By Cindy McKenney
The Toronto Blue Jays will try to avoid being swept by the Indians on Thursday when Mark Buehrle takes to the mound to face newcomer Brett Myers. After that, the team will take on division rivals Boston Red Sox at home over the weekend.
The Jays have already played two home games this week, kicking off their most highly anticipated season in twenty years on Tuesday night after a busy off-season.
General Manager Alex Anthopolous had a busy winter, bringing some of the most talked about players in MLB to the city. Knuckleballer and Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey, all-star shortstop Jose Reyes, and controversial outfielder Melky Cabrera joined the team in a series of blockbuster trades in December.
Anthopolous told Maclean’s magazine that the moves – while expensive – were made with long-term goals in mind.
“If you look at this roster overall, everyone is under contract, other than [starting pitcher] Josh Johnson, for the next three to five years,” he said. “So no matter what happens, this is not a team built for one year. It’s built for quite a few years.”
The off-season also saw the demotion of starting pitcher Ricky Romero who was competing for the fifth and final spot in the starting rotation.
The Jays optioned the pitcher to Class-A Dunedin at the end of March to continue working on delivery flaws that have continued to plague him.
Fans were also disappointed to learn the team would be without energetic third baseman Brett Lawrie. The Langley, B.C., native is on the fifteen-day disabled list with a strained left rib cage.
“I wish that I could say I’m going to be ready on this day, but I can’t go as hard as I want to go out on the field until it feels like my other side,” Lawrie told CBC Sports. “I want to make sure that when I go back out there to play it’s to stay out there. It’s not go out there and test it. I just don’t want that hanging over me, I don’t like that in my head the thought that it could get worse.”
All the moves created a lot of buzz and hype for fans who anxiously waited for opening night to see the new starting lineup in action.
But, the Blue Birds lost their home opener 4 to 1 against the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday night.
They also lost 3 to 2 to the Tribe on Wednesday night. Fan favourite Jose Bautista blasted a solo home run in the ninth inning that would force the game into extra innings but Cleveland’s Mark Reynolds hit a solo shot of his own in the eleventh inning to lift the Indians to the victory.
The Score’s baseball reporter Drew Fairservice spoke with At Humber Tuesday and said Blue Jays fans should be cautious about getting swept up in the hype.
“Losses are inevitable, but it’s no reason to jump ship,” he said.
The team had a less than impressive Spring Training record, going 16-17-1, but Fairservice said this is nothing to be concerned about.
“Spring Training means less than nothing,” he said. “They’re barely real games. They change the rules; the starters only play a couple of innings. Last year, they were unbeatable in Spring Training and then we saw what happened. There should be no worries about how Spring Training went this year. It’s a long season.”
Even with the new starting lineup, the road to the playoffs is not going to be an easy one for the team.
Andrew Stoten writes a blog called Drunk Jays Fans and he told Humber News on Tuesday there are a lot of great teams across the American League East, which will make the season interesting for the Jays.
“I think a lot of fans are hopeful they’re going to be able to play October baseball and go a long way in the playoffs but it’s not going to be easy. There’s really good teams in Tampa and even Boston, Balitmore, and New York,” he said.