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DUNEDIN, Fla. — It didn’t take lengthy, within the aftermath of the thud ending to his group’s 2022 post-season, for Blue Jays basic supervisor Ross Atkins to acknowledge that change was wanted to keep away from a group loaded with potential to stall in its ascent.
Including some maturity by way of veterans was excessive on the listing, as was enhancing the defence, the latter being essentially the most vigorous of the GM’s strikes. However most of all, Atkins felt it was time to get some help for a younger core that possibly wanted a extra highly effective locomotive on the entrance of the prepare.
Oddsmakers aren’t shopping for in simply but (the Jays’ World Collection odds are as excessive as 16-1, greater than a half dozen groups) and neither will the followers till they see outcomes. For now Atkins is declaring a win on the low season, a simple sufficient assertion with 162 video games nonetheless left to play.
As spring coaching begins to warmth up right here, we’ll start to see if the on-field work matches the off-field efforts of the entrance workplace.
“We really feel excellent concerning the group that we’ve got,” Atkins stated through the Grapefruit League media day on the Jays participant improvement complicated, his first public feedback this spring. “I feel over the course of the previous three to 4 years, the strides that our younger gamers that have been drafted right here or had been developed right here have continued to enhance and skilled some successful.
“Now this low season (we’ve added) numerous versatility and steadiness to our roster and along with that being actually excited concerning the potential high-impact additions that we really feel will take some strain off of that younger core.”
As is usually the case, there’s loads to unpack and interpret in Atkins feedback, however the GM made it clear that the group wanted to be higher — and never simply in uncooked expertise. Including veterans akin to outfielders Kevin Kiermaier and Daulton Varsho in addition to infielder Brandon Belt and beginning pitcher Chris Bassitt has dramatically modified the combination of what had the appearances of a detailed clubhouse.
There’s an excellent likelihood that may nonetheless be the case because the newcomers definitely appear to be a strong match with guys akin to Vlad Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette and George Springer.
However the truth that getting extra veteran gamers into the room was a transparent admission of what the entrance workplace felt to be one in every of final yr’s failings.
“The modifications simply put us in a very wholesome place to compete and take one other step,” Atkins stated. “I really feel like we’re in a stronger place than we have been yesterday and the week earlier than and the yr earlier than.”
PLEADING (FOR) THE FIFTH
The competitors for what might turn out to be a gaping gap within the fifth spot within the rotation acquired slightly extra attention-grabbing on Thursday when it was revealed that Mitch White has had a sluggish begin to his spring with a shoulder impingement that set him again in January.
Supervisor John Schneider stated the setback “has left him slightly bit behind by way of workload.”
Atkins, although, was extra imprecise.
“(I’m) exceptionally assured that he’s going to be within the combine (for the fifth spot),” he stated. “Having stated that, like with any pitcher, you by no means know for positive.”
Over to that identify so many Jays followers don’t need to hear — Yusei Kikuchi. For now, anyway, it appears like a little bit of a hope and a prayer perspective for the lefty who may very well be the front-runner for the again seat on the rotation bus.
“It’s all concerning the observe file for him,” stated Atkins, presumably referring to every thing that got here previous to 2022, his first season with the Jays.
“I simply really feel that his observe file of being efficient on the highest degree is one we imagine in.
“Not in contrast to the remainder of our roster, they’re all looking for methods to get higher and he’s additionally focussed on discovering alternatives and on the lookout for small modifications he could profit from.”
RYU THE DAY
All of it may be optimistic posturing at this level, however the Jays are clearly hopeful of getting injured starter Hyun-Jin Ryu again in motion a while within the coming season.
Ryu is with the group right here and is ambitiously recovering from elbow surgical procedure final July.
Schneider stated that if he does return to motion, will probably be with a spot within the rotation, although that will be a number of months down the highway.
Atkins, in the meantime, praised the South Korean southpaw for his work throughout his restoration.
“He has been dedicated,” Atkins stated. “He has been day by day fascinated by getting again as quickly as he probably can and he’s recovering effectively. He’s already feeling stronger and in a very good place.
“I don’t need to talk about timelines for him, however we’re exceptionally inspired with the place he’s in his restoration.”
It might or is probably not associated to the Jays’ beginning pitching depth, however Atkins says he continues to be energetic in talks to proceed including to his group and is doing so by way of totally different avenues.
“We’re at all times in talks,” Atkins stated. “I’ve had three immediately. I had a number of yesterday. Just a little extra focussed on free company.”
After which slightly back-track hedge from the GM.
“However we don’t really feel like we have to make any additions,” he added. “We really feel actually good concerning the group.”
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