06-15-2018, 02:50 AM
CLEARWATER, Florida – Jose Bautista isnt getting worked up about his red hot spring training. Nacer Chadli Jersey . After all, established players dont concern themselves with Grapefruit League statistics. "Im just trying to make sure I keep working on my game plan and my mental preparation for each at-bat and the situation that I have in front of me," said Bautista, before offering a glimpse into the extent of his own expectations. "Its been a little bit inconsistent but thats to be expected in spring training." After Thursdays 3-1 win over the Phillies, which marked the first time this season Bautista had played into the eighth inning, hes hitting .304/.465/.717 (1.182 OPS) with five home runs and 11 RBI. Hes looking to regain the form from 2010 and 2011 that catapulted him to superstardom. He led baseball with 54 and 43 home runs, respectively, in those two seasons and in 2011 led baseball with an otherworldly 1.056 OPS. Those are lofty standards and Bautista has battled injuries (wrist, hip) since then but he feels he still can be a consistent threat. "Overall, I feel pretty good about camp and Im seeing the ball well and I think Im staying within the strike zone," said Bautista. "Any time Im doing that I normally do well." Bautista has had a strong start in the field, too. Showing no ill effects from a jammed hip that cost him the final six weeks of last season, he made a great sliding catch on a Jimmy Rollins shallow fly ball in the first inning of Thursdays game; then in the third was credited with his fourth outfield assist of the season on a play at second base. There is legitimate concern about the state of the starting pitching heading into the regular season but Bautista believes improved defence will help the rotation. "Im healthy. So is Colby. So is Melky and the little bit of games he played (last year) he was hurt the whole time. Same with Brett; he started the season on the DL. Jose (got hurt) in the third week of the season and we missed him a lot," said Bautista. "We had two new guys getting used to the turf in Maicer (Izturis) and Bonifacio who struggled a little bit at second. Now, Maicer is more used to it; Goins is really good defensively and the rest of the infield is healthy and ready to go. We have Dioner (Navarro) at catcher. Thats different than J.P. (Arencibia) and J.P. didnt have his best defensive year last year and thats no secret. Not that hes bad defensively, he just didnt have a good year defensively. Overall, we should be better but at the same time we cant just be complacent and think that its going to automatically happen." Earlier this spring, veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey told TSN.ca he believed this incarnation of the Blue Jays could be "blown up" if it underperforms for a second consecutive season. Bautista, about to begin what would be his sixth full season in Toronto, said he doesnt dwell on negative thoughts. "Plus, thats a question better suited for Alex Anthopoulos, not me, because I cant make decisions when it comes to anything like that," he said. Bautista hopes to be spending his 34th birthday, on October 19, in a playoff setting. Nobodys found the tonic to slow down Father Time but Bautista has no more a sense of urgency to win now, in his mid-30s, than he did in his younger days. "Its always your number one driver is wanting to win," said Bautista. "I feel that this team is capable of winning, this organization is pretty close to accomplishing that. Let me just say theres nowhere else Id rather be than on this team." Bautista is aware that fans are anxious after the clubs relatively quiet offseason. He reads his Twitter account. "They have to trust the team," he said. "They have to be not only fans but they also have to love their organization and love the team and love their players. Hopefully theyve created some sort of bond with us over the last couple of years because a lot of us have been here for a while. Hopefully they get to know us as people, as athletes and they believe in us as much as we believe in ourselves. Were going to go out and leave it out on the field every single day and hopefully they can do the same either at home or at the stadium when they come out to support us." McGOWAN TO LONG RELIEF Dustin McGowan has been saying since late last season hed like to take one more shot, likely a final shot, at returning to the starting rotation. Manager John Gibbons has been hesitant to embrace the idea and with time running out in spring training, the focus is on building up McGowan to be one of the long men out of the bullpen. "Hes kind of in limbo there," said Gibbons. "We want to be able to stretch him out anyway. If hes in the pen for multiple innings that would benefit us quite a bit down there. We know he can do two. If he can do three that would do wonders for us." McGowan, who turns 32 on Monday, threw three scoreless innings