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The Toronto Blue Jays quietly worked out two Cuban defectors last week at their training facility in the Dominican Republic. Pitcher Noel Arguelles and shortstop Jose Iglesias defected from the Cuban team at the world junior baseball tournament in Edmonton last July. A source said the Blue Jays have serious interest in signing both players.

Left-hander Brett Cecil, the Blue Jays' top pitching prospect, gave up a home run to New York Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner on his second pitch of the Grapefruit League yesterday, but most everybody seemed happy with his four-strikeout, one-hit, one-walk outing. "[Derek]Jeter was the next guy up, so the home run was the last of my worries," said Cecil, who might elbow his way into the rotation with a strong spring. Jays manager Cito Gaston said he "liked what he saw" of Cecil, which for the first game of the spring isn't a bad thing.

Blue Jays assistant general manager Tony LaCava is one of the front runners to replace Washington Nationals GM Jim Bowden if the organization parts ways with Bowden, who is under U.S. federal investigation for a possible role in a bonus-skimming scheme involving players from the Dominican Republic. LaCava was the Atlanta Braves national scouting supervisor when current Nationals president Stan Kasten was the Braves president.

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