03/27/07 7:38 PM ET
Notes: Ryan says he's at full strength
All-Star closer expects to pitch in Jays' final Grapefruit game
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
"He let it go today," Toronto pitching coach Brad Arnsberg said. "We asked him if he feels game-ready and he said, 'Absolutely.'"
First things first, though. On Thursday, the Blue Jays will have their $47 million stopper make a one-inning appearance in a Double-A game at Toronto's Minor League complex. If that goes well, Ryan will pitch against Cincinnati in Saturday's Grapefruit League finale.
Ryan, who had 38 saves and a 1.37 ERA in 2006, last appeared in a spring game on March 11, when he first felt some soreness in his lower back. The left-hander informed Toronto's medical staff of the injury the following day, and the team temporarily pulled the plug on his throwing schedule.
On Tuesday, in his second bullpen session since hurting his back, Ryan threw 35 pitches and was pain-free. Arnsberg said the left-hander mixed in fastballs and sliders and was throwing at 100 percent.
Ryan will be available for Opening Day, but Arnsberg wishes he could've had the pitcher appear in consecutive games to better gauge his strength. One thing that will help is the fact that Toronto has an off-day on the Tuesday following its first regular-season contest.
"You would like to try to back-to-back him one time, but we're not going to be able to do that," Arnsberg said. "We'll have to protect him a little bit differently early. Then, hopefully, he gets his feet underneath him and we can treat him like we were last year -- hopefully, use him four or five times a week."
Final tune-up: Roy Halladay was finally able to stop working and begin pitching. Toronto's ace started against Triple-A Durham on Tuesday and approached the outing like a regular-season start.
Halladay struck out nine, walked two and gave up four hits over seven shutout innings. The right-hander threw 98 pitches in the start, which was his final outing of the spring. Halladay's next scheduled start will be in Detroit on April 2, when the Jays open the season against the Tigers.
"We worked on a lot of things this spring, but today I just wanted to pitch like I feel I would in a regular game," said Halladay, who plans on limiting the amount of cutters he uses this season. "I felt pretty good, and I was glad I was able to get the pitches where I did. I feel confident going into the start of the year with that pitch count."
Impressed: Halladay admitted that he was one person who was counting Josh Towers out. After Towers went 2-10 with an 8.42 ERA last season, Halladay didn't expect the pitcher to be in the running for a rotation spot during Spring Training.
This spring, though, Towers has worked his way back into the mix for a starting job by going 1-0 with a 3.20 ERA and 18 strikeouts over 19 2/3 innings in his five starts. Halladay said Towers' strong showing has been a pleasant surprise.
"I think we have some pretty good options, especially with Josh coming back," Halladay said. "He was one guy that I really hadn't even considered for that fourth or fifth spot. To have things like that happen is important for us to be in [contention]."
For sight: When Toronto catcher Jason Phillips arrived at Spring Training, he had a new look: no glasses. Phillips underwent laser eye surgery over the offseason, but the procedure didn't turn out to be a success.
Phillips still had no depth perception in his left eye, and that created a blind spot while hitting. He really noticed the problem while trying to track sliders and curveballs that began on the inside portion of the plate. So on Tuesday morning, Phillips headed to the eye doctor and returned to the ballpark sporting his familiar frames.
"You'll see this for a long time," said Phillips, referring to his glasses. "Looking back on it now, I would've never [had the surgery]. I would've just came to camp regular. But this is where I'm at, and I can see better now."
Last men standing: After Tuesday's game against the Devil Rays, Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said that he'll probably be able to announce the Blue Jays' 25-man roster before the weekend.
"Maybe Thursday," Ricciardi said. "It's getting clear in a lot of ways."
Road warriors: The Blue Jays plan on bringing the majority of their regular-season lineup to Winter Haven, Fla., for Wednesday's game against the Indians. Minus designated hitter Frank Thomas, all of Toronto's starting position players are slated to make the road trip.
Roster move: Following Monday's game against the Pirates, the Blue Jays reassigned outfielder Jeff Duncan to Minor League camp. Toronto now has 31 players, including five non-roster invitees, at Spring Training with the big-league club.
Quotable: "I hope so. Knock on wood." --Halladay, joking when asked if he thought he'd make the Opening Day roster
Coming up: Toronto left-hander Gustavo Chacin is scheduled to take the mound against Cleveland lefty C.C. Sabathia when the Blue Jays face the Indians at 1:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Chain of Lakes Park.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.