against the Phillies in Clearwater on Thursday. He considered the accomplishment a milestone. "It felt good to finally go three innings," said McGowan. "Its been quite a few years since I reached that mark." After multiple shoulder surgeries which cost him the entirety of the 2009 and 2010 seasons, most of 2011 and all of 2012, McGowan returned in 2013 as a reliever, posting a 2.45 ERA in 25 appearances. "Im kind of interested to see how Im going to feel tomorrow," said McGowan. "The way I feel right now I think Im going to be just fine. I can usually tell right after I come out of the game how Im going to feel. Its one of those days I feel good." He won 12 games for the Blue Jays back in 2007. Gibbons managed that team. "We think hes beyond that kind of stuff and I thought he thrived in the bullpen," said Gibbons. "I thought that was a good role for him." McGowan was set back this spring by a stomach virus that kept him away for the club for a couple of days and resulted in him dropping eight pounds. The calendar isnt his friend. "He had desire to do it," said Gibbons of McGowan starting. "A lot of people had desire to see if he could do it but myself, personally, kind of had some reservations." THE RUNNING GAME The Blue Jays stole 112 bases last season, which tied the club for ninth with Colorado. More than half of those stolen bases, a combined 57, are gone with the departures of Rajai Davis (45) via free agency and Emilio Bonifacio (12), who was traded last August. Anthony Gose stole four bases last year and is expected to begin the season with Triple-A Buffalo. "Thats not one of our strengths," said manager John Gibbons. "Our speed has definitely dropped off. Thats now how the team is built." Toronto was fourth in the major leagues in home runs (185) last season, a number which figures to climb if the club gets injury-free seasons from Jose Bautista, Colby Rasmus and Brett Lawrie. "The teams built for those guys in the middle to drive in a bunch of runs, hit some home runs and Reyes to get things going. We think were strong. Weve got some pop. Weve got some guys that can produce some runs, top to bottom in the lineup." Still, Gibbons wants to mitigate the all-or-nothing approach he feels his team had too often last season. "Well cut down on the strikeouts a little bit I think will definitely help us and (hitting coach Kevin) Seitzers really good about that and hes working some game plans but that takes time," said Gibbons. "I think these guys have all been receptive to him." ROTATION JUGGLING Drew Hutchison has been dropped from his major league start on Saturday in favour of Todd Redmond. Redmond was scheduled to pitch against the Rays on Friday in Port Charlotte but has been pushed back a day. Aaron Sanchez will start on Friday, while Hutchison will pitch on Saturday but in a Triple-A game. While the Blue Jays havent confirmed publicly that Hutchison has made the team, the fact the coaching staff doesnt feel the need to see him versus major league talent this close to opening day bodes well for the 23-year-old. Thorgan Hazard Jersey .com) - NFL owners have unanimously approved the sale of the Buffalo Bills. Kevin De Bruyne Belgium Jersey .Y. - Referee Ed Hochuli referred to replay official Tom Sifferman by his nickname Jungle Boy, which was heard on the in-stadium microphone during the Arizona Cardinals-Carolina Panthers NFC wild-card game Saturday. http://www.belgiumsoccerpro.com/Blank-Belgium-Jersey/ . "Ive got a lot of work to do on this team and the sooner that I can get back to my office and start that work, itll be better," he said straight-faced as the rest of the room erupted in laughter.It is the middle of May of 1987 and the J2 class of St Peters Primary School are heading north on the M6 motorway back to Preston. The kids on the bus had spent the day having a school trip visiting some local landmark, the kind of day the children looked forward to for months, an escape away from the classroom setting. At the back of the bus the boys, aged 8 and 9, are getting rowdier but none of the discussions centre around the museum they found themselves at earlier. Instead, the topic of conversation is the upcoming FA Cup Final at Wembley. It is the biggest football match of the season and even the pale, skinny kid with glasses has an opinion on it. Tottenham Hotspur are the favourites and no one on this bus is giving their opponents, Coventry City, a chance. Well, no one except me. I think they will win. I am laughed at almost as much as when my dad took me to get my hair cut two years earlier and it was the shortest cut in the school. It took a while for the hair to grow back and the laughing to stop but this time the laughing wouldnt last nearly as long. In less than two days, every one of those boys would be in front of the television on Saturday afternoon watching the great Wembley Stadium set the stage for another team to climb the stairs