Most of Canada is digging itself out of a deep snow fall or huddling under blankets by the fire. But it’s sunny and warm somewhere. And one of those “somewheres” is Dunedin, Florida, aka where the Blue Jays hold spring training. For the next month, the Jays will train and hold exhibition matches against other Major League Baseball teams as they get ready to return to Toronto to defend last season’s AL East title, their first in 22 years.
Even though they lost 2015’s ace pitcher David Price to the hated rival Boston Red Sox, the team has been picked by many as one of the favourites to not only win the AL East again, but to also win the World Series. Why? Here are some things to look out for as the Jays’ 2016 season looms around the corner.
Super infield returns
Toronto has one of the league’s best infields, including all-star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and reigning AL MVP third baseman Josh Donaldson. At second, defensive standout Ryan Goins is back, as is Devon Travis, who missed most of 2015 due to injury. Finally, at first base, the Jays will likely rotate between Chris Colabello and Justin Smoak.
Can Stroman be an ace?
The Jays lost two of their regular starting pitchers in David Price and Mark Buehrle. So how will they fill the holes? Well, Marco Estrada and R.A. Dickey are both back. Last year’s reliever (a pitcher who helps finish pitching a game when the starting pitcher gets tired or in trouble) Aaron Sanchez looks to be ready to become a starter now. And J.A. Happ is a new Jay who is a solid big league pitcher. But 2016 is going to be all about Marcus Stroman. The dynamite hurler stands only 5’8” (which is a little short for a pitcher these days), but he’s all heart and he wants to be the Jays new ace bad.
Bautista is back… but for how long?
Baseball is a fun game that people of all ages play… but in the big leagues, it’s also a business. Jose Bautista has been THE MAN for the Jays for years, and it’s time for him to get a new contract. He loves Toronto and Toronto loves him… but he also wants a lot of cash to stay here. Will the Jays pay up? Or will this be his last season as a Blue Jay?
Stay tuned to the OWL Connected for all your Jays’ news this season!