Nate isn’t so great, while Canadian Romano picks up where he left off for Blue Jays

Article content

A highlight reel play on the field by Austin Martin, an erratic outing by Nate Pearson, the return of a healthy Jordan Romano, while Francisco Liriano threw a pitch for the first time in a Jays jersey since 2017.

It was quite a day at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., a day of highs and lows, a day manager Charlie Montoyo would confirm how free-agent George Springer will lead off Tuesday’s play at DH.

Sifting through what is relevant and what can be best described as noteworthy is difficult given only a handful of media was on hand to properly document the day’s events.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.
Try refreshing your browser.

In Montoyo, you have a good man who doesn’t know how to lie.

When he says Pearson wasn’t close to his best, you believe the skipper.

When he says he’s not putting any stock into Martin’s two-error game, you believe him.

Toronto’s fifth overall selection in the 2020 draft was making his spring league debut against baseball’s big boys.

The kid has been taking ground balls and fly balls with Montoyo saying Martin will soon see action in the outfield.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

As for Pearson, Montoyo wants him to pitch two innings next time he’s on the mound following his one inning on Monday.

Before Pearson recorded his final out, Montoyo said he had someone warming up.

Romano hurt his finger last season.

“He looked good,’’ said Montoyo of the Canadian. “He threw a couple of sliders and it was: ‘Oh my gosh, that’s nasty,’ from our view. He’s in great shape. He looked great today. I’m not surprised.”

At least for the first two opening homestands of the regular season, the Jays will use Dunedin as their home.

A year ago, Montoyo noticed how the wind was blowing out.

On Monday, it was blowing in from right field.

Springer, says Montoyo, will probably be in the outfield the next time he plays after Tuesday.

AIR MARTIN

By all accounts, Martin made a great play behind Pearson.

Once the ball hit the bat, Pearson knew it would be a hit.

“Oh man, that’s trouble,’’ he said. “I turn around and he’s already coming down with it. It was pretty impressive. He’s got some hops and reflexes. It was pretty exciting.”

YOUTH TO BE SERVED

Kudos to Sean Travers for his diligence and spirit of giving back to the community for helping launch the Cito Gaston Baseball Scholarship.

Travers first touched base with the back-to-back World Series champion manager 25 years ago when he created and managed a baseball academy out of Mississauga’s Playdium that bore Gaston’s name.

Travers’ latest at-bat involves the Mississauga Tigers High Performance Program, which is hoping to tap into deserving youths in the Black community who excel in the classroom.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

The lead sponsor of the Cito Gaston Baseball Scholarship is John Bitove Jr., a huge sports fan and accomplished businessman who spearheaded Toronto’s ownership group when the Raptors joined the NBA in 1995.

DOWN THE HATCH

Thomas Hatch got his first taste of the big leagues last year and made quite an impression by embracing a jack-of-all-trades role out of the pen.

The plan last year was for Hatch to start in Buffalo, site of the team’s triple-A affiliate, and work his way up.

Of course, all plans were scratched when COVID struck forcing teams and players to adjust on the fly.

The words exhausting, the toll it took mentally were used by Hatch during his Zoom call.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.
Try refreshing your browser.

Hatch also expressed pride at the way he and the entire team stepped up.

A new year ushers in a new set of challenges and for Hatch that means developing a curveball.

Hatch said he has thrown one live batting practice with the plan to throw a second before he gets to unleash the pitch in a live situation.

“It’s a good opportunity to feel it out and get reaction from the guys,’’ Hatch said.

Hatch admitted how his former team, the Chicago Cubs, first broached the subject of adding the curve to his pitching repertoire.

“I’ve never been a curveball guy, but it turns out they knew what they were talking about,’’ he said of the Cubs.

Hatch did admit how he threw a variation of the curve in high school and college.

“It’s a new world to me,’’ said Hatch in explaining how his slider is more of a power pitch, while the curve requires more finesse.

Advertisement

Story continues below
This advertisement has not loaded yet, but your article continues below.

Article content

MARCH MADNESS

On the first day of March, the Jays and Pirates played to a 2-2 tie.

Six Toronto pitchers combined to strike out eight.

The Jays had more strikeouts (5) and left more runners on base (6) than they recorded hits (3).

Starter Robbie Ray gave up one run on one hit in two innings before giving way to Pearson, Liriano, David Phelps, Ryan Borucki and Romano.

Alejandro Kirk’s sacrifice fly and Breyvic Valera’s single in the first off Mitch Keller accounted for Toronto’s scoring.

Anthony Alford, a former Jay, homered off Ray in the second before Phillip Evans knotted the game with a third-inning single off Pearson.

Ray was quite pleased with his command, needing eight pitches to complete the first inning.

He was really pleased at the way Ray threw his slider, his strikeout pitch.

“I felt it was there today,’’ said Ray.

“It was interesting,’’ said Ray of the surroundings. “To see fans in the stands is a welcome sight, for sure.”

News Near Exeter, Grand Bend and area

This Week in Flyers