MacArthur: Jays impressed with Hutchison, Santos on the block

Scott MacArthur
3/2/2014 5:05:15 PM
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DUNEDIN, Florida – The Blue Jays dropped to 3-2 in Grapefruit League action following an 8-2 loss to the Yankees at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on Sunday.

Right-hander Todd Redmond took the loss. Jose Bautista hit his second home run of the spring.

Here are a handful of tidbits from around camp:

Hutchison impressive

The Blue Jays are being cautious when talking about their young arms but internally, excitement is building over the way Drew Hutchison is looking and performing this spring.

Hutchison is among those looking to secure an available spot in the starting rotation.

According to the official radar gun at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Drew Hutchison's four-seam fastball topped out at 94 miles per hour during Saturday's start against the Orioles.

The Blue Jays have different, even more encouraging information. Scouts had readings as high as 96 miles per hour. Hutchison, as is his custom when he's on his game, was locating his pitches and working the corners of the plate.

Hutchison threw two innings, didn't allow a run, gave up one hit and struck out four. He threw 38 pitches, 25 for strikes.

Anthopoulos looking to deal

The Blue Jays have an abundance of bullpen arms and general manager Alex Anthopoulos continues to dangle some of that pitching depth in an effort to upgrade the ballclub.

Toronto is looking for starting pitching help, which may be found internally (see above on Hutchison,) and an established right-handed bat off the bench.

Sergio Santos, who was almost traded during the offseason, is a name that continues to come up in discussions.

Seitzer thrilled with early returns

New hitting coach Kevin Seitzer isn't just encouraged by the Blue Jays' offensive start to spring training, he's thrilled.

"I get goosebumps right now thinking about it," said Seitzer. "Getting timing in games is very, very difficult for hitters to do, especially early in camp. The quality of at-bats, the takes, the lack of panic, the plan, the approach, I couldn't be more pleased. They have been professionals every single day in their early work, batting practice routines. I haven't heard one person complain about anything at all from an offensive standpoint."

While Brett Lawrie has missed the last two games due to hamstring tightness, he's impressed Seitzer early with his gap-to-gap approach. The two continue to work on limiting Lawrie's movement in the batter's box, including lessening Lawrie's hand waggle.

"We're eating this elephant one bite at a time and my focus is opening day to where he's dialing in," said Seitzer. "But where he continues to try and do it, quieting down, keep those hands still when he's loading, he's getting results. He took 96 mph the other way the other day on that lefty who had a good fastball and it was middle in. He didn't panic, he didn't force it, he didn't jerk, all he did was stay short and stay inside and he smoked a ball past first. The opposite field doubles he's hit driving the ball the other way, he told me right out of the gate that was his focus the last month and a half when he started to have some success."

By the time he first met the media in January, during the winter caravan, second baseman Ryan Goins had taken Seitzer up on an open invitation to visit his home in Kansas City. It was an opportunity for the two to become acquainted and lay a foundation for the work they're doing this spring. Seitzer believes Goins could be a .270 or .280 hitter in the big leagues, suggesting he has the mental acumen to develop into a .300 hitter.

"I don't like dropping ceilings on guys because you just never know," said Seitzer. "You never know how he's going to be able to handle big-league pitching on a daily basis and be able to make the adjustments that he needs to make. But so far, everything I've seen has been very good, very positive, that he's going to be able to make those adjustments that he needs to make. But that remains to be seen, there's been a lot of hitters that I've worked with that are really good in the cage, in batting practice but then putting it into the game is the last big challenge. But I think mentally and emotionally, he's tough enough to have the discipline to be able to do that everyday."

Janssen sore

Casey Janssen is dealing with stiffness in his pitching shoulder, which has prevented him from maintaining a normal spring schedule, including regular bullpen sessions and appearances in Grapefruit League games.

"I think it's just the inflammation," said Janssen. "It's going to subside. Just take a couple of days off and get right back on and start throwing again."

Janssen underwent an MRI, which revealed inflammation in the back of his shoulder, where the decelerator muscles are located. Last spring and for most of last season, Janssen was hampered by soreness in his rotator cuff, the result of surgery he had in the 2012-2013 offseason.

"It always sucks but I think I know how to get ready," he said. "I was looking forward to a normal spring, coming with all the guys and that's what I was expecting but unfortunately, I haven't been in a game yet and all the other stuff but I'll get there. Eyes are on opening day like they always were."

Janssen won't pick up a baseball for at least two more days. He'll attempt to play long toss and if his shoulder reacts positively, he'll progress to bullpen sessions and then work his way into games.

Rasmus Scratched

Colby Rasmus was in manager John Gibbons' Sunday lineup but removed himself due to a stiff neck.

"I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning," said Rasmus. "Got a little crink in my neck. Just one of those things, after throwing and warming up, I just feel like I need to take myself out just as a precaution. In a couple of days, I should be fine."

Clubs typically travel skeleton rosters to far away places and so it's likely Rasmus wasn't going to play on Monday in Fort Myers, against the Twins, anyway. He hopes to return on Tuesday.

"Normally you throw some hot sauce on there and go about your business," said Rasmus. "It just kind of locked up a little tighter."

Yankees almost smoked out

The Yankees briefly considered evacuating the visitor's clubhouse before Sunday's game at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium when smoke from an over-heated dryer began to waft into the locker room.

The matter was quickly brought under control.

Perez and Ohka reassigned

Left-hander Juan Perez and right-hander Tomo Ohka, who's making a comeback attempt as a knuckleball pitcher, have been reassigned to minor league camp.

The Blue Jays now have 58 players remaining in major league camp.

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