Notes: Halladay, Burnett flex muscles

Notes: Halladay, Burnett flex muscles

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The sound of a baseball popping in a catcher's mitt is a staple at Spring Training every year. Toronto's pitchers and their catching counterparts have been getting aquainted all week, and the typical noises that go along with throwing sessions have been present on a daily basis.

On this particular day, though, there were batters. Not that it sounded like it.

"You don't hear much wood do you?" said Blue Jays hitting coach Mickey Brantley, who was sporting a wide grin as he darted between the two diamonds where live batting practice was taking place on Wednesday.

The problem wasn't with Toronto's hitters, though. The quiet bats had a little something to do with the fact that Roy Halladay was throwing off one mound and A.J. Burnett was firing away on the other. It was the first time this spring that Jays pitchers threw to batters, and the top two hurlers on the roster were the first to take the hill against some brave volunteers.

"It's not fun to see that first," Russ Adams said after facing Halladay.

Batters would rotate in and out after seeing five pitches, and the hitters weren't required to swing, but it didn't take long for the first attempt. Catcher Mike Mahoney, who had never faced Halladay before, swung at the former Cy Young Award winner's fourth offering, which promptly shattered his bat.

"He throws fast," was all Mahoney could muster as he shook his head and went to retrieve a new piece of lumber.

After a string of foul balls, weak grounders and one whiff, Mahoney redeemed himself by becoming the first hitter to send one of Halladay's pitches -- his 20th, to be exact -- into the outfield. Adams said that Halladay was mixing in his fastball, changeup, sinker and cutter.

"Seeing Doc right out of the gate," Adams said. "you can't expect too much of yourself."

"You've got the screen and the cage behind [the batters], so it's just a different feel," Halladay said. "But I was comfortable. I comfortably pitched in a little today and I was happy with that."

Halladay said he is recovered from the broken leg that cut his season short last year. The right-hander said the leg hasn't been an issue since about a month after the season ended and that his offseason workouts remained the same as any other year, just with less running.

Over on the other field, catcher Bengie Molina said that from the batter's box, it looked like Burnett was throwing around 90 mph.

"Really?" Burnett said, sounding surprised. "I was only throwing at around 80 percent."

It could just be a case where the pitches appeared faster to the hitters, who were looking at live pitching for the first time this year. After Burnett came new closer B.J. Ryan, who was throwing around 88 mph, according to Lyle Overbay. Ryan later said he thought he was only topping out at around 83.

"The good pitchers were ahead of the hitters today," Toronto manager John Gibbons said.

Not again: Right-hander Justin Speier's middle finger on his pitching hand starting hurting when he was throwing on Wednesday. Speier cut his workout short in order to avoid aggravating the injury any further.

The finger was the same one Speier sprained last Sept. 27 in the second game of a doubleheader against Boston. Speier wore a splint on the finger after the injury and sat out the rest of the season.

Gibbons didn't think the injury was of any major concern, though.

"It's that same area where he had that problem last year," Gibbons said. "So he only threw a few pitches and shut it down. After you have an injury, it might just be some scar tissue."

Speier, 32, was 3-2 with a 2.57 ERA in 65 games last year. Only Halladay (2.41) had a better ERA on the team.

O Canada: Toronto pitching prospect Vince Perkins was named to Canada's preliminary 30-man roster for the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday.

Perkins, who is from Victoria, B.C., was 7-7 with a 4.03 ERA for Double-A New Hampshire last season. The 24-year-old right-hander is a starter in Toronto's farm system, but could serve as a reliever for Team Canada.

The Canadian team will meet in Dunedin on March 2 for a short training period before taking on South Africa in its World Baseball Classic opener on March 7 in Arizona. The Blue Jays will play a split-squad exhibition game against Team Canada on March 3 at Knology Park, Toronto's Spring Training stadium.

Lending a hand: Lloyd Moseby, who spent 10 seasons in the outfield for the Blue Jays, will visit a series of Rogers Video stores around Toronto on Feb. 24-25 to greet fans and sign autographs.

On Feb. 24, Moseby will be available at 12:30 p.m. ET at the video store at the corner of Bloor and Jarvis. On Feb. 25, he'll visit the 1965 Yonge St. store at noon, the 808 York Mills Rd. store at 2:30 p.m. and the 920 Southdown Rd location at 5 p.m.

Moseby's appearance coincides with the opening of Toronto's ticket box office. Starting on Feb. 25, single-game tickets will be available at 80 different Rogers Video locations in and around the Greater Toronto Area.

The two-day event also kicks off the club's new Flashback Fridays program, which is aimed at celebrating the Blue Jays' 30th season. At every home game this season, former Toronto players will make appearances at the Rogers Centre.

Quotable: "Having those two guys at the top of the rotation is going to do nothing but positive things for us." -- Adams, on Halladay and Burnett

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.