09/04/07 8:22 PM ET
Notes: League switches training sites
Reliever trades in surfing in Hawaii for weight room in Florida
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Starting this coming winter, League will reside in Florida, putting the 24-year-old pitcher near Toronto's Spring Training site. It will be the first time that League doesn't spend the offseason at home in Hawaii, where used to spend time surfing between baseball seasons.
"I talked it over with my wife and we agreed that my career and family are more important than where we live," League said. "So, we're planning on staying in Florida this year. That way, I can be close to the trainers and close to the facilities."
Last offseason, League went home to Honolulu and took two months off from throwing and lifting weights after an MRI exam in October revealed a slight tear in his right labrum. By the time he showed up to Florida in February, League's mechanics were out of whack and he had lost nearly 10 mph on his fastball.
It was a disappointing development for League and the Jays, who had the 24-year-old penciled in as their setup man for this season -- a year after he posted a 2.53 ERA out of the bullpen. Instead, League landed on the disabled list twice this season, including more than a three-month stay on the shelf to open the year.
League, who was activated from the 15-day DL on Tuesday, desperately wants things to be different next year. He plans on only taking a few weeks off this winter in order to arrive to Spring Training at 100 percent.
During this past spring, League's pitches were topping out between 87-92 mph. In a recent rehab outing in the Gulf Coast League, though, one of the pitcher's fastballs was clocked at 97 mph, giving League hope that he's getting back on track.
"That was just good to hear," League said. "My main concern was that there was no pain. I feel good. I'm pretty much back to where I was."
The only difference now is where he won't be -- in Hawaii with a surfboard in hand. Still, despite the rumors and reports that his surfing hobby helped lead to his shoulder woes, League insists that had nothing to do with the arm issues.
"I've been surfing since I was 7 years old and it never was a problem," said League, when asked if there was any validity to the reports. "It was something to put the blame on, I guess.
"If you just say that you have an extremely tight shoulder and that you're not throwing like you did the year before, it's not as believable as maybe saying it's because of the surfing. But that's in the past. I've gotten over that."
Reinforcements: As expected, the cramped visitors' clubhouse at Fenway Park became even more claustrophobic on Tuesday, when the Jays added three more players to their roster. Toronto steered clear of any surprises, promoting catcher Sal Fasano, infielder Hector Luna and right-hander Josh Banks.
The lone newcomer to the Blue Jays is the 25-year-old Banks, who went 12-10 with a 4.63 ERA in 27 starts for Triple-A Syracuse this season. Banks will be moved into Toronto's bullpen, but Gibbons said the pitcher could potentially make a start toward the end of September.
"We'll see. We'll pick our spots and ease him in," manager John Gibbons said about Banks, who struck out 101 batters and walked 24 over 169 innings this year. "He's mainly a guy to help take the load off those guys [in the bullpen] in certain situations."
Lowell and behold: Mike Lowell continues to be a thorn in Toronto's side. On Monday night, Boston's third baseman went 3-for-4 with a three-run home run in a 13-10 win over the Jays. The Red Sox even scored two runs when Lowell reached on an error in the fourth inning.
Through Monday, Lowell had posted a .404 (19-for-47) average with six homers and 16 RBIs in 12 games against the Blue Jays. For his career, Lowell has hit .379 (58-for-153) with 11 home runs and 40 RBIs in 40 games against Toronto.
"Personally, against our team, he wears us out," Gibbons said. "Every year, he's a run producer and as clutch of a hitter as you're going to find. He plays some great defense, too. Once again, he burned us."
Welcome Matt: Gibbons continued to play the hot hand on Tuesday, opting to keep Matt Stairs in Toronto's lineup in place of left fielder Reed Johnson. Over Stairs' past 21 games, the 39-year-old -- 4-for-4 on Monday night -- has hit .479 with four homers, 14 doubles, 12 RBIs and 14 runs.
"I cant keep him out, you know?" Gibbons said. "We're just trying to put the team out there that gives us the best chance to win."
Minor matters: On Tuesday, Kevin Barker was named the International League's Batter of the Week after hitting .452 (14-for-31) with four homers and eight RBIs in eight games for Triple-A Syracuse. ... Double-A New Hampshire dropped an 8-6 decision on Monday night, putting the club into a tie with Portland with a 70-72 record. The club's will compete in a one-game playoff at 6 p.m. ET on Tuesday in Portland.
Out of town: Gibbons said that Jays infielder Ray Olmedo went home to Syracuse to be with his wife, who was having a baby. Olmedo is expected to be away from the team for a few days.
Did you know? Stairs' double in the first inning on Monday night gave him nine consecutive extra-base hits -- a streak that ended when he singled in the third. The Blue Jays' club record is 11 straight extra-base hits, which was accomplished by Jose Cruz Jr. in 2000.
Quotable: "The beaches aren't going anywhere. My No. 1 priorities right now are my career and my family." --League, on his decision not to live in Hawaii this winter
Coming up: Toronto right-hander Shaun Marcum (12-5, 3.75 ERA) is slated to take the mound when the Blue Jays face the Red Sox at 7:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Fenway Park. Boston will counter with righty Curt Schilling (8-6, 4.02 ERA).
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.