Toronto Blue Jays Reunion 2009

back2backThe players introduced last night were initially brought in years ago because they were a good fit for the SkyDome.

They were, for the most part, superb athletes taking advantage of the speedy turf. They played well defensively and the team pitched well enough to make the rug irrelevant.

Not like the “nine stakes on the field,” softball team approach we’ve seen run out there night after night since 2002.

Who can forget:

Robbie Alomar. Man on second, none out. Hard smash to second baseman Alomar. Runner coasts to third, only to look up and see the third baseman holding the ball. One out, man on first. Which situation do you like better?

Joe Carter. The former high school quarterback turned outfielder could throw, steal bases and hit home runs, as he did to win the 1993 World Series with a three-run blast off Mitch Williams.

Devon White. With his back to the plate, his face buried in the blue padding of the centre-field wall, the ball nestled in the centre fielder’s glove.

Tony Fernandez. Could snap or flip a throw from deep in the hole at shortstop or behind second base. Plus, he had the bat control to hit .300.

Manny Lee never hit clean-up. But he started 126 games at short in 1992 and belongs in the line of talented shortstops: Fernandez, Lee, Dick Schofield, Alex Gonzalez and Felipe Lopez. It ended with Chris Woodward in 2003 and Russ Adams.

Kelly Gruber. The third baseman had an excellent arm, hit 30 homers once, and five times had double-figure totals in stolen bases.

Ed Sprague. A strong-armed defender at third who developed into a home-run threat.

Pat Borders. He was an infielder until converting to catcher at double-A Knoxville, where he looked pretty athletic blocking balls in the dirt.

John Olerud. Effortless swing, would pull line drives to right and spray doubles down the left-field line, hitting 54 doubles in 1993 and would joke: “Some were triples.”

Dave Winfield was 40 when he arrived. But he was an athlete. We remember a Kansas City second baseman chasing down a popup in foul ground and the designated hitter, drafted in three sports, tagging and scoring from second.

Paul Molitor at DH. He stole 22 bases, finished second in the batting race behind Olerud and knocked in 111 runs.

Dave Stieb was so athletic that he was an outfielder when Bobby Mattick saw him at Southern Illinois. Check out Stieb’s numbers, arguably the best in club history.

David Cone was a fierce competitor. Cito Gaston once said he was never so relaxed as when the smooth-fielding Cone, who worked quickly and threw strikes, was on the mound.

BULLDOG FACE

Juan Guzman. After losing his first two major-league starts in 1991, the right-hander went 40-9 in his next 82, and was 5-1 in eight post-season starts.

Pat Hentgen would put on his bulldog face when he pitched — a reliever in 1992, a 19-game winner during his first year in the rotation.

Tom Henke. He made save situations exciting, but the Aqua Velva Man got the job done in tough situations.

Jimmy Key competed every night and, if an opposing team attempted to bunt, the lefty charged off the mound to often turn it into a double play.

Dave Stewart. When Key went to the New York Yankees as a free agent, the Jays signed Stewart, who brought his death stare and fastball to the rotation, winning 12, plus two more in the post-season.

Jack Morris competed every night, whether it was with his ‘A’ stuff or his D-minus arsenal. We remember him smiling after giving up a moonshot to Cecil Fielder opening day in 1992 at Tiger Stadium. He was smiling again with a complete-game, 144-pitch opening day win in 10C weather.

Duane Ward and Henke made it a seven-inning game in 1992 and the next year Ward had 45 saves.

They deserved your applause.

THE BOOK ON …

Edwin Encarnacion — Blue Jays 3B

WHAT A MAJOR LEAGUE SCOUT SAYS: “He’s still a young guy who displayed very good power.

“He needs to improve his strike zone knowledge and his defence has a long way to go, especially his throwing accuracy. He’s below average defensively.

“He’s a talented guy with a big strike zone, not as big as Raul Mondesi mind you, but it needs to be better, more disciplined, more under control.

“Edwin was born in the Dominican but he moved to Puerto Rico and was a ninth-round draft in 2000 by the Rangers.”

STRENGTHS: “He has big-time power, I’ve seen him hit some balls you would think are going to leave the area code.”

WEAKNESS: “I’ve also seen him swing at some balls he couldn’t reach with a 10-foot pole. He needs to get better with his glove.”

Season Stats

AB AVG. R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB

155 .206 11 32 7 1 5 16 1

Sun Rating: 2 out of 5

THE TOP 5

BIG WORLD SERIES PLAYS

The top five most exciting post-season moments from the Jays back-to-back World Series seasons:

1. JOE CARTER

Game 6, 1993: Rickey Henderson on second, Paul Molitor on first. One out. With the count 2-2, Carter hits the next pitch out to left. Series over.

2. ROBBIE ALOMAR

Game 4, 1992: Trailing 6-4, Devon White singles in ninth and Alomar homers to right. Jays win in extras, moving a win away from World Series.

3. ED SPRAGUE

Game 2, 1992: Down a run, George Bell draws a walk against Jeff Reardon. Sprague hits first pitch for two-run game-winning homer.

4. DEVON WHITE

Game 3, 1992: With two on in the fourth, White makes a running, back-handed catch on a David Justice hit, smashing into the wall.

5. TONY FERNANDEZ

Game 4, 1993:

The smooth Jays shortstop drives in five runs, including two in the eighth for a 15-14 win over the Phillies.

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Published in: on August 9, 2009 at 5:08 am  Leave a Comment  

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