DUNEDIN, Florida - Go big or go home. Then, if the situation allows and the right player becomes available, go even further.
The Blue Jays are expected not only to contend in the AL East but some books in Las Vegas have them as 7-1 favourites to win the World Series. That is with the roster they have today. What about adding more payroll, in-season, if a player is available that could send the club over the top?
"If we're in it in July, I've been told that we certainly could," said Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos. "From what Paul's (Beeston) has expressed to me, if we're in it in July and we have a chance to add a player we'll be able to do it."
After restocking the organization with quality prospects via the draft and the trade market in his first three seasons on the job, Anthopoulos launched his broader plan into action this offseason when club ownership opened the vault and allowed him to make about $200-million worth of long-term commitments.
You know the notable acquisitions: First there was the November 19th deal that brought Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle and Emilio Bonifacio from the Marlins. Melky Cabrera signed shortly after as a free agent and then R.A. Dickey, considered the ace of the pitching staff, was added to ice the cake in a December 17th trade with the Mets.
Anthopoulos also addressed comments made by Adam Lind on Saturday, when Lind suggested he got conflicting messages from the coaching staff as he continued to struggle last season to recapture the magic of 2009. Lind implied that former manager John Farrell was preaching a patient approach at the plate, while former hitting coach (now first base coach) Dwayne Murphy suggested he be more aggressive.
"You try to please people, especially a manager because that's who puts your name on the lineup card," Lind said on Saturday, adding, "The types of personalities we had on our staff, last year, they micro-managed a lot. And that can affect how we play and how we coach."
To the extent Anthopoulos, typically low key, can bristle at comments made by one of his own players, he did. "I like Adam a lot but I don't necessarily entirely agree. The organization wanted him to be more selective (at the plate.) It's on me as well. I told Adam, 'you have an on-base percentage under .300 two years in a row.'
"(Dwayne Murphy) will tell you, when you get a pitch to hit, a strike, you swing and you attack it. You look for that pitch and if you don't get it, obviously at that point you lay off and that's where your walks will come from."
Lind is working closely with new hitting coach Chad Mottola, with whom he formed a bond when he was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas last May. Mottola was promoted to the big league staff after John Gibbons was hired to be manager.
Gibbons has Lind penciled in to the everyday lineup to start the season but plenty can happen between now and opening day. In order to maintain a consistent role with the Blue Jays, the 29-year-old will need to improve against left-handed pitching and he'll need to make some strides on that front in Grapefruit League action. He hit only .202 with two home runs against southpaws in 2012.
- Sergio Santos threw live batting practice on Sunday, for a total of 25 pitches. "I felt great," said Santos, 29. "The ball was coming out great. I threw some good change ups, a couple of good sliders. For the first time, having a hitter in the box, since April, it was nice."
Santos went down last April with an injured shoulder. He had surgery, which he describes as a "general clean up." Initially, there was fear Santos had suffered a torn labrum, which would have required a full calendar year of rehab.
As for his role in John Gibbons' bullpen, he's not concerned. Santos says he'll take the ball when it's handed to him.
- Other Blue Jays' pitchers who threw live BP: R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Brandon Morrow, Steve Delabar, Esmil Rogers, Brett Cecil, Darren Oliver, Brad Lincoln, Ramon Ortiz and Claudio Vargas.
- Dickey, an English literature major at the University of Tennessee, brought it at his post-workout media scrum on Sunday. Among the words he used, all in context, typically not heard in a pro sports' locker room: "purview," "metamorphosis," "crystallized" and "behooved."
Dickey threw about 40 pitches on Sunday. He said he "could have thrown 100" pitches if necessary.
- Conspicuous by his absence from Dunedin, first baseman David Cooper. Today, we found out why. Cooper, 26, is dealing with what the Blue Jays are calling a "serious" back injury.
Not expected to break camp with the Blue Jays, Cooper last played on August 22 before being placed on the disabled list with a back issue. He is out at least through spring training.