Morales homers, plates pair in loss to Phils

Morales homers, plates pair in loss to Phils

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- New Blue Jays designated hitter Kendrys Morales had two hits, including a home run, and drove in two, but the Phillies rolled to a 10-3 victory in Toronto's Grapefruit League home opener at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on Sunday.

The Phillies were able to take advantage of some uncertain Toronto defense to score three unearned runs in the second inning and never trailed after that.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Salty smacks 2-run HR in loss to Yanks

Salty smacks 2-run HR in loss to Yanks

TAMPA, Fla. -- Luis Severino looked sharp in his opening bid to secure a rotation spot and Starlin Castro homered as the Yankees defeated the Blue Jays, 7-2, in Grapefruit League action Sunday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Severino worked two scoreless innings in his spring debut, permitting just a walk with a strikeout. Severino is looking to reclaim one of the Yankees' two rotation vacancies after he lost the job in the middle of last season by going 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA in 11 starts.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The kids are all right for Blue Jays in opener

The kids are all right for Blue Jays in opener

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Bartolo Colon minimized damage over the first two innings and Anthony Recker delivered a two-run single in a four-run fifth inning that propelled the Braves toward a 7-4 win over the Blue Jays in a mutual Grapefruit League season opener at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex on Saturday afternoon.

"It was good to just get the guys out there and get some at-bats and run around and get the exertion from playing games," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Everybody looked pretty good."

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gurriel makes professional debut

Highly touted Cuban prospect goes 0-for-2 in Blue Jays' spring opener

Gurriel makes professional debut

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A lot has happened for Lourdes Gurriel since the last time he played in a baseball game. That was in 2015 for the Industriales de La Habana in the Cuban National Series.

Considered one of the top international prospects, Gurriel defected from Cuba and eventually signed a seven-year, $22 million contract with the Blue Jays. And Saturday, in the Grapefruit League opener for both teams at Champion Stadium, he made his North American debut in Toronto's 7-4 loss to the Braves.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dickey in reflective mood as spring play opens

Veteran knuckleballer talks about his four seasons in Toronto before Blue Jays play Braves

Dickey in reflective mood as spring play opens

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There were signs that R.A. Dickey's time with the Blue Jays was running out late last season: He made only three appearances in September, and he wasn't included on the postseason roster.

So it wasn't surprising when the 42-year-old knuckleballer wasn't pursued as a free agent by Toronto. He eventually signed with the Braves. And before Saturday's Grapefruit League opener at Champion Stadium between his last team and his current club, he reflected on the four years he spent in Toronto.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Donaldson shows off adorable puppy

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Donaldson shows off adorable puppy

A little less than a month ago, we posed a profoundly important question: Of all the good baseball dogs, which was the vvery best baseball dog? The people made their voices heard, and we thought we had arrived at an answer.

... until Saturday, that is, when we were introduced to Josh Donaldson's puppy.

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Gibbons using spring to evaluate youth

Urena, Alford, Pompey among Jays' prospects getting shot at camp

Gibbons using spring to evaluate youth

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- There will come times during the regular season, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons knows, when an injury or a slump or a trade or some other curve thrown by the baseball gods will force the organization to consider its Minor League options.

And that, believe it or not, is one of the things he'll be thinking about during the Grapefruit League season, which opens Saturday against the Braves at Champion Field.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pompey out to make a good impression on Blue Jays

Pompey out to make a good impression on Blue Jays

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Outfielder Dalton Pompey has the ability and athleticism. Everybody agrees with that. He's had opportunities, too. Two years ago he was the Blue Jays' Opening Day center fielder.

He's also a native of Mississauga, Ont., so both the front office and fans have a reason to root for him.

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bautista deal evidence of shifting market

Players Association director Clark says offseason valuation of veteran sluggers 'something we're keeping an eye on'

Bautista deal evidence of shifting market

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- A year ago, the Blue Jays couldn't be sure they'd have centerpiece slugger Jose Bautista back this season. After all, he was going to become a free agent, and numbers like $150 million were floating in the tropical breeze.

But the market for veteran home run hitters (including Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Carter and Mark Trumbo) turned out to be far less robust than anticipated. Bautista ended up returning to Toronto on a one-year, $18.5 million deal.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blue Jays set rotation for first 3 spring games

Lawrence to start opener, with Latos, Oberholtzer due for split-squad matchups Sunday

Blue Jays set rotation for first 3 spring games

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Right-hander Mat Latos, one of the most intriguing arms in camp, will pitch when the Blue Jays play their Grapefruit League home opener Sunday against the Phillies at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, manager John Gibbons said Thursday.

