|TORONTO ( DICKEY )|
TAMPA BAY ( PRICE )
|917||TORONTO||+155||Ov 7,-110||+155||Ov 7,+100|
|918||TAMPA BAY||-165||Un 7,-110||-165||Un 7,-120|
|3/31/2014||DICKEY(R)||@ TAMPA BAY||PRICE(L)|| |
|4/1/2014||HUTCHISON(R)||@ TAMPA BAY||COBB(R)|| |
|4/2/2014||BUEHRLE(L)||@ TAMPA BAY||MOORE(L)|| |
|4/3/2014||MORROW(R)||@ TAMPA BAY||ARCHER(R)|| |
|4/4/2014||MCGOWAN(R)||NY YANKEES||TANAKA(R)|| |
|4/5/2014||DICKEY(R)||NY YANKEES||PINEDA(R)|| |
|4/6/2014||HUTCHISON(R)||NY YANKEES||SABATHIA(L)|| |
|4/5/2014||PRICE(L)||TEXAS|| || |
|4/7/2014|| ||@ KANSAS CITY|| || |
|TORONTO: TORONTO (AP) - All winter long, the Blue Jays' primary concern was upgrading the starting pitching. The biggest story in Toronto this spring, though, is the one about the free agent arm that got away.|
After months of inaction, the Blue Jays thought they'd landed right-hander Ervin Santana on a one-year deal in early March. But when injury concerns flared up in Atlanta, Santana signed a similar deal with the Braves instead.
''I think it's pretty obvious we were involved, it didn't work out. I'm trying to take the high road here,'' general manager Alex Anthopoulos said after Santana turned him down, saying he'd rather pitch in a spacious National League park than face AL East foes in Toronto's hitter-friendly dome.
Anthopoulos, who'd previously come ''extremely close'' to acquiring a starter through trade, must now start the season with almost the same staff he took north last year. Right-handed knuckleballer R.A. Dickey, the 2012 NL Cy Young winner, will be the opening-day starter again, while left-hander Mark Buehrle gets the third slot.
But none of the other three leading contenders, right-handers Brandon Morrow and Drew Hutchison, and left-hander J.A. Happ, have ever pitched 200 innings, and all three are coming off injuries. Morrow was limited to 10 starts last year by a nerve problem in his forearm, Hutchison hasn't pitched in the majors since elbow surgery in 2012, and Happ missed most of 2013 after being hit in the head by a line drive. Happ dimmed his own chances with an awful spring.
Santana, who has topped the 200-inning mark five times, would have given the Blue Jays valuable depth. Without him, there's more chance they'll need starts from touted but untested youngsters like Kyle Drabek, Sean Nolin, and Marcus Stroman.
Still, a confident Dickey insisted Santana would have been more ''bonus'' than ''necessity'' to Toronto. ''I feel like we have what we need,'' he said.
|TAMPA BAY: ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - The Tampa Bay Rays feel they have everything it takes to win the World Series and aren't afraid to say it.|
The budget-minded franchise that's played into October four out of the past six seasons boosted payroll instead of cutting back this winter in hopes of making another strong run for the playoffs.
''The goal is to be the team that plays the last game of the year and win,'' third baseman Evan Longoria said.
''I felt like we were really close to breaking through last year,'' the three-time AL All-Star added. ''And with the team that we have this year, I'm really excited to go out and try to prove to ourselves that we are good enough to do that.''
The Rays won 92 games a year ago, including a Game 163 tie-breaker to claim a wild-card spot, and have compiled the second-best record in baseball over the past six seasons.
That's not enough for manager Joe Maddon and a hungry collection of players who reported to spring training feeling as if there's unfinished business to tend to after losing to eventual World Series champion Boston in the AL division round.
''I love that our guys feel and think that way. I think it's great,'' Maddon said.
''You'll hear that rhetoric in a lot of clubhouses, whether it's baseball, football or basketball, but you've got to back it up. You have to really believe it. Not just say it,'' he said. ''Some groups say it because they're supposed to say it. Some groups say it because they believe it. Our guys believe it.''
That confidence was bolstered by the Rays' ability to keep most of the key components from last year's roster together, including lefty David Price, who anchors one of baseball's deepest pitching rotations.
Price and just about everybody else expected the 2012 AL Cy Young Award winner to be traded, however the Rays wound up giving him a $14 million one-year deal, in addition to re-signing first baseman James Loney and landing free agent closer Grant Balfour in moves that represent a big chunk of a club-record payroll of around $80 million.
