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JEFF BLAIR

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Colby Rasmus was taken aback by the suggestion his first Toronto Blue Jays hit and then his first run batted in signalled he was now part of the team.

He was part of a win before Sunday’s 7-3 defeat of the Texas Rangers, even though he hadn’t “done all that much.” Truth is, this is the week he becomes a Blue Jay. Most likely, it started on the teams chartered flight to Tampa. Most likely, it will continue with lunch or dinner or maybe some après-ski with teammates either in Tampa or Baltimore. Most likely, J.P. Arencibia will be part of it.

See, this is how it works in baseball: Arencibia, the Blue Jays catcher, is from the Miami area and so is St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jon Jay. They work out in the off-season, and Arencibia said Sunday he and Jay had spoken about Rasmus, who was acquired by the Blue Jays on Wednesday in a three-team, 14-player trade that continued this past weekend to be marked by bitterness. Arencibia and Jay spoke about Rasmus earlier this season when the Blue Jays were in St. Louis for an inter-league series. Jay’s report?

“Just a great kid who everybody knows has unbelievable athletic ability – through the roof,” said Arencibia.

The standing ovations were largely reserved for the retirement of Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar’s number on Sunday. But Rasmus also received loud ovations: first, when he snapped an 0-for-13 streak as a Blue Jays player with a third-inning, opposite-field single on which he took second after an error by Rangers left-fielder Josh Hamilton; then after an RBI double to centre in the fourth.

The non-waiver trade deadline passed at 4 p.m. Sunday, and beyond figuring in rumours surrounding pitchers Ubaldo Jimenez and Wandy Rodriguez and Colorado Rockies catcher Chris Iannetta, in the end it was Wednesday’s acquisition of Rasmus that stood as the Blue Jays’ move.

Rasmus still had a bewildered look about him after the game. It was, he said, “cool” to be part of what had gone on but it was clear from the manner in which he talked about wanting to make a good first impression that he was still trying to figure it all out. That, of course, doesn’t make him a bad guy. It does make him a 24-year-old baseball player who is still trying to decipher whether the trade means he was unwanted by the Cardinals as much as wanted by the Blue Jays.

“He has seemed more relaxed the past day or so,” said manager John Farrell. “That swing on the 3-2 pitch was classic. It was good to see him get his feet under him.”

The lashing Rasmus’s father, Tony, delivered to the Cardinals and manager Tony La Russa is still a topic of conversation in St. Louis, with former Cardinals player Andy Van Slyke taking his whacks this weekend in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “How can you be happy being traded from the St Louis Cardinals? It’s the most nonsensical thing I could ever imagine … he’s going from a potential playoff team to a team that hasn’t won anything in 20 years. If he stays where he is emotionally, he’s going to be the same player he is right how. His whole game is derived from emotion. He doesn’t use his intellectual mind; he uses his emotional mind. No wonder he’s never performed the way he should have.

“He and his father think he’s still playing in high school … he continues to throw the ball to the wrong base and not break up double plays. You can’t do those things at the big-league level. It’s up to the Toronto organization to keep him accountable, like Tony [La Russa] and his coaches tried to do.”

Rasmus said he has noticed that Toronto is “definitely, a different environment. It’s less pressure-packed.” That No. 12 over his left shoulder, hanging down from the Rogers-Centre rafters, ought to serve as a reminder it was not always the case.

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