Inside Pitch: Hinske Learning New Position

In this week's edition of the Jays Inside Pitch report we cover Hinske's new position, focus on the spring of Ricky Romero and Brandon League, project the 25-man roster for the Blue Jays, and finally take a look at the possible top rookies for 2006.

Forgive Eric Hinske if he thinks he's getting a little too much attention this spring. Whether Hinske can make the transition from the infield to the outfield is the only real question to be answered this spring. Hinske has been taking extra flyballs and appears comfortable out there. The only uncomfortable part of the move is on the part of Alex Rios, the incumbent right fielder who, if Hinske proves he can play the position, will find himself in a platoon situation. Not only that, but Rios will have the short end of the platoon, playing only against left-handers. Rios says the decision is out of his hands and all he can do is work hard enough and show the team enough this spring that he returns to be the everyday player he was.

"I'm not worried about it," Rios said. "If that's what they want to do, there's nothing I can do about it. I just have to do my best and I try to win everything back."

Hinske, meanwhile, isn't completely thrilled with the situation, either. He's making his third position change in three seasons, having already played both third and first base the previous two years.

"I don't think I was going to get any at-bats anywhere else in the lineup, so wherever I can help the team win is what I'm trying to do," Hinske said.

Hinske has dropped 10 to 15 pounds since last season. Manager John Gibbons initially considered having Hinske play left field and platoon there with Reed Johnson, but that would have entailed another move with Frank Catalanotto shifting over to right, where he would share time with Rios.

"We just figured it was better just to move one guy out of position," Gibbons said.

NOTES, QUOTES

--OF Vernon Wells arrived in spring training with a strained quad, but he was able to play pain-free in the team's Tuesday intrasquad game. It appears he will be healthy enough to play for the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic.

--RHP Justin Speier was shut down for two weeks after feeling pain in his right middle finger. He tore a tendon in that finger at the end of last season.

--LHP Ricky Romero, the Jays' first pick in last year's amateur draft out of Cal State Fullerton, is in camp as a non-roster invitee and feeling pretty good about his situation. He has been placed in a group with RHP Roy Halladay and has been watching the Jays' No. 1 starter very closely. "I'm not getting in his way or anything, but I'm watching closely what he does and trying to follow it," Romero said.

--INF Russ Adams has now experienced first hand two of the tougher grinds in sports. Having already experienced the grind of a 162-game major league season, Adams spent a month of his offseason caddying for his brother, Frank, who was trying to make it through the PGA's qualifying school.

Frank, 15 months Russ' senior, made it through the first stage but came up just short in the second stage.

"It's such a mental grind," Russ said. "But we'll be back again next year for another shot."

--OF Frank Catalanotto is still hopeful of playing for Team Italy in next month's World Baseball Classic but has yet to be added to the team roster. The Jays outfielder was kept busy last week rounding up birth certificates belonging to his mom, his grandfather and his own to send over to Italy. He's still waiting to hear whether he's eligible to participate.

--RHP Brandon League, he of the 100 mph fastball, spent the offseason overhauling his mechanics with the help of 16-year major league veteran Mike Fetters. Fetters now works for the Beverly Hills Sports Council and, like League, grew up in Hawaii. League had major control issues last season, making an overhaul necessary.

--LHP Ted Lilly had a glint in his eye and a hop in his step when he reported to spring training, and who could blame him? He reported to camp healthy for the first time in three seasons. Lilly missed all of spring training last year with a shoulder problem and the year before missed the bulk of camp after wrenching his wrist moving a television set.

BY THE NUMBERS: 28-50 -- The Jays' woeful record on the weekend (Friday through Sunday) last season. The rest of the week the team was a combined 52-32.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "You can't replace him. That's a big piece. His personality is rare, his heart, his kindness, his outgoing (nature) is tough to replace, but you can't control that. All we can deal with is what we have in the clubhouse now, and I think we're going to manage really well with what we have." -- DH Shea Hillenbrand on the loss of 2B Orlando Hudson.

ROSTER REPORT

General manager J.P. Ricciardi made five significant moves as he signed free agent pitchers B.J. Ryan and A.J. Burnett and added what he hopes will be more thump and consistency in the lineup with the additions of 3B Troy Glaus, 1B Lyle Overbay and C Bengie Molina. They should be the only new faces on the team that last year finished third with an 80-82 record. The Jays hope that with a healthy Roy Halladay -- he missed the final half with a fractured left tibia -- and the additions, they will be in a position to make a run for the postseason.

