Six rookies stack Blue Jays lineup

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 * There isn’t any shortage of rookies with the Blue Jays this season. They have six in all, led by 2B Devon Travis, along with CF Dalton Pompey (Mississauga, Ont.), LHP Daniel Norris, RHP Aaron Sanchez, RP Miguel Castro and RP Roberto Osuna. ….

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By Bob Elliott

BALTIMORE _ General manager Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t see what the big deal is about having six rookies on his team.

“It’s not like we kept people that had shaky springs,” Anthopoulos said before the Your Toronto Blue Jays played the fifth game of the season against the Baltimore Orioles Saturday night.

“These guys are here right now, but the numbers are … roughly 80% of major leaguers are sent down the first three years of their careers.”

Rookie Aaron Sanchez, who dominated as a bullpen guy in 2014, made his debut Saturday allowing three runs on seven hits and two walks in 3 1/3 innings in a 7-0 loss.

Lefty Daniel Norris won his first start at Yankee Stadium.

The Jays balanced attack features two rookies in the rotation, two in the every day lineup — second baseman Devon Travis (a .313 average after four games) and centre fielder Dalton Pompey (.111) and two 20-year-olds in the bullpen — Miguel Castro and Roberto Osuna — two scoreless appearances each.

“Norris had a great year last season in the minors. What were we supposed to do? Send him to Buffalo so he could set strike out records?” Anthopoulos said. “Travis should have been at triple-A last year but the Detroit Tigers had two guys ahead of him.

“Pompey and Osuna went to the Arizona Fall League … like Drew Hutchison did the year before he made our rotation.”

Yet, can you name me the last time a contender had six young uns as the Jays do?

The game as old as is, is not that easy.

Especially when you are young.

And still, if not for a blown save on Wednesday, the Jays could have been 4-1.

The legendary slugger Carlos Delgado had more homers than singles on April 27, 1994 (8-to-7).

And by the first week of June he was at triple-A Syracuse with the likes of Howard Battle, Willie Canate, Domingo Cedeno, Jack Daugherty, Ray Giannelli, Robert Perez, Marty Pevey, Eddie Zosky, Shawn Green and Alex Gonzalez.
Delgado returned … as did Green and Gonzalez.

It’s early as we’ve been told once or twice.

But we have a few others when-was-the-last-time questions for those of you scoring along, watching or listening at home.

Like …. when do you remember?

A Jays catcher throwing out two runners in the same series. Russell Martin altered two innings in New York throwing out speedy Jacoby Ellsbury and Didi Gregorius?

The Jays scoring 12 runs without benefit of a homer, as they did Friday?

The Jays hitting the ball the other way, away from the defensive shift: Jose Bautista’s two-run single to right, Dioner Navarro’s two-run double to left batting left-handed at Camden Yards; Martin’s two-run single to right, Encarnacion’s single to right in New York … to mention a few?

Hitting coach Brook Jacoby, the Jays fourth in four seasons, has seen some early, pleasing results, besides the eight doubles on Friday.

“I’ve seen a lot of unselfish at bats,” Jacoby said.

Like Encarnacion being 0-2 against Bud Norris, battling back to hit a 2-2 pitch on the ground to get Bautista to third. Half the dugout congratulated Encarnacion on moving the runner over. And before everyone returned to their seats Josh Donaldson had hit a fly ball to score Bautista and give the Jays a 5-1, third-inning lead.

Without Encarnacion’s productive out, there isn’t an RBI for Donaldson.

“Early on some of our big guys weren’t in a groove yet, the bottom of the order was doing the job,” Jacoby said. “For me Jose Reyes is our ignitor. He took a couple of called strikes down in the zone, made them bring the ball up and had three hits (Friday). He has such quick hands.”

Jacoby is constantly talking to hitters in the dugout explaining when to look for a back-up slider, telling his young hitter “not to take at-bats off,” no matter the score.

“Doesn’t matter if we’re ahead or way behind, we can’t give up at-bats, if we’re behind we have to chip away make it close, get their closer in the game — so he might not be able to pitch the next night,” Jacoby said.

Jacoby declines to pick the most impressive hitter to date but said how he likes what he’s seen from second baseman Travis standing in to turn double plays as Yankee and Orioles runners bear down on him.

The Jays entered the fifth game of the season ninth in the American League with three home runs. But they sit fourth with a team average of .271.

Jacoby was the hitting coach with the Cincinnati Reds for seven seasons making post-season play in 2010, 2012 and 2013 under manager Dusty Baker. And he was Joey Votto’s hitting coach when the Etobicoke slugger won the National League MVP in 2010.

“Joey was so far advanced mentally that some times I’d see other hitters talk to him and they would not understand,” Jacoby said.

As starts go, this was the rockiest by a Jays starter.

Alejandro de Aza hit the second pitch from Sanchez for a solo homer.

Five pitches later Chris Davis took Sanchez deep.

As we’ve been told.

It’s early.

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