02/22/2013 3:36 PM ET
Blue Jays set for spring opener vs. Tigers
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The monotonous routine of daily workouts has come to an end and the Blue Jays are set to open their Grapefruit League season with a game against the Tigers on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET.
Right-hander Brandon Morrow will take the mound for one inning, and he is expected to be followed by the likes of Brad Lincoln, Steve Delabar and Esmil Rogers.
Third baseman Brett Lawrie will lead the way for the position players on the road trip to nearby Lakeland. Also joining him will be Adam Lind, J.P. Arencibia, Emilio Bonifacio, Maicer Izturis and others.
"I'm optimistic how it will all fit together, but like the fans, I want to see them all playing together and get excited about it," manager John Gibbons said Friday afternoon.
"Early on they won't all be playing together every day, we'll be staggering the days a little bit, and then of course a few of them are leaving for the [World Baseball Classic]. But the last couple of weeks we'll have them all out there mostly everyday, and then that's when we'll really see what we've got."
The Blue Jays will play 34 exhibition this games this spring, including two that are set to take place in Philadelphia from March 29-30. From there, they'll travel to Toronto for the start of the regular season on April 2 versus the Indians.
There aren't many jobs up for grabs this spring. There are a pair of vacancies in the bullpen and the starting job at second base is up for grabs, but besides that it's more about getting ready for the start of the year without any complications. Gibbons said he doesn't plan to get in the way.
"The veteran guys, you don't have to worry about them. They're on our program, but they monitor themselves," Gibbons said. "We'll check with them and see if they need to back off, we'll back off. You just want to be ready for Opening Day."
Blue Jays to eye how Lind handles lefties
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- One of the things Blue Jays manager John Gibbons will be closely monitoring this spring is how Adam Lind handles left-handed pitching.
The Blue Jays are currently debating whether Lind will be an everyday player this year or instead be used in some sort of a platoon.
The final call likely won't be made for quite some time -- perhaps not even until the start of the season -- because results in the spring sometimes have to be taken with a grain of salt.
"We're looking at it," Gibbons said. "That's what we want to [evaluate], because we have some right-handed bats that could fill that hole if we're stronger that way.
"He has to get his timing [first] ... timing is a big thing this time of the year. But we'll see how the swings look."
Lind hit just .202 with a .553 OPS against lefties last season and owns a .220 average and .607 OPS versus southpaws in his career. Those numbers compare unfavorably to the .282 career average and .836 OPS he has against righties.
There has been some talk that center fielder Colby Rasmus would be a possibility for a platoon role this season as well, but Gibbons did his best to downplay that Friday afternoon.
Rasmus hit .182 versus lefties in 2012, compared to a .238 mark against righties. Gibbons said with the exception of an occasional day off, though, Rasmus will be in the lineup on a regular basis.
"We really haven't talked a lot about that," Gibbons said of a potential platoon. "We're really focused on Lind. Colby, we'll give him a day off every now and then against a tough lefty, but that hasn't been a focal point on platooning him. We haven't even talked about that."
Toronto has some intriguing pieces that could be used off the bench against righties. Emilio Bonifacio and Rajai Davis are expected to enter the fold at some point, while even the light-hitting catcher Henry Blanco has fared well against righties during his career.
Rivera adjusting to new job as third-base coach
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Spring Training is the time for players to work out the kinks before the start of the season, but the same could be said for Luis Rivera.
Toronto's new third-base coach will use the Grapefruit League season to become re-acclimated with the position and continue to build scouting reports on opposing teams.
Rivera does have the added benefit of two-years experience on Toronto's coaching staff, but there still will be a learning curve as he takes over for the departed Brian Butterfield.
"You have to know the outfielders' arms," Rivera said. "Being around for the last couple of years and listening to the meetings we had before games, I have a good idea of who can throw and who cannot throw. To both sides [of the plate], left and right. I need to know that.
"I need to know the guys we can challenge if we can send them to the plate, and I need to know the game situations. I'm very aware of what's going on and what's going to need to be done."
Butterfield earned a reputation across the league for being one of the most aggressive third-base coaches in the game. His philosophy was to force the issue and cause opposing teams to make mistakes.
Rivera could take a similar approach, but he doesn't want to lock himself into one type of strategy. There will be plenty of factors at play in his decision-making process and the line of thinking will be constantly changing depending on the scenario.
"I cannot say what kind of coach I'm going to be at third base, aggressive or not," said Rivera, who spent time coaching third as part of his managerial duties while managing in the Blue Jays' Minor League system for four years.
"The play is going to dictate how I'm doing that over there. The score, a lot of things come into play, who's hitting next, how many outs. All of that stuff comes into play, so for me to make a decision and try to find out what kind of coach I'm going to be, aggressive or not aggressive, the game will dictate."