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Notapor lw789 » Mié Jun 27, 2018 8:07 am

DUNEDIN, Florida - Whether the approach translates to on-field success will only be revealed with the passage of time but its obvious to those whove been around the first two weeks of camp: the 2014 Blue Jays, constructed and built to win beginning in 2013, have no intention of repeating the misery that befell the ballclub a season ago. The attitude is all business. One of the major pieces of the clubs puzzle knows it ought to be, given whats happened and what could happen if Torontos fortunes dont turn around. "I think guys are singularly focused on trying to get the most out of what we have collectively here," knuckleballer R.A. Dickey told TSN.ca. "I think last year we were kind of handcuffed a little bit by a few different variables but this year guys are together and they know its basically we need to make this work or it could all get blown up. "We know that and we dont want that to happen so guys are focused." Theres been no speech alluding to a closing window of opportunity but the veteran players, all too familiar with the business of baseball, sense that after falling flat in the season after club ownership increased payroll by some $40-million, another failed year wont be tolerated. You can have one bad year as a group. A second consecutive down season and the "this team cant get it done" narrative cements itself in reality. Dickey, himself, is looking for a bounce back season. The trend is positive, dating back to last year. In 20 first half (pre-All Star Break) starts, Dickey was 8-10 with a 4.69 ERA, 20 home runs allowed and a strikeout to walk ratio of less than two-to-one. He threw 128 2/3 innings, averaging a little more than 6 1/3 per start. After the break, in 14 starts, Dickey went 6-3, 3.56, 15 home runs allowed and stuck out more than three-and-a-half hitters for every walk. Dickeys 96 second half innings work out to almost seven per start. While still prone to the long ball, everything else improved, including his health. Dickey pitched through a strained muscle in his neck, something that began in spring training but by mid-April had mushroomed into a pain that forced him to consider a stint on the disabled list. "You know how things progress," said Dickey. "It starts as something very mild and you just keep going on and thinking its probably going to go away and then something happens and it gets much more significant. It had been there in the spring. When everything gets cranked back up some things arent necessarily in the right places yet." There are no such concerns now. "Physically, Im stronger," said Dickey. Mentally, Dickeys refreshed. The trade to Toronto wasnt the only matter on his plate last offseason. He was promoting his book, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, working with child sex victims in Mumbai and by the time camp started, was being followed by a reporter and camera crew from 60 Minutes. Aside from a fundraiser in New York City and a family vacation to Florida, Dickey had a much quieter winter this year. "That was intentional," said Dickey. "Anne and I both felt like it was a season to be at home together. With the year before, with the trade and the book and India and the Cy Young and all of that, just really spread me very thin. Having a good mate, she realized that was one of the things that should probably change this offseason and she was right." When its pointed out to Dickey that the American League East likely will be stronger this year than last - the Red Sox are the defending World Series champions, the Rays have great starting pitching, the Orioles added pitching in support of a potent offense and the Yankees retooled - the knuckleballer acknowledged the Blue Jays will need a diamond in the rough, maybe more than one, to emerge. "I think that every championship club has to have a guy on the team that you dont expect a ton out of that steps up and does something special for you," said Dickey. "Whether its a position player or a pitcher, in our case I think the hope is theres going to be a pitcher that steps up and gives you something that you werent anticipating and its going to lift you into the next place." Drew Hutchison could be the guy, based on early camp returns. "I think Drews a name," Dickey concurred. "I think Todd Redmonds a name. There are others in this clubhouse that I think, by the end of the year, well have a conversation about this day and youll say, Yeah, that was the guy that you were talking about and heres what happened. Thats the hope. Thats what were hopeful for." JAYS HAMMERED BY TWINS The Blue Jays longest spring trip, not including two games in Montreal later this month, got out of hand early and finished with a 12-2 drubbing at the hands of the Twins in Lee County, near Fort Myers. J.A. Happ struggled badly, retiring one of only seven hitters he faced. He allowed four runs on two hits, walking four in a third of an inning of work. The game was the first played under MLBs new replay rules. In the sixth inning, manager John Gibbons challenged a close play at first base in which the Twins Chris Rahl was ruled safe when shortstop Munenori Kawasakis high throw brought first baseman Jared Goedert off the bag. After a review lasting more than two and a half minutes, the umpires upheld the call on the field. DELABARS BEARD While it isnt yet long enough or messy enough to be mistaken for the facial hair you see on Duck Dynasty, Steve Delabar is committed to the beard hes wearing in camp. Where this odyssey will take him, he doesnt know. "No plan," said Delabar. "Its not a bother to me. It doesnt itch. It doesnt get in my way. I get