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Blue Jays GM denies interest in big bat, pitcher

Blue Jays GM denies interest in big bat, pitcher

Blue Jays GM denies interest in big bat, pitcher
TORONTO -- Alex Anthopoulos refuted a recent online report which suggested his club was actively searching for a big bat and frontline starter.

Anthopoulos emphatically denied the claims contained in an ESPN.com article that stated the Blue Jays were "hunting diligently" for upgrades in both areas.

Toronto's general manager isn't opposed to making changes later in the year, but at this point has not engaged in any serious talks.

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"I've had zero dialogue with GMs right now on anything remotely resembling that," Anthopoulos said while talking to reporters prior to Sunday afternoon's game against Seattle. "That's no knock against the report, but it just goes to show you how many things -- it's beyond way out there."

Anthopoulos also received media attention earlier this week for stating on XM Radio that he would be interested in adding another middle-of-the-order offensive player.

That's something Anthopoulos felt was taken out of context and had been an answer to a hypothetical question posed by the host. Anthopoulos claimed it's not something he's interested in pursuing at the moment, because he'd rather see how things work out with the group currently assembled.

"I was asked on the radio in a hypothetical, which you're always told not to answer," Anthopoulos said. "Well I decided to answer it just to be a good guy, so they said ... 'If you think you had to add anything between now and July, if you had to predict and guess, if you're going to look at adding anything between now and July, what do you think it would be?'

"I'm sitting there a week into the season, my answer I believe was, 'I want to be optimistic about our rotation, because we have a lot of young starters.' So, being optimistic about our starters, hoping we don't have a need for a starter -- well if you don't have a need for a starter maybe you go out and get a big bat to grind out the lineup. It wasn't, 'Hey we're out there.'"

Trade talks typically remain relatively stagnant at this time of the year. At the very end of Spring Training there is usually a brief window of opportunity to make some moves, but those negotiations tend to hit a wall once the season begins.

Teams across the league need time to assess their own talent and, in some cases, have made promises for an extended audition to certain players. That limits any type of big transactions and Anthopoulos said he would expect it to remain that way for at least another month.

"Any dialogue that we would have had earlier, first week or two of the season, would have been a carryover from spring," Anthopoulos said. "You always have talks at the end of spring on certain guys. But now, until I'd say the beginning of June at the earliest, no one is really motivated.

"They have their teams, they want to give everybody a chance, unless somebody gets hurt and they're out for the season for someone. But no one's really motivated, it won't really start until after the Draft."

Toronto had been linked to a lot of starting pitchers during the offseason, but didn't make a move and, in a somewhat surprising twist, that group of five has emerged as an early strength for the club. The Blue Jays entered play on Sunday having received at least five innings from their starters in 23 consecutive outings dating back to 2011.

The starters also have combined to rank fourth in the American League in ERA (3.51) and fifth in innings (133 1/3) while allowing the third-fewest hits (109).

The Blue Jays' offense is also holding its own, despite struggling during a recent three-game road trip in Baltimore by scoring a total of three runs. Toronto ranks fifth in the AL with 97 runs scored, but Anthopoulos feels there is room for improvement within his core group of nine.

The biggest addition would be a return to form by right fielder Jose Bautista. Toronto's right fielder entered play Sunday hitting just .187 with three homers and nine RBIs, while at times appearing overly aggressive at the plate.

Anthopoulos isn't concerned, though, and feels like it's a matter of when, not if, Bautista turns things around.

"I wouldn't say I'm worried, because the bat speed is still unbelievable," Anthopoulos said. "It's just timing, mechanics, he's hitting underneath balls, just off, but he's hitting some balls hard, too. The guy is so good and you know it's just the way the game is. ... If Jose's skills were eroding, that's when you have a concern, but they're not. He's in great shape; the bat speed is unbelievable.

"He's a smart player, he's going to work as hard as anybody. At some point, he's going to come out of it, but I don't know when. At some point it will click, because it's all there."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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