ARRIVALS: 3B Troy Glaus (trade with Arizona), LHP B.J. Ryan (free agent from Baltimore), RHP A.J. Burnett (free agent from Florida), 1B Lyle Overbay (trade with Milwaukee), C Jason Phillips (minor league free agent from Dodgers), RHP Ben Weber (minor league free agent from Cincinnati), RHP James Baldwin (minor league free agent from Baltimore), C Bengie Molina (free agent from Angels), INF John McDonald (trade with Detroit).

DEPARTURES: RHP Dave Bush (trade with Milwaukee), 3B Corey Koskie (trade with Milwaukee), 2B Orlando Hudson (trade with Arizona), RHP Miguel Batista (trade with Arizona), OF Gabe Gross (trade with Milwaukee), C Ken Huckaby (free agent, signed with Boston), INF Frank Menechino (free agent, signed with Cincinnati).

PROJECTED ROTATION: The Jays made one significant move as they traded Dave Bush to Milwaukee and signed free agent A.J. Burnett and his 95 mile per hour fastball. The hope is that Burnett, who is reunited with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, will finally tap into all of his unlimited potential and be a solid 1-A to staff ace Roy Halladay. Halladay, meanwhile, hopes to avoid the injury bug that has plagued him each of the past two seasons. He suffered shoulder problems in 2004 and last year was literally knocked out of the lineup July 8 when he had his left tibia fractured after being hit by a line drive off the bat of the Rangers' Kevin Mench. Left-hander Ted Lilly, who always seems to disappoint, is shuffled back to the third spot, but he's heading into his free agent season, which always seems to bring the best out of players. Lefty Gustavo Chacin had a solid rookie season. Josh Towers was the surprise of the staff, going 13-12 with a 3.71 ERA, 12th best in the league. The Jays believe the addition of Burnett gives them one of the best rotations in the league.

--RHP Roy Halladay was on a Cy Young path until he broke his leg July 8. Up to then he was 12-4 with a 2.41 ERA. When healthy, he's one of the best in the league.

--RHP A.J. Burnett was signed as a free agent with the hopes he will have a breakthrough season. The team would like him to carry some of RHP Roy Halladay's load.

--LHP Ted Lilly missed all of spring training with shoulder tendinitis and never found his stride last season. He continually butted heads with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg. He needs a consistent year if he wants the big bucks next winter, when he'll be a free agent.

--LHP Gustavo Chacin went 13-9 with a 3.72 ERA in his rookie year and was the staff's most consistent performer. He gave up four or more earned runs in just six of 34 starts.

--RHP Josh Towers led the team in ERA (3.71) and innings pitched (208 2/3), both career highs. His 13 wins were also a career high. A strike-throwing machine, Towers walked just 29 batters.

PROJECTED BULLPEN: The Jays last year employed a seven-man bullpen and will probable do the same this year. The big change, though, will be at the closer spot as B.J. Ryan comes over from Baltimore. Miguel Batista, who had 31 saves in 39 opportunities, was traded back to Arizona in the Troy Glaus deal. Last year the bullpen was 20-25 with 35 saves, while its 3.81 ERA was good for seventh in the league. The 35 saves were the second fewest in the league, ahead of only Kansas City. They also surrendered 65 home runs, the most of any team in the league. Lefty Scott Schoeneweis was the workhorse as he appeared in 80 games. This year he'll be one of three lefties, the others being Ryan and Scott Downs. Setting up Ryan will be the right-handed duo of Jason Frasor and Vinnie Chulk. Chulk topped the league in inherited runners stranded (33 of 37) while Frasor ranked third (34 of 40).

--LHP B.J. Ryan signed on for five years after his breakout season in Baltimore when he was 1-4 with a 2.43 ERA and 36 saves in his first full season of closing.

--RHP Vinnie Chulk set career highs in games, 62, and innings pitched, 72, last year.

--RHP Jason Frasor finished tied with Miguel Batista for the team lead in innings pitched by a reliever with 74 2/3 last year. He was second on the club with 15 holds.

--RHP Justin Speier's ERA of 2.57 ranked 12th among AL relievers. He held opposing hitters to a .198 average, tops on the team and eighth in the league among relievers. He also allowed 10 home runs.

--LHP Scott Schoeneweis set a club record for appearances by a left-hander -- 80. He allowed just three extra-base hits to left-handed hitters and just two home runs overall. Right-handed hitters batted .306 against him.

--LHP Scott Downs was 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 26 appearances, including 13 starts, last season. He also allowed 12 home runs.

--RHP Pete Walker will be in a battle for the long relief role. Last year he bounced back from a injury-plagued season in Japan. As a reliever, he went 5-4 with two saves and a 2.98 ERA. He turns 37 in April.

