* CF Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.) hopes to see a lot of first base coach Tim Leiper next season. The Oakville Royals grad who played for coaches Mike Siena, Mike Swinton, Derek Rothwell and Jason Booth was making an impression in the Arizona Fall League as Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos sung his praises at the GMs meetings.
By Bob Elliott
PHOENIX _ It’s 15 miles from the Arizona Biltmore resort to Cubs Park in Mesa where the Mesa Solar Sox played on Tuesday.
The distance between the major league setting at the annual general managers meetings and a group of double-A Arizona Fall League prospects might seem like light years apart.
Not for Mississauga outfielder Dalton Pompey, whose ears must have been burning.
The Blue Jays don’t have two outfield openings.
They have one. Colby Rasmus lost his job last year making one September start.
He was asked if Pompey could win the job for as a switch hitter Pompey would not need to platoon with anyone.
“He could, he’s an above average defender, we’d like to see him tighten up his game — come over the top with his throws rather than to the side,” said Anthopoulos. “We’re not going to make a decision on his spring stats.
“He needs to have quality at-bats, he has to grind at-bats. We think more extra-base power will come as he fills out. And he has to have a knowledge of the strike zone.”
Pompey, who turns 22 in a month, began last season at class-A Dunedin and the Oakville Royals grad raced through the minors to the Rogers Centre hitting .231 with a double, two triples and a homer in 17 games.
Hitting coach? The Blue Jays are talking to Brook Jacoby for their vacant hitting instructor position.
Jacoby served as the assistant hitting coordinator with the Texas Rangers after serving as seven seasons as the hitting coach for the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds offense had the second-highest on-base percentage and the third-highest run total in the National League in 2013. He was an all-star third baseman playing 11 seasons in the majors with the Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves and Oakland A’s.
Plan B? If the Blue Jays plans to upgrade their catching by signing free-agent Russell Martin fall through, could they turn to Miami Marlins and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, who is available? Saltalamacchia won a World Series with the 2013 Boston Red Sox and signed a three-year $21 million US deal with the Miami Marlins. His first year in south Florida didn’t go well.
Saltalamacchia, 29, hit .220 with 11 homers, 44 RBIs and a .681 OPS this season. He earns $7 million in 2015 and $8 million in 2016.
Saunders watch: There has been plenty of end-of-season angst from Seattle Mariners management directed towards outfielder Michael Saunders and subsequent trade talk.
“If we open the season tomorrow, Michael Saunders is out right fielder,” said M’s GM Jack Zduriencik. “A lot of what has been said was blown out of proportion.”
The Jays and Seattle had talks this season on Saunders, since both left fielder Melky Cabrera and centre fielder Rasmus are free agents. The Jays have interest in bringing Cabrera back.
“We get people calling all the time on our players,” said Zduriencik. “He shows flashes. The fact is he is our player and he has two years of control.”
Victor watch: The Blue Jays have been mentioned as a possible destination for free-agent DH Victor Martinez. What about the Tigers where he led the AL in getting on-base (.409) and in OPS (.974) hit 33 doubles, 32 homers and knocked in 103 runs.
“We’re interested in Victor,” said Tigers president Dave Dombrowski. “I’d have to look at my list but I can think of a lot of other teams who are interested.”
Dombrowski said that the Tigers did not discuss a long-term deal with Martinez during the season.
Hunter said during the AL Division Series against the Baltimore Orioles he was uncertain of playing in 2015. The Tigers boss said Hunter will play.
O’s winner: Dan Duquette, Balitmore Orioles GM, was named executive of the year by The Sporting News.
Duquette edged Royals GM Dayton Moore in the balloting of 33 MLB executives, 9-8. Duquette had previously won in 1992 as GM of the Montreal Expos.
Copeland, who turns 27 next month will get an invite to big-league camp in Dunedin.
This season he was 11-9 with a .344 in 31 games — 26 starts — at double-A New Hampshire and triple-A Buffalo. He walked 55 and struck out 105 in 164 2/3 innings.
Korecky, 35, (5-3, 1.97, 22-for-24 in saves) was the Buffalo Bisons Most Valuable Pitcher.
Bibens-Dirkx, 29 (6-4, 3.26) split the season between New Hampshire and Buffalo.
Lee (10-7, 3.93) was at double-A Mobile and triple-A Reno in the Arizona Diamondbacks system and New Hampshire.