good comments from it." He wouldnt be the first late-game reliever to create a specific look but Delabar, typically low-key and easy going, isnt trying to strike fear in opposing hitters. This was a concoction for the hunting season. "Its not an intimidation thing at all," said Delabar. "I started growing it in the offseason, Ive trimmed it a couple of times and Im just letting it go." There will be no dying his facial hair, like Brian Wilson of the Dodgers. Itll have its natural tinges of red, white and brown. "Its going to become what it becomes on its own and Im going to let it do what it does," said Delabar. What about his wife, Jamie? Is she agreeable to all of this? "My wife tells me Ive got stuff hanging off of it all the time but its not intentional. "She puts up with it," Delabar continued. "Its not like, Ooh, I like the beard, its not like that. Shed rather me trim it and have it groomed nicely and keep it clean but that aint me." Frank Ragnow Jersey . 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"Its a humongous number, so the first reaction is it makes you step back a little bit," said NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah, a former scout with the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Your turn, Josh Freeman. Freeman was named the latest starting quarterback for the scuffling Minnesota Vikings on Wednesday. Freemans second week with the team will culminate on Monday night with him leading the offence against the New York Giants. "It really hasnt been that difficult. Any time you step into a situation where youre the new guy, theres always kind of an awkward getting-to-know-you phase," Freeman said. "But I think that goes back to the character of this organization just from top to bottom: a lot of quality people that are dedicated to winning first and foremost but also being quality human beings off the field. So its been a smooth adjustment." Coach Leslie Frazier also said that Christian Ponder will be the backup, not Matt Cassel, assuming Freeman makes it through the week without problems. "I like the things hes done in his career, along with what hes done since he arrived here with our football team, the time he put in, how well hes adapted to our system," Frazier said. "Hes done enough for us to say we want to give him this opportunity, which is something we had in mind when we acquired him. I think now is the time." Freeman will be the third starter in the last four games for the Vikings (1-4) and the 11th since Daunte Culpeppers season-ending knee injury in 2005. Freeman was cut by Tampa Bay on Oct. 3 and signed by Minnesota to a one-year contract five days later. "Were just going to make plays for whoevers in there and just make it as easy as possible," wide receiver Jerome Simpson said. Freeman started 59 games over four-plus seasons with the Buccaneers. The 25-year-old former first-round draft pick threw for 25 touchdowns and just six interceptions in 2010, his first full season as a starter, but has been up and down since. The Vikings were on the wrong end of one of his best games last year, a 36-17 victory at Minnesota when he passed for 262 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. "The underlying questions Ive been getting from a lot of people: Do I have a chip on my shoulder? Im sure I do," Freeman said. &quoot;But I think its more deeply rooted than just the past six months, 12 months.dddddddddddd" Frazier said he was impressed by Freemans first practice with the team. "From the moment he stepped in the building, he wanted to learn. And the way he handled himself in that practice, it changed my mindset about the possibilities," Frazier said. "We had a timeframe in mind originally but watching what he did from the day he arrived, that cemented it for me that sooner was a possibility." Frazier said he hasnt considered a scenario in which Ponder wouldnt still be on the roster for the rest of the season. Ponder said he wasnt sure about his future here. The trade deadline is Oct. 29. Hes under contract with the Vikings through at least 2014. "I have to figure out whats best for me and everything and for this team. I dont know if thats staying here and going somewhere else," Ponder said. Ponder started the first three games until he broke a rib. Cassel took over and led the Vikings to their only victory. Frazier said he preferred to keep the factors in his decision to put Ponder ahead of Cassel on the depth chart private. The coach also said he had full authority to make Freeman the starter. He acknowledged, though, that owners Zygi Wilf and Mark Wilf and general manager Rick Spielman were consulted. "When youre talking about the quarterback position, which affects your entire franchise, this is not a decision you make alone," Frazier said. Running back Adrian Peterson was missing from practice because of a personal matter. Frazier said he expected him back on Thursday. The coach declined to specify whether his absence was related to the situation in South Dakota regarding his 2-year-old son, who died last week by alleged abuse. A man is in custody in South Dakota. Safety Harrison Smith was also not present for the beginning of practice reporters were allowed to watch. With the game on Monday this week, the Vikings arent required to produce an injury report until Thursday. Smith suffered a turf toe injury to his left foot on Sunday. Frazier said hed provide an update on Thursday. Discount Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Online Jerseys NFL China Wholesale Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Womens Jerseys Cheap Jerseys Free Shipping China Jerseys Cheap ' ' '
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