Latos was signed to a Minor League contract just a week ago. With the Padres and Reds from 2009-14, he went 60-45 with a 3.34 ERA and a 1.168 WHIP. He's still just 29, but he has battled injuries and ineffectiveness the last two seasons with the Marlins, Dodgers, Angels, White Sox and Nationals.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sparkman could be Toronto's next Rule 5 success

Blue Jays hoping strong track record continues with right-hander

Sparkman could be Toronto's next Rule 5 success

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Around the Blue Jays, the lore of the Rule 5 Draft is handed down from generation to generation.

How George Bell was plucked from the Phillies in 1980 and went on to become the American League's Most Valuable Player in '87. How Willie Upshaw, taken from the Yankees' organization, became the first Blue Jay to drive in 100 runs and the first baseman for the franchise's first division winner in '85. How Kelly Gruber and Manny Lee formed the left side of the infield for Toronto's first World Series championship in '92.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Elder statesman Grilli: 'I've always bet on me'

Competitive fire still burns for 40-year-old reliever still eyeing World Series title

Elder statesman Grilli: 'I've always bet on me'

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Bartolo Colon, who will turn 44 in May, is the oldest active big leaguer at the moment. Ichiro is seven months younger. R.A. Dickey is 42, and Koji Uehara will get there on Opening Day.

Then there's Blue Jays reliever Jason Grilli. He turned 40 last November, which is impressive all by itself. Not only that, he made 46 relief appearances for the Blue Jays, allowed fewer hits (28) than innings pitched (42) and had a 3.64 earned run average. Against a backdrop of contemporaries like David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, David Ross, Joel Peralta and (apparently) A.J. Pierzynski retiring after last season, he's still going strong.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smoak could earn, run with starting job

Consistent playing time may help lead to a bounce-back season

Smoak could earn, run with starting job

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Who's on first? The Blue Jays are hoping Justin Smoak will grab hold of the starting job and not let go.

After sharing time for the past two seasons with Chris Colabello, Smoak now has the chance to own the job all to himself.

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Mike Nabors is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Upton brings rare feat into 13th season

Upton brings rare feat into 13th season

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Call them Baseball's Elite Eight. You have Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Mookie Betts, Wil Myers, Jose Altuve, Ian Desmond, Paul Goldschmidt and ... Melvin Upton Jr.?

Many would be surprised Upton would be in such elite company, but the Blue Jays outfielder joined the others last season as exclusive members of baseball's 20/20 club, hitting at least 20 home runs while stealing 20 bases.

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Mike Nabors is a contributor to MLB.com based in Dunedin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blue Jays not concerned with strikeout rate

Blue Jays not concerned with strikeout rate

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays' offensive dropoff last season was startling. After ranking second in the Major Leagues in hitting in 2015, they fell to 23rd -- sliding from second in the American League to 12th.

A lot of factors contributed as the team's batting average, home run and RBI totals were all down, but one area stood out -- strikeouts.

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Mike Nabors is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Happ honing 'explosiveness' in workouts

Less running and more strength building are goals for left-hander, other Blue Jays starters

Happ honing 'explosiveness' in workouts

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- For decades, running has been a key part of pitcher's conditioning programs. And, for decades, some have questioned the practice.

During the 1960s, Johnny Sain was the pitching coach for five of the 10 American League pennant winners. He also once famously observed, "You don't run the ball up to the plate." After Steve Carlton won one of his Cy Young Awards with the Phillies, he created a minor kerfuffle by refusing to run the following spring.

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Martin: Salty 'somebody that I can rely on'

Backstop tandem will benefit Blue Jays, give both players adequate rest

Martin: Salty 'somebody that I can rely on'

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- In Russell Martin's second full season in the big leagues, 2008 with the Dodgers, he played in 155 games and was behind the plate in a remarkable 149 of them. "It used to be an ego thing, that I wanted to play every day," the Blue Jays catcher said before Tuesday's workout.

Now that he's 34, Martin still wants to play every day. He just realizes that it's not always the best idea for him or the team.

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blue Jays hope Liriano continues to flourish

Post-trade, pitcher boosted by change of scenery, Martin's encouragement

Blue Jays hope Liriano continues to flourish

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- When Francisco Liriano was traded from the Pirates to the Blue Jays on Aug. 1, his uniform wasn't the only thing that changed.

