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DUNEDIN, Florida – If Jose Bautista ends the season on the baseball field, itll mark the first time since 2011 but the Blue Jays slugger bristles at the suggestion he isnt a durable ballplayer. "Its not because I was neglecting my training regime or anything like that," Bautista said of his injuries. "It is disappointing and it is upsetting that I dont get to go out there and finish the season with the team and finish strong. Thats been the case in the last two years so hopefully it doesnt happen again." Bautista tore the tendon sheath in his wrist while taking a swing in a game at Yankee Stadium on July 16, 2012. The injury essentially cost him the remainder of the season, save for five plate appearances over two games in late August. Last year, Bautista jammed his hip while running the bases in July. He played with pain for about a month and then removed himself from a game at Yankee Stadium on August 20. He wouldnt set foot on the field for the rest of the year. Bautista continues to hit home runs at a prodigious pace. He went deep on 6.2 per cent of his at-bats in 2013, a trend that has steadily declined since his career-high 54 home run breakout season in 2010 (8.4 per cent in 2011, 8.1 per cent in 2012) when he rounded the bases in 9.5 per cent of his at-bats. Considering he was recovering from serious wrist surgery, a body part that when injured can sap sluggers of their power, his numbers remain impressive. The 33-year-old describes as "great" his just-getting-to-know-you relationship with new hitting coach Kevin Seitzer. The two have spoken briefly in Dunedin and had a couple of phone conversations during the offseason. Broadly put, Seitzers modus operandi is to encourage his hitters to use the entire field. Bautista is among a number of Jays, Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus included, who are almost dead pull hitters. "You just watch the way they throw the shift on him," said manager John Gibbons. "They leave some big holes (on the right side) for him. There are some cheap RBIs that way. I mean, the way I look at it, you get 500 at-bats in a season and say you hit 50 home runs, which is an unbelievable year. Thats still a lot of at-bats without home runs. If youre more of a complete hitter and youll take some hits (to the right side) to get a rally going or drive in a big run or something, that can only help." Leadership and its role on a baseball team continue to be topics of debate among those who follow the game closely. The consensus amongst players is that winning breeds camaraderie, something directly reflected in the success of last years world champion Boston Red Sox. The Jays buried themselves with a 10-17 April last season, injuries mounted and not even an 11-game winning streak in June could salvage the year. As a result, the clubhouse, while it didnt have any crippling divisions, wasnt a tight-knit unit. Players on winning teams, with something to play for, may be more willing to push a single through the opposite side to score a run instead of being concerned primarily with their own stats. "I think if everybody does as well as theyre capable of doing, with some leadership – and hopefully I get to help out in that area – I think we can be a much better team than we were last year and a closer team than we showed last year that we were," said Bautista. The slugger doesnt share fans angst over Torontos relatively quiet offseason. "Not at all," said Bautista. "I think we have a good group of guys. Were very competitive. Were really talented and I think if we remain healthy and everybody plays up to their capabilities, nobody needs to go do anything outstanding or hit 60 home runs or have a sub-1.00 ERA, we just need to play up to our capabilities." Pitching Depth The Blue Jays announced on Friday theyve claimed RHP Liam Hendriks off waivers from Baltimore. To make room for Hendriks on the 40-man roster, the team designated infielder Brent Morel for assignment. Hendriks, 25, was born and raised in Perth, Australia. Hes struggled in limited big league action over three seasons, all with Minnesota, compiling a record of 2-13, an ERA of 6.06 and a WHIP of 1.590. Morel is a former third round pick of the White Sox, selected off waivers from Chicago on December 23. A right-handed bat, there was thought that Morel would compete for a job off the bench. Understanding the Business Reliever Neil Wagner, 30, is caught in the middle of a numbers game and he knows it. "Taken in the 21st round in the middle of nowhere, youre forced to prove yourself and thats how Ive done it my whole career," said Wagner. "I plan on doing that in camp as well." The Blue Jays will consider going with an eight-man bullpen out of camp but that still wont guarantee Wagner a big league job. Casey Janssen, Sergio Santos, Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup and Steve Delabar are guaranteed spots. Dustin McGowan will be stretched out this spring but it seems more likely he will be a reliever. Wagner has an option remaining, whereas Jeremy Jeffress, Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond do not, which doesnt bode well for his chances to make the team. "They havent told me anything," said Wagner. "Im expecting that Ill be here until Im not. I plan on going out and pitching well and pitching my way onto the team and if things dont work out that way, then Ill go down to Buffalo and do the same thing." Wagner has a live arm, his fastball routinely clocking in the mid to high 90s and can touch 100 miles per hour. He allowed only one run, earned, in his first 12 appearances with the Blue Jays last season. He ended the season with a 3.79 ERA over 36 appearances, striking out 7.8 batters over nine innings while walking 3.1 hitters per nine innings. He had a 1.368 WHIP over what, to this point, was his longest stint in the majors. "I feel like I proved that I can pitch at the big league level but in this