Former ace Halladay is gone, but Blue Jays have plenty of arms at spring camp – Metro US

Former ace Halladay is gone, but Blue Jays have plenty of arms at spring camp

DUNEDIN, Fla. – Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston surveyed the field Monday, as Blue Jays pitchers and catchers began their first official spring training workout

“We’ve got so many pitchers here we need names on their back,” he said.

There are 37 of them, including 10 non-roster players invited to training camp and two on the disabled list.

“It’s going to take a while to get to know them,” Gaston said.

But the impact player may be the one who isn’t here: Roy Halladay.

Toronto’s former ace was traded to Philadelphia after last season for three minor leaguers – catcher Travis d’Arnaud, first baseman Brett Wallace and pitcher Kyle Drabek, son of 13-year veteran pitcher and 1990 National League Cy Young Award winner Doug Drabek. None is expected to make the Blue Jays’ roster this season.

The principal candidates for the No. 1 spot in the rotation are left-hander Ricky Romero, 13-9 as a rookie last year, and right-hander Shaun Marcum, 24-17 in four seasons before sitting out 2009 following shoulder surgery.

“Who’s my No. 1? Who’s my No. 2?” Gaston said. “You talk about two guys. We hope their arms are OK but you don’t know until they start pitching in competition.”

One benefit, so to speak, of Halladay’s departure is added flexibility with the starters.

“We don’t have Doc anymore,” Gaston said. “We had to keep him on his rotation (starting every fifth day). That’s the way Doc wanted it.

“You don’t really have to do it with these guys. So guys won’t pitch as many innings. We’ll just bag ’em up and keep going. If it’s Ricky’s turn to pitch and Marcum’s pitching better, then we’ll start Marcum.”

Gaston said Brian Tallet and Brandon Morrow deserve a shot at a spot in the rotation. Each split last season as a starter and reliever, Tallet with the Jays and Morrow with Seattle.

Potentially in the running, too, are Dustin McGowan, who had shoulder and knee surgery during the 2009 season and has just returned to pitching. He lives in the Tampa Bay area and spent last season in rehab at the Blue Jays’ training camp. He is out of options so the team can’t send him to the minors without exposing him to waivers.

“I hope he starts the season (on the roster),” Gaston said. He’s been down here a long time. He’s probably sick of Florida by now. If he’s ready to go, we’re not going to delay it (by putting him on the disabled list) unless it’s going to make him healthier.

“It’s going to be tough to nail down four and five (in the rotation). If you look at the candidates we have, we’re not going to forget about (Brett) Cecil and (Marc) Rzepczynski,” Gaston said.

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