Andrew Friedman, the team's vice president of baseball operations, also traded for catcher Ryan Hanigan and infielder Logan Forsythe to give Maddon additional flexibility filling out a batting order around Longoria and 2013 AL rookie of the year Wil Myers.
''Talent can't win every game for you, but it's a good start,'' said Loney, who signed a three-year, $21 million deal - largest since Tampa Bay has given to a free agent since Stuart Sternberg became principal owner.
''If we can stay healthy, if we can do the things we're capable of doing,'' second baseman Ben Zobrist add, ''we certainly have as good or better chance than any other team in the league to win it all.''
|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ PA SPORTSTICKER AL PREVIEW (TORONTO-TAMPA BAY) ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ |
(UPDATES with teams setting rosters)
*Blue Jays-Rays Preview* ========================
By FRED GOODALL AP Sports Writer
Toronto (0-0) at Tampa Bay (0-0), 4:10 p.m. EDT
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - The Tampa Bay Rays are launching another season with expectations of playing into October. The Toronto Blue Jays have to escape the AL East cellar before reviving talk of playoff aspirations.
The division rivals open the season Monday at Tropicana Field, with David Price and R.A. Dickey taking the mound in a matchup of 2012 Cy Young Award winners.
The Rays are coming off a year in which they won 92 games and made the playoffs for the fourth time in six seasons.
The Blue Jays (74-88) would just as soon forget 2013, when they battled injuries and finished in last place after being a popular preseason pick to contend for a championship.
Toronto failed to bolster its starting pitching this winter and returns with essentially the same lineup as a year ago, yet Dickey thinks the results will be better.
"I think the heartbeat is a lot different this year. I think, one, we're very comfortable. If I had a word to describe what (spring training) has been, it's been comfortable. Guys really know that this is a big year for us collectively," said Dickey, who was 14-13 with a 4.21 ERA last season.
"We're kind of getting a mulligan this year," the knuckleballer added. "Last year, a lot of things went wrong. This year, we're pretty much all healthy. ... We're in a much different place."
Only the Yankees, Cardinals and Phillies have earned as many postseason berths as the Rays over the past six seasons. And after hiking one of baseball's lowest payrolls above $80 million to keep most of last year's roster intact, Tampa Bay anticipates another strong run.
Price was 10-8 with a 3.33 ERA in 2013 after winning AL Cy Young honors two years ago, but he went 9-4 with a 2.53 ERA in 18 starts following the first stint of his career on the disabled list.
The 28-year-old lefty was the subject of trade speculation much of the winter before agreeing to a $14 million, one-year contract to continue anchoring one of the AL's strongest rotations.
The Rays, often overshadowed in the AL East by the big-spending Yankees and Red Sox, don't shy away from taking about how good they believe they can be.
"To be honest with you, I thought last year we had more expectations going into the season than we do this year - only because the Red Sox won the World Series and the Yankees have made some pretty big acquisitions. So, that kind of puts us in the shadows again," third baseman Evan Longoria said.
"There are a lot of expectations from within this team," he added. "But from an overall perspective, we'll probably be picked down the ladder a little bit more this year ... which is perfectly fine with me because I think we've proven time in and time out that if you believe the right things and play the right way, then the rest will take care of itself."
Toronto pursued free agent Ervin Santana in hopes of improving its rotation, but the right-hander wound up signing with Atlanta.
Meanwhile, the Blue Jays' offense has a chance to be potent if a lineup featuring Jose Reyes, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera and offseason acquisition Dioner Navarro can stay healthy.
Dickey, who had a solid spring, hopes to revert to the form that helped him capture the NL Cy Young Award with the Mets two years ago.
"I feel prepared," Dickey said. "I feel confident."
Besides not trading Price, the Rays re-signed first baseman James Loney, acquired free-agent closer Grant Balfour and traded for catcher Ryan Hanigan, reliever Heath Bell and utilityman Logan Forsythe.
Longoria is confident the maneuvering has made the Rays better. Still, he stops short of predicting another playoff berth.
"Even when we were the favorites, I would say maybe we are on paper," the three-time All-Star said. "We should have that underdog mentality."
The teams set their rosters Sunday, with the Rays placing injured pitchers Jeremy Hellickson and Juan Carlos Oviedo and shortstop Tim Beckham on the 15-day disabled list.
The Blue Jays put closer Casey Janssen on the DL due to a strain in his left abdominal area and lower back. Backup catcher Erik Kratz was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.
|Last Updated: 9/15/2014 9:53:42 PM EST|