Notes: Jays trying for injury-free spring
Gibbons aims to avoid repeating club's travails of last season
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Things started to unravel for the Blue Jays before their season even began a year ago. Many of the injuries that struck Toronto's roster had their roots in Spring Training, putting the club behind the eight ball from the get-go.
On Wednesday, as the Blue Jays' clubhouse at the Bobby Mattick Training Center buzzed with activity on moving day, Toronto was able to celebrate a minor victory. Roughly two weeks into camp, and with the club's first Grapefruit League game one day away, the Blue Jays were injury-free.
"That's a victory right now," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said. "We'll just go day to day. Some guys really responded from coming back from injuries. ... We could lose [players], and we did last year and we were scrambling.
"It's like the first round of a heavyweight fight. You come out and the guy peppers you, and all of a sudden you're backpedaling. We were backpedaling early, but right now we're OK."
Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells and third baseman Scott Rolen, who are each coming back from left shoulder surgeries, have reported no lingering issues. Left fielder Reed Johnson missed three months with a lower-back injury last season and has shown no ill effects this spring.
Toronto first baseman Lyle Overbay, whose swing wasn't the same last year after he returned from a broken right hand, has once again displayed a smooth stroke in the batting cage. Right-hander Brandon League has impressed the Jays brass, a year after a shoulder issue cost him a spot in the bullpen.
B.J. Ryan (left elbow), Gustavo Chacin (left shoulder), A.J. Burnett (right shoulder) and Shaun Marcum (right knee) all missed time last year due to injuries and each has looked fine this spring. All the good news had Toronto manager John Gibbons looking for the nearest slab of wood to touch.
"I think the sun's due to shine on us -- I've said that before," Gibbons said. "Injuries are a part of it, but for things to work, you have to stay away from a lot. We feel good and we're confident."
Ryan watch: On Thursday, Ryan is scheduled to meet with Dr. Timothy Kremchek, who performed Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on the pitcher's left elbow in May, to go over the closer's progress since the operation.
Prior to the meeting, Ryan is slated to move beyond bullpen sessions for the first time since the surgery. On Thursday morning, the left-hander is penciled in to throw a 20-pitch batting-practice session against a handful of Minor League hitters at the Bobby Mattick Training Center.
Following Ryan's mound appearance and subsequent doctor's appointment, the pitcher will take a few days off before upping his pitch count to 25-30 throws in another BP session. Blue Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg said that Ryan would also likely need to throw a simulated game before making his first Grapefruit League appearance.
Not a lock: Brian Tallet is coming off a career year as a member of Toronto's bullpen, posting a 3.47 ERA over 48 relief appearances in 2007. Even so, Ricciardi said that the 30-year-old left-hander shouldn't consider himself a shoo-in for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
"He's in the mix, I'll put it that way," Ricciardi said. "He's probably better to be of the mind-set of having to make the team, as opposed to 'I have the team made.' There's only a few guys that should walk around with that mind-set."
Gibbons noted that Tallet has been working on adding an offspeed curveball to help him improve against left-handed batters. Last year, Tallet strayed from the norm by performing better against righties, limiting those hitters to a .194 batting average, compared to a .247 mark against lefties.
Reading Reed: So far, Ricciardi has been pleased with how Johnson has looked in his comeback from the major back injury that he suffered last season. Still, that didn't stop the Jays from signing Shannon Stewart on Sunday as a backup plan, and Ricciardi knows seeing Johnson in game action will be a better indicator of his status.
"Reed looks like he's much better than he was to end the season," Ricciardi said. "I think with Reed, we'll know more once we watch him play games. Really, he's got to go all out. ... I think Reed's [injury has] so much to do with the running part of his game that we'll have to see how that plays out."
On the radar: Ricciardi and Gibbons have both named left-handers Mike Gosling and John Parrish as pitchers who have stood out in the first two weeks of camp. Arnsberg has been working with Parrish on his delivery, and the results may have made the southpaw a darkhorse for a bullpen job.
"He looks good," Gibbons said about Parrish. "They made an adjustment in his delivery, with his stride -- his direction toward the plate. That's always been a key thing for him, throwing strikes. From what he's shown so far, there's a guy who could factor in big along the way."
On the air: On Tuesday, TBS released its Sunday broadcast schedule for the first two months of the season. The station's first televised game of the year will be on April 6, when the Blue Jays host the Boston Red Sox at 1 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre.
Quotable: "We don't have any and we're not keeping anything from you, either." -- Gibbons, on avoiding injuries so far this spring
Coming up: The Blue Jays open their Grapefruit League schedule against the Tigers with a 1:05 p.m. ET contest on Thursday at Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland, Fla. Right-hander Jesse Litsch will face left-hander Nate Robertson.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.