Brett Lawrie's call-up to the major leagues is agonizingly close for Toronto Blue Jays fans, notwithstanding his placement on the seven-day disabled list (retroactive to last Thursday) after getting hit on the left hand by a pitch.
Other than winning the World Series and bringing baseball to Toronto to begin with, no other event in the team's history has had the potential to resonate across Canada as the possibility of the Burnaby, B.C., third baseman developing into a star. How's that for pressure, eh?
Yet Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos has ample reason to be coy about the call-up. It's all about managing expectations and he has two examples staring him in the face every day, one on the field and other in his daily minor-league report.
Anthopoulos agrees the Blue Jays rushed outfielder Travis Snider to the majors. Snider has been up and down and now is back in the minors. The general manager also agrees rookie catcher J.P. Arencibia pretty much provides the template for how to do it the proper way.
Heading into a four-game series against the Royals in Kansas City that begins Monday, Arencibia is among major-league leaders in total bases, home runs, extra base hits, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging (OPS). No less than 19 of his 41 hits have gone for extra bases, including nine home runs.
"We feel that J.P. was developed the right way," Anthopoulos says. "If you ask him, I think he'd tell you he thought he should have been here in 2009 [two years after he was drafted 21st overall]. I also think he'd tell you he realizes now he had no business being here, then."
Arencibia repeated a full season at Triple-A Las Vegas in 2010 and was named most valuable player despite starting the season hitting .220 in May. Patience, forced or unforced, is sometimes a good thing.
Major-league-worst WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) for Blue Jays rookie Kyle Drabek, heading into his start Tuesday against the Kansas City Royals. Ivan Nova of the New York Yankees is next at 1.60. The American League average WHIP, through last Saturday, was 1.317 and the major-league leader was Alexi Ogando of the Texas Rangers at 0.88.
CATCHING A DRAFT
Rogers Sportsnet One will televise the major-league baseball entry draft on Monday night starting at 6 p.m. EDT. Putting together a mock draft for this process is as useless as putting one together for the CFL. Face it: Unless you're paid to do it, if you know the various skill sets of the three best cornerbacks in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, it is time to get a new life – but that's why the baseball gods invented Baseball America. In their June 3 mock draft, BA has the Toronto Blue Jays taking North Carolina shortstop Levi Michael with their first pick, which is 21st overall. Michael is a switch-hitter with a little more projected pop from the right side who has played second base, third base and shortstop. Kolten Wong, a second baseman out of Hawaii, is also a possibility, while Keith Law of ESPN has the Blue Jays considering a left-handed pitcher, Jed Bradley from Georgia Tech, if he slips down further. Here is the top 10 according to BA
Pittsburgh Pirates: Danny Hulzen, RHP, Virginia
Seattle Mariners: Anthony Rendon, 3B, Rice
Arizona Diamondbacks: Dylan Bundy, LHP, Owasso High School (Oklahoma).
Baltimore Orioles: Trevor Bauer, RHP, UCLA.
Kansas City Royals: Gerrit Cole, RHP, UCLA.
Nationals: Bubba Starling, OF. Gardner Edgerton High School (Kansas).
Diamondbacks: Sonny Gray, RHP, Vanderbilt
Cleveland Indians: Jed Bradley, LHP, Georgie Tech
Chicago Cubs: Archie Bradley, RHP, Broken Arrow High School (Oklahoma).
San Diego Padres: Matt Barnes, RHP, Connecticut.
Record number of picks for the Tampa Bay Rays in the first two rounds of the major-league draft – all in the top 75.
Picks for the Toronto Blue Jays in the draft's first 78.
Where the top-ranked Canadian, 6-foot-4 right-hander Tom Robson of Ladner, B.C., was listed among Baseball America's top-100 high school draft-eligible players.
"We could work for six months and maybe not get it right against Spain. They're that good. If you let one game rock the boat, you don't have much of a team," ~ Tim Howard
The U.S. goalkeeper thinks his team will have shrugged off a 4-0 exhibition loss to Spain on Saturday by the time it opens the CONCACAF Gold Cup at Ford Field in Detroit against Canada on Tuesday. Canada has had unfinished business against the Americans at this tournament since a controversial 2-1 semi-final loss in 2007, when an official called back a goal by Atiba Hutchinson in the fifth minute of injury time because of an offside.
"At the moment, it's not possible. If you are one second behind in every qualifying, you have to do some strange strategies. Victory for us is, maybe, optimistic, We need to be realistic and start fighting for podiums – start in Canada – and then see how the championship develops because right now the distance is too much," ~Fernando Alonso
The Ferrari driver comments on Sebastien Vettel's 58-point lead over Lewis Hamilton atop the Formula One driver's championship heading into the Grand Prix du Canada on Sunday at the Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve in Montreal.
GRAND PRIX DU CANADA ODDS
Sebastian Vettel, Germany, Red Bull Racing 5 to 4
Lewis Hamilton, England, Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes 5 to 2
Fernando Alonso, Spain, Ferrari 6 to 1
Mark Webber, Australia, Red Bull Racing, 6 to 1
Jenson Button, England, Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes 8 to 1
Nico Rosberg, Germany, Mercedes-Peronas, 33 to 1
Source: William Hill
GOLD CUP ODDS
Mexico 5 to 4
United States 6 to 4
Honduras 10 to 1
Costa Rica 12 to 1
Jamaica 16 to 1
Canada 25 to 1
Panama 25 to 1
Guadeloupe 66 to 1
El Salvador 100 to 1
Guatemala 100 to 1
Grenada 200 to 1
Cubs 200 to 1