game, nothing is given to you, nothings owed to you, so anything could happen at any time and Im perfectly okay with that." Nickeas Cant Lose Catcher Mike Nickeas kept an eye on the Canada-USA semi-final hockey game in Sochi. "Im a winner today, either way," he joked in passing. Nickeas was born in Vancouver in 1983, while his father, whos English, was playing for the Vancouver Whitecaps of the now-defunct North American Soccer League. His mother is American and Nickeas grew up in California, which explains his allegiances to both sides. Guess is hell be cheering for Canada in Sundays gold medal game against Sweden. Gibbons Talks Haircuts Manager John Gibbons, himself sporting a new, shorter haircut this spring, didnt appreciate my efforts to update my do. "It looks like a ducks ass," Gibbons joked before starting his daily scrum with the media. Well, I cant change the haircut now. My pride wont allow it. Football Jerseys Throwback Outlet .C. - Goodyear has warned teams that increased speeds at Charlotte Motor Speedway will put a heavy emphasis on the right front tires in Saturday nights race a€” a potentially key development for drivers trying to advance in the Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship. Stitched Football Jerseys Throwback . Born in Berkeley and raised in Oakland, where he later pitched for the As, Ross beat the Giants for the first time in six career appearances by throwing eight scoreless innings to lead the San Diego Padres to a 2-1 victory Friday night. http://www.cheapfootballthrowback.com/. -- J.R. Sweezy was the one part of the Seattle Seahawks offensive line that had avoided injuries or having to change positions this season. Custom Football Jerseys Throwback . Wheeler scored two goals, including the winner, as the Winnipeg Jets beat the Minnesota Wild 6-4 on Friday in a game that featured a seven-goal first period. Wholesale Football Jerseys Throwback . - Chris Davis hit a two-run double, scoring Nelson Cruz in his Orioles debut in Baltimores 9-7 win over to the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.Detroit Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera and Los Angeles Angels centerfielder Mike Trout are once again set to go head-to-head in Major League Baseballs year-end awards. The Baseball Writers Association of America announced its finalists for its four top awards on Tuesday night, including Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year and the Cy Young Award in both the American and National Leagues. Trout and Cabrera – who were hotly-debated MVP candidates in 2012 – were once again announced as finalists for AL MVP alongside Baltimore Orioles first-baseman Chris Davis. Davis led the majors in home runs (53) and runs batted-in (138), while Cabrera led the majors in batting average (.348) and finished second in the other two Triple Crown categories with 44 homers and 137 RBI. Trout led the AL in runs scored (109) and finished third in average (.323). In the NL the finalists for MVP included Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen, Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina. Goldschmidt led the NL in RBI (125) and tied for the league lead in home runs (36) in addition to winning a Gold Glove. McCutchen finished top-10 in the NL in average (.317), steals (27), runs scored (97) and OPS (.911). Molina won his sixth-straight Gold Glove behind the plate and led all NL catchers in hits (161), doubles (44), average (.319) and OPS (.836). Tigers starter Max Scherzer headlines the AL Cy Young ballot, where he is joined by Japanese imports Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers and Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners. Scherzer won an MLB-leading 21 games and finished top five in strikeouts (240) and earned-run average (2.90). Darvish led the majors in strikeouts by a healthy margin with 277 and posted an AL top-five ERA (2.83). Iwakumas 2.66 ERA was third-best in the AL in addition to a 1.01 WHIP. Clayton Kershaw is up for the NL Cy Young for a third-straight year.dddddddddddd Hes joined on the ballot by Miami Marlins rookie Jose Fernandez and St. Louis Cardinals vet Adam Wainwright. Kershaw – who won the 2011 Award and finished runner-up to R.A. Dickey in 2012 – had an MLB-best ERA (1.83) and WHIP (0.92) as well as leading the NL in strikeouts (232) and tying for third in wins (16). Wainwright won an NL-best 19 as well as finishing third in strikeouts (219). Fernandez finished top-three in ERA (2.19) and WHIP (0.98) while holding opponents to an MLB-low .182 average. Fernandez highlights the NL Rookie of the Year crop, but is also joined by Dodgers phenom Yasiel Puig and Cardinals starter Shelby Miller. Puig set the league on fire with his early summer debut racking up 122 hits, 19 homers and 11 steals in just 104 games, with an MLB rookie-best average of .319. Miller posted a 15-9 record for the NL-champion Cards, logging 173.1 innings. Tampa Bay Rays teammates Wil Myers and Chris Archer are finalists for the AL Rookie of the Year along with Tigers infielder Jose Iglesias. Myers led AL rookies in doubles (23) and RBI (53), while Archer logged the second-most innings among AL rookie starters (128.2) posting a sparkling 1.13 WHIP. Archer Iglesias hit .303 in 109 games for the Tigers. John Farrells worst-to-first tactics in Boston have him nominated for AL Manager of the Year alongside fellow rookie skipper Terry Francona and the Oakland As Bob Melvin. Clint Hurdle, who led the Pittsburgh Pirates to their first playoff berth since 1992, headlines the NL Manager of the Year candidates alongside Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and the Braves Fredi Gonzalez. The Awards will be handed out next week, starting with the Rookie of the Year Awards on Nov. 11. One set of awards will be announced per day with Manager of the Year on Nov. 12, Cy Young on Nov. 13 and MVP on Nov. 14. ' ' '


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