and lift the famous cup. The year before, the boys had all watched Ian Rush and Liverpool beat Everton in a wonderfully entertaining final. It was a game that would stay with them forever, whether you supported either of the team teams or not. Tottenham versus Coventry turned out to be even better. Spurs led 1-0 and 2-1 but were pegged back twice, sending the game into extra time before the underdogs scored the fifth and final goal, that deflected off Spurs defender Gary Mabbutt and into his own net. The Sky Blues had won the FA Cup and I had won a tremendous amount of respect. There were no cell phones or email. Yet, everyone had watched it and in Monday morning assembly youd have thought I was playing for Coventry that day. Perhaps, I thought, I have a brain for this game. Twelve and a half years later I am on a bus again. This time I am heading south on the M6 motorway. It is November 1999. I am a journalist travelling with tiny football club Bamber Bridge, an amateur club that has reached the second round of the FA Cup for the first time ever. Brig, as they are affectionately known by the 500 or so fans who watch them each week, had started their FA Cup run months earlier and had found their way past the pre rounds, through the first round proper (as it is known) and into the second round, where they have been drawn at Cambridge United, members of the fourth tier of English professional leagues. Bamber Bridge might have been playing FA Cup games since September but the big teams, from Englands top two divisions, wouldnt enter the competition for one more round. Win this game and tiny Bamber Bridge are in the last 64 with the giants of English football. The players bus, where I sit alone close to the front, is full of spirit and the senior players come up one-by-one to tell a story of inspiration. Brigs star striker includes me in his speal, but it is far from positive. Turns out the part-time footballer, full-time postman wasnt too happy with the message I had delivered to my readers about his poor form earlier this season. Now the team was headed to the lofty heights of Abbey Stadium he had chosen his moment to pick on the young writer. The four hour journey turns out to be more entertaining than the match, endless amounts of buses cross paths at junctions and traffic lights, some full of fans, others full of players, all headed in one direction - towards FA Cup glory. Later that day Bamber Bridge lose 1-0 to a penalty that should never have been awarded. The full-time postman misses a sitter. I deliver that message to my readers. Brig havent come close to the second round proper since. Cambridge draw Crystal Palace in the plum third round draw and beat them, marching all the way to the last 16 where their dream would die against Bolton. They have never been near that round since and are no longer good enough to be in the top four leagues of professional football. At least both teams have their FA Cup memories. And that is where the FA Cup is most fondly thought of. Stuck in the minds of people like a special vault, sending them back to a time less complicated, the FA Cup has become a modern day victim battered aside by the influx of the Premier League, satellite television and the breathtaking growth of the European Cup, now named after champions that doesnt feature just champions. Of course, it still delivers special moments each year and it currently resides in Wigan, of all places, after the relegated Premier League side stunned Manchester City last May in the final. I am sure some nine-year-old boy somewhere picked Wigan to win that day and got laughed at. What I am not so sure about, however, is that those who laughed at him watched the game. The streets of England on FA Cup final day used to be full of women shopping. Men and boys were in front of the television. These days the game comes as an inconvenience to some, no longer always placed at the end of the football season when the league campaigns are finished. The fact that it is the traditional closer to this season again is romantic but it has been moved once and will be moved again. It is a competition badly in need of being loved again yet it continues to be cast aside for the biggger, flashier Premier League encounters. Kevin De Bruyne Jersey. The draw for the last 64 used to be another special moment, circled on the calendar for all football fans. When giants could be given minnows or even fellow giants. Yet, this season the draw for the third round of the FA Cup took place when Arsenal were playing Everton in a highly entertaining Premier League match at the Emirates. The eyes of the football world were placed on that game and not even a draw that pitted Arsenal and Tottenham together could overtake Evertons comeback to the main story in newspapers and websites the next day. It was a fitting moment. The FA Cup isnt in the shadows of the league, it is hiding around the corner