#1 approach he feels his team had too often last sea von carrie567 04.05.2019 05:42

CLEARWATER, Florida – Jose Bautista isnt getting worked up about his red hot spring training. 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. Arizona Cardinals Jerseys . They find themselves trying to knock each other out in the Western Conference finals for the second straight year. The Blackhawks prevailed last year on their way to the Stanley Cup, and they have the early lead this time after taking the opener, 3-1. Custom Arizona Cardinals Jerseys . Diego Costa headed in Gabis corner seven minutes from time to secure victory ahead of the return match in Madrid on March 11. "We know that at Madrid it will be another game, which will also be important and very difficult," Milan coach Clarence Seedorf said. http://www.thecardinalsshoponline.com/Yo...rdinals-Jersey/. - Andre Drummond had his best night on the boards. Larry Fitzgerald Jersey . HEROES Alex Ovechkin – Scored a pair of goals in Washington’s 4-0 win over Pittsburgh. With 13 goals in the past 13 games, Ovechkin now has 29 goals on the season to lead the league. Kurt Warner Jersey . For the Bombers it has been a combination of things coming together at the most inappropriate moments in time. Quarterback, injuries, Canadian talent or depth and leadership are all issues. Trust me when I say being a Bomber is no fun right now in a city that embraces football the way Winnipeg does. While Buck Pierce will be getting another shot, I think Max Hall does deserve another opportunity.Scotland travel to Trnava on Tuesday evening to play Slovakia looking to keep their Group F qualification hopes alive. Scotland boss Gordon Strachan was happy with most of the 5-1 win in Malta in their Group F opener and the second half of the 1-1 draw against Lithuania at Saturday, which required an 89th-minute leveller from substitute James McArthur. Highlights of Scotland’s 1-1 draw with Lithuania from Group F of the World Cup Qualifiers. However, with their qualification hopes in the balance, Strachan has called on his team to put a high-class performance together for the full 90 minutes. The former Celtic manager said: So far, of the two games, three quarters has been good.In the Malta game, apart from a couple of minutes in the game, it was good, professional, I liked it. The second half the other day, a lot of crosses, chances, excitement, we got that. Watch NOW TV Watch Sky Sports for just £6.99. No contract. So three quarters have been good so we have to take it into 90 minutes tomorrow.Slovakia suffered their second defeat of the World Cup qualifying campaign on Saturday against Slovenia.That 1-0 defeat means the hosts must beat Scotland to stand any chances of qualifying for the tournament in Russia in 2018. West Brom midfielder Darren Fletcher says he is still in with a chance of playing in Scotlands World Cup qualifier in Slovakia after suffering a dead leg. Team newsStrachan confirmed he will make changes for the game in Trnava against the groups second seeds while captain Darren Fletcher will have a fitness test on a thigh injury. Opta statsThis will be the first ever meeting between Slovakia and Scotland on the international stage.Scotland have lost just two of their last 11 qualifying games (W5 D4).Slovakia have failed to score in their last four internationals, wwith their last goal coming in the European Championships against Russia.dddddddddddd Former Scotland international Paul Lambert and Steve Sidwell discuss Scotlands weekend World Cup qualifying performance on Sky Sports Now. Steven Fletcher has scored four and assisted one more in his last two away competitive matches for Scotland.Robert Snodgrass has netted four goals in his six previous away games for Scotland, although three of those came in his last away appearance vs Malta.Charlie Nicholas predictionIm a critical Scotland fan but we were awful on Saturday. I felt it was a must win at home to Lithuania, who shouldve beaten us, and now it really is.Were not good enough defensively and were not good enough on the ball. Strachan tried changing too much on Saturday. Oliver Burke is a talent but hes not consistent enough to rely on yet. We take a look at Scotlands striking options as they head to Slovakia for their World Cup Group F qualifier on Tuesday night. Sadly I dont feel good about my team at all. We didnt create many chances and I can see Martin Skrtel doing the damage from a set-piece.Charlie predicts: 1-0 and Skrtel to score first (70/1 with Sky Bet)BettingIts hard to separate these two teams in the betting with the draw just a 21/10 chance and Scotland available at 5/2 to pick up what would be a crucial away win. Slovakia can be backed at 6/5. Robert Snodgrass is a 10/1 shot to score first Robert Snodgrass is Scotlands top scorer in qualification and hes part of the Sky Bet price boost that has seen his odds boosted from 15/2 to 10/1. Skrtel looks a good shout to score by Charlie Nicholas and his odds of 8/1 look likely to generate some interest. You can watch Englands tour of Bangladesh, plus Premier League football and the British Masters on Sky Sports. Upgrade now and enjoy three months at half price! 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