The Sportshound is back in the county!

Yes, I’ve been off for the last two weeks down in Dunedin Florida visiting the Blue Jays at their spring training facility.  This was our forth trip down there and if you ever get the chance to go it’s well worth it.  It’s a real fan friendly park where kids, and big kids like myself can pick up lots of autographs, standing right at field level along the fence watching batting practice. If you’re in the right place at the right time you get the big name guys already on the team to sign a ball for you, but usually its the young unknown players trying to make it into the big league that are always the easiest for autographs.

I can tell you honestly that, although the Jays lost a lot of games this spring, that really doesn’t tell the true story at all.  The starting line up has three or four veterans who usually play only about three or four innings then head to the club house getting replaced  by a rookie trying to make the team. The training camp is mostly for the scouts, coaching staff and managers to see the non roster players and give them playing time to see how they can perform at this level.

One of the veterans who I thought looked really good was Jose Bautista. Every time he came to the plate he hit the ball, got on base and also hit two dingers out of the park in the games we watched. And he looked really good playing in right field too. I thought he would be too slow this year, but he can still move very fast and made some really outstanding catches. He even stole third base at one of our games.  I think he caught everyone there by surprise.

Designated hitters Kendrys Morales played only one game while we were there and had no real good pitches to hit. The other DH Steve Pearce played in three games and hit the ball really well and will help the team for sure. Two names that you should  remember, non roster player first baseman Rowdy Tellez. He’s huge, has a big swing and can hit the deep one, can move quick side to side and catch, looks to me like a really good athlete at first base.  Bet we see him before the season is over. And catcher Mike Ohlman, he’s another monster of a man who can smack the ball.  Pitching looked really good too.  Starters Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada,  J. A. Happ and Francisco Lariano really had good innings. Aaron Loup and Ryan Tepera  had good stuff too in the middle for setting up the closer Roberto Osuna who was lights out throwing 95 mph plus.  Three of my favorite Jays players are Ryan Goins, Darwin Barney and Kevin Pillar. These guys are not as popular as the stars Donaldson, Tulowitzki, or Martin, but put out 100 percent effort in every inning I have seen them play over the last four years and sign a ton of autographs too for the fans.

This team is loaded with talent, the trouble is so is all the American East teams! But this is the year… I can feel it!  Lets go Jays!