For Pittsburgh, Liriano had a 5.46 ERA in 21 starts. With Toronto, he had a 2.92 ERA in 10 appearances, eight of them starts, one big reason why the Blue Jays made it to the postseason.

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Who is Blue Jays' Opening Day starter?

Beat reporter Gregor Chisholm answers fans' questions

Inbox: Who is Blue Jays' Opening Day starter?

Who is going to be the Opening Day starter on the road and at home?
-- Liz, Toronto

The Blue Jays have a few different directions they can take here, but odds are that Aaron Sanchez and J.A. Happ will get the call for Opening Day and the home opener. Toronto has two off-days during the first week of the season, which means whoever starts Opening Day likely gets the finale in Tampa Bay on April 9 with the No. 2 starting the home opener on April 11.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stroman expecting a dominant year on mound

Stroman expecting a dominant year on mound

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman has been an Opening Day starter. He's also started five postseason games, including the win-or-go-home American League Wild Card match-up against the Orioles last October. Toronto won.

Still, the 25-year-old -- now two years removed from surgery to repair the torn ACL in his left knee -- indicated after Monday's workout that he believes the best is yet to come.

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pearce gives Blue Jays options in field

Veteran focusing on getting healthy by Opening Day

Pearce gives Blue Jays options in field

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Steve Pearce has spent the last four seasons in the American League East, playing for the Orioles and Rays. So he saw a lot of the Blue Jays. And he liked what he saw.

"They were a tough team," he said Monday after the Blue Jays completed their workout. "You had to bring it against them every night. They knew it. They're a cocky team. They're fun to play against."

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blue Jays say rotation is in league of its own

Blue Jays say rotation is in league of its own

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays weren't quite sure what to make of their rotation going into last season. They knew there were some talented arms in camp but not much else.

And now?

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Donaldson could miss 2-3 weeks with calf strain

Donaldson could miss 2-3 weeks with calf strain

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson says he could miss two to three weeks of Spring Training due to a right calf strain he sustained on Friday.

Addressing reporters for the first time, Donaldson said he had been feeling "phenomenal" in prior workouts, but he felt something grab in his muscle while running sprints. The three-time All-Star was walking with the assistance of crutches in the clubhouse on Sunday to take pressure off his leg, and he expects to remain on them for a few days.

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Jeff Odom is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Breaking down the Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects

Toronto's farm system poised to play bigger role in near future

Breaking down the Blue Jays' Top 30 Prospects

A late-season surge up the American League East standings thrust the Blue Jays into the postseason for the second time in as many years in 2016. They continued to surge in October, beating the Orioles in dramatic fashion in the AL Wild Card Game, and then knocking off the Rangers to advance to the AL Championship Series, where they were defeated by the World Series-bound Indians in five games.

The Blue Jays did all of that with minimal help from their farm system, as only one player on the team's 2017 Top 30 prospects list, right-handed reliever Danny Barnes, enters the season with big league experience. That should change, though, with an aging team set to give way to an inevitable turnover in the coming years.

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Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Morales admires Blue Jays' 'intensity on field'

Slugger hoping for smooth transition into Toronto's lineup

Morales admires Blue Jays' 'intensity on field'

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- When Kendrys Morales hit free agency this past November, there was never a doubt in his mind where he wanted to go.

Following the conclusion of a torrid second season in Kansas City -- in which the designated hitter/first baseman became the first Royals player since 2000 to hit 30 home runs -- Morales and his agent met with Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins to discuss Morales joining Toronto.

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Jeff Odom is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

For Loup, Glove Day like Christmas

For Loup, Glove Day like Christmas

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The start of Spring Training is always an exciting time for Blue Jays reliever Aaron Loup. There's seeing the familiar faces of coaches and teammates around the clubhouse after an offseason apart. There's getting back to work in preparation for the grind of a fast-approaching regular season.

And then there's Wilson Glove Day, which Loup compares to the thrill of opening presents on Christmas morning.

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Jeff Odom is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Travis close to full health, working with Tulo

Second baseman nearing return to field after minor offseason knee surgery

Travis close to full health, working with Tulo

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis says he's close to full health after having offseason surgery to remove a flap of cartilage from his right knee.

Travis, who missed time during the 2016 American League Division Series and Championship Series with a bone bruise in his knee, said the key is being smart and using the spring to work his way into shape.

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Corey Long is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.