02/16/11 7:45 PM EST
Blue Jays sign Podsednik to Minors deal
Contract for speedy outfielder includes Spring Training invite
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
The 34-year-old Podsednik is coming off a successful 2010 campaign, which saw him hit .297 with 52 RBIs and 35 stolen bases with the Royals and Dodgers.
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said that Podsednik hasn't received any guarantees about what his role with the organization will be, and ultimately it's a situation that will resolve itself during Spring Training.
"Right now, it's to compete to win a spot on the bench," Anthopoulos said. "We have the opportunity with playing time and his performance that things could certainly change. Right now, it would be to win a spot on the 25-man roster, and if he was to accomplish that, we would go from there and see where playing time might lead for him."
Anthopoulos added that if the regular season were to begin on Thursday, the club would be going with a starting outfield of Travis Snider in left field, Rajai Davis in center and Juan Rivera in right. That could change over time, but for now, Podsednik would have to settle for a reserve role if he is able to secure a spot on the roster.
Podsednik will be competing for one of the jobs on what is expected to be a four-man bench. The Blue Jays have catcher Jose Molina and veteran infielder John McDonald, who have guaranteed roles with the club, and the final two spots will be a competition between Podsednik, Corey Patterson and Mike McCoy.
The Minor League contract caps a tumultuous offseason for Podsednik. He declined to exercise a mutual option worth $2 million with the Dodgers at the end of the 2010 season because he believed there would be a better offer from another team.
It became evident as the offseason progressed that a better offer was not going to surface. Even though that would have come as a disappointment to a player who has spent the past 10 seasons in the Major Leagues, Anthopoulos said he doesn't have any concerns about Podsednik entering camp unhappy.
"His reputation precedes him," Anthopoulos said. "Everything we've been told is that he is a great teammate, great worker, a player of high character and high integrity and a real model for the young players, just in the way he carries himself and his approach to the game."
Even though Podsednik is currently being described as a bench player, a lot of things could change during Spring Training or at the start of the season. Last year, the Blue Jays acquired Fred Lewis, who appeared headed toward a reserve role in the outfield as well. He ended up appearing in 110 games for the club, and it's possible a similar situation could surface this season with Podsednik.
"It's a long year -- players get hurt, players don't perform," Anthopoulos said. "I'll let [manager] John Farrell handle the lineups and the playing time, but right now, our thought process is that [Snider, Davis and Rivera] will be in the outfield, but that certainly could change over the course of Spring Training, and it certainly can change over the course of the year."
Due to the late signing, Podsednik is not expected to report to camp with the rest of the Blue Jays' position players on Friday. He is currently tying up some loose ends in his home state of Texas and will travel to Florida on Sunday.
The former third-round Draft pick is a .279 lifetime hitter with an on-base percentage of .340. Over the course of 1,016 games, he has recorded 301 stolen bases and scored 544 runs.