 at-bats. In Las Vegas, the results were much better as he led the league with a .364 average while posting nine home runs and 96 RBIs. His path to the Major Leagues is currently blocked by Adam Lind.
McDade posted 16 homers and 74 RBIs in 125 games for the Eastern League champions Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
Lawrie exits game with groin injury
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie left Friday afternoon's game against the Rays after the third inning because of tightness in his left groin.
Lawrie suffered the injury while rounding third base on an RBI single by J.P. Arencibia in the second inning. It is not believed to be serious and he is currently listed as day-to-day.
"I just took myself out of the game, which I think is the right thing to do," Lawrie said. "We're almost to the season and we're not in the World Series right now, so it's just time to get it better.
"I've had leg injuries in the past and it's tough to play. You don't help yourself and you don't help your teammates by playing when you're hurt. So it was just the best thing to get out of there and get it back to normal ... It's just a light strain, it's not pulled or anything."
Lawrie singled off right-hander Jeff Niemann during his only at-bat of the day and played three innings in the field.
The 22-year-old Lawrie entered the game with the American League lead in multiple categories this spring including hits (13), doubles (six), and stolen bases (four). He also leads all Blue Jays with a .609 average (14-for-23).
Three hurlers optioned to Minor League camp
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays optioned a trio of pitchers -- Chad Jenkins, Joel Carreno and Evan Crawford -- to Minor League camp on Friday, in the latest series of cuts by the club.
All three pitchers had been considered long shots to make the club, but could become a factor at some point this season if anyone goes down with an injury.
Carreno made his debut in 2011 and allowed just two runs in 15 2/3 innings of the bullpen. He spent the vast majority of last season in Double-A and posted a 7-9 record with a 3.41 ERA while striking out 152 in 134 innings.
The 25-year-old Carreno could be in line to make the jump to Triple-A Las Vegas this season but regardless of where he ends up he will spend his time in the Minors as a starter. He also could become a candidate for a spot start in the Majors but, at this point, projects more as a reliever because of Toronto's depth at starting pitching.
"He's been getting two innings here but as guys that are projected for the starting rotation are starting to get into four and five innings of work those innings for him are starting to dry up somewhat," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "We do want to lengthen him up as a starter and that's what [he will] go down and do."
Crawford turned some heads early in camp with several impressive outings in Spring Training. He pitched four scoreless innings while allowing just one hit and one walk with three strikeouts. He faced an uphill battle to make the team because left-hander Luis Perez is out of options on his contract and was coming off an impressive 2011 campaign.
Jenkins was optioned following three scoreless innings of work against the Rays. He allowed just one run in eight frames this spring while striking out eight and is expected to begin the season in Double-A New Hampshire.
"Jenkins is progressing just like we hoped he would," Blue Jays assistant general manager Tony Lacava said earlier this week. "He's got that quality sinker, slider's getting better, he's working on getting a longer stride and he's making the most of his opportunity ... He's opening eyes."
The Blue Jays now have 46 players remaining in camp.
Santos continues work on changeup
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Closer Sergio Santos has appeared in just two Grapefruit League games this spring but the Blue Jays say there is no cause for concern.
Santos isn't injured and his lack of work in games is actually by design, as the club gets him to throw side sessions in an effort to continue developing his changeup.
"We've worked in some bullpens on the side, particularly with his changeup, getting some added work with that," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "He came into camp in such good shape and was throwing the ball with almost mid-season intensity -- and physically was in great shape -- and we felt like there was the opportunity to slow him down a little bit and spend some quality time working on his changeup."
Santos was acquired from the White Sox in an offseason trade for pitching prospect Nestor Molina. Santos posted a 3.55 ERA while recording 30 saves in 36 opportunities for the White Sox in 2011.