trembling at the very site of it. And yet when it gets its moment in the sun it has sadly become an awkward distraction from the weekly rolling circus known worldwide as the Barclays Premier League. This season the FA Cups rounds 3 through 5 has been set aside dates on the weekends of January 4-5, January 25-26 and February 18-19. Three weekends that have been kept free completely by the Premier League. Three weekends out of the first seven weeks of 2014 that no Premier League matches will be watched by the billions who tune in worldwide. Not exactly ideal. Three weekends that will see crowds down everywhere as football fans, forced to pay extra money on top of their season ticket price, decide against going to watch FA Cup matches. Last January, eventual winners Wigan Athletic drew 1-1 at home to Bournemouth in round three and just over 8,000 fans showed up to watch the game. An-all Premier League third round game between QPR and West Brom was watched by 8,984 people. Less and less people are caring every year and if it continues along this path it wont be long before it becomes similar to its far poorer off cousin, the league cup, who, despite its name changes for sponsors, remains the same; a competition for the reserves until the real later stages. The FA Cup badly needs an identity change before it is too late. Next week the Premier League embarks on its busiest period. Teams play four games between December 21 and January 1. While leagues in Germany, Spain and Italy take a short winter break, the Premier League marches on, asking their teams to play a moronic schedule that suits nobody. Squads are tested to needless limits with some teams having to play four high intense Premier League games in nine days. A winter break at this time in England should not be implemented, despite statements by Arsene Wenger and others suggesting otherwise. Playing games over the Christmas period is a tradition English football should keep, a tradition that looks after fans actually in the stadiums (a rarity in an era dominated by television revenue) and able to go to games on special days like Boxing Day and New Years Day. No one, however, can argue that the current crowded fixture list is good for the game. Thats why a solution to fix the FA Cup, and save the stress on the Premier League teams, should be implemented. In the four upcoming windows of matches - Dec 21-22, Dec 26, Dec 28-29, Jan 1 - the FA Cup should play rounds 3, 4, 5 and 6. By the end of January 1 they should have their semifinalists. No replays, all games end that day. The draw should be made up so the teams know in advance who they will be playing. Think March Madness style for NCAA Basketball in the United States. A 64 team bracket draw is made and if you win on the first weekend, you instantly know who you will face in the next round and so on and so forth. It is a system that can benefit all. If Wenger and his colleagues want to give key players a winter break, go ahead. More teams will get a break by the very fact that only eight teams, from the original 64, will play four matches during that time. The police will know the schedule and can plan ahead of time (a necessary when planning games) for when a certain team may be at home that day. Crowds will be bigger for FA Cup matches because football fans in England love to go to games at this time of year. Some fans will not get to see their teams play on Boxing Day or New Years Day, if they have been knocked out, but those days will still feature games involving teams from the two lower divisions of English football, who didnt make the 64, if you are craving a game to watch. The Football Association are constantly thinking of ideas to get Premier League fans to spend money to watch their local, smaller clubs and this is another way of achieving that. The Premier League can go back to playing regularly throughout January and February on the weekends it should and would also avoid a conflict later in round six when all Premier League teams are slated to play on the same weekend as the last eight in the FA Cup (March 8-9 this year). That causes the teams fixture congestion down the stretch, something else this plan avoids, sending the last four all the way through to the semi-finals, which can be played in their usual spot of mid-April. Above all, this plan would bring the FA Cup back from the dead. Playing so many games around the country over such a short amount of time will keep everyones focus on the knock-out competition. Many people are in a great mood at this festive season and what better way to reward them than with a festival of FA Cup football, held over a span lasting less than two weeks. It suits the FA, the Premier League and the players. And, of course, nine-year-old experts. Wholesale Jerseys 2019 China Jerseys Wholesale NFL Jerseys Wholesale Authentic Jerseys Wholesale Jerseys 2018 Cheap NFL Womens Jerseys Cheap Jerseys ' ' '