PROJECTED LINEUP: General manager J.P. Ricciardi's favorite word in the offseason was flexibility, and as a result, the Jays will not come close to having a set lineup or batting order. As an example, Ricciardi said that against a top left-hander such as Randy Johnson, they could have Shea Hillenbrand at first, Gregg Zaun catching and Bengie Molina as the DH -- the three being right-handed hitters. The Jays will mix and match as much as possible with the noted exceptions of Aaron Hill at second, Russ Adams at short, Troy Glaus at third and Vernon Wells in center. The same goes for the batting order -- it will be a constant shuffle.

--C Bengie Molina will handle the bulk of the catching duties and should start 120 games, with Gregg Zaun handling the rest.

--1B Lyle Overbay, a left-handed hitter, moves over from the National League.

--2B Aaron Hill, a shortstop by trade, takes over for Orlando Hudson, who won a Gold Glove last year. Hill, who hit a solid .274 in 105 games last season, made just 22 starts at second in 2005.

--SS Russ Adams is back for his second full season and needs to improve both his range and his throwing, which led to the bulk of his 26 errors.

--3B Troy Glaus is back in the AL after a one-year stint in the NL. He is being counted on for a 35-plus home run season.

--LF Eric Hinske, a left-handed hitter, will share time with right-handed-hitting Reed Johnson.

--CF Vernon Wells and his Gold Glove are back, and the Jays are counting on him to have a faster start. Last year he hit .191 in April and .202 in May.

--RF Frank Catalanotto, who is moving from left field, will platoon in right with Alex Rios, a player with enormous potential. Rios went from one homer in 2004 to 10 last year. Catalanotto, meanwhile, has below-average range, and his arm is not suited to the position.

--DH Shea Hillenbrand, a right-hander batter who had 128 at-bats as the designated hitter in 2005, is expected to man the bulk of those duties this year. Designated hitter was a weak point in 2005, as the Jays used 11 players and they combined for just 13 homers and 69 RBIs.

PROJECTED RESERVES: In the J.P. Ricciardi era, the bench has never been an area of strength, but this year, because of the additions and platooning of jobs in the outfield, the bench should be significantly stronger. Against left-handers, the plan is to start right-handed hitting Reed Johnson in left and Alex Rios in right. Against right-handers, two left-handed hitters man the outfield corners, as Eric Hinske will be in left and Frank Catalanotto in right.

--OF Reed Johnson, who hit .269 with eight homers and 58 RBIs last year, should split time in left field with Eric Hinske.

--OF Alex Rios, a .262 hitter with 10 homers and 59 RBIS in 2005, will share right field with Frank Catalanotto.

--C Gregg Zaun had a great year behind the plate in 2005, but with the addition of Bengie Molina, Zaun is now the backup.

--INF John McDonald, who was re-acquired in the offseason from Detroit, figures to be the lone infield backup.

TOP ROOKIES: RHP Dustin McGowan, who missed the 2004 season because of Tommy John surgery, made just five starts at Class A Dunedin (0-1, 4.29 ERA) and six starts at Double-A New Hampshire (0-2, 3.34) before being called up July 30. In seven starts with the Jays, he was 1-3 with an 8.13 ERA, but in relief was 0-0 with a 0.82 ERA in six appearances. A first-round pick in 2000, McGowan stands an outside chance of making the club as a reliever but will probably open the year as a starter at Triple-A Syracuse. Although the Jays are jammed in the outfield, left-handed hitting John-Ford Griffin had a big year at Triple-A Syracuse as he led the league in home runs (30) and RBIs (103). Griffin has a weak arm and is projected to be a DH in the big leagues.

SPRING FOCUS: Eric Hinske hasn't played the outfield since the 1999 season in his minor league days, but with the acquisition of Lyle Overbay, he's lost his job at first base. Hinske should see a lot of action this spring in left field, and if he isn't a disaster in the spot, he will platoon with Reed Johnson.

MEDICAL WATCH: After attempting and failing to rush RHP Roy Halladay back into the rotation last year, the Jays relented and kept him on the disabled list for the remainder of the season. Halladay suffered a fractured left tibia after being hit by a line drive in a game against Texas on July 8. In the offseason, Halladay took the slow and careful rehab approach. He should be fine by the opening of spring training.

Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n\r\n Forgive Eric Hinske if he thinks he's getting a little too much \r\nattention this spring. \r\nWhether Hinske can make the transition from the infield to the \r\noutfield is the only real question to be answered this spring.\r\n Hinske has been taking extra flyballs and appears comfortable out \r\nthere.\r\n The only uncomfortable part of the move is on the part of Alex Rios, \r\nthe incumbent right fielder who, if Hinske proves he can play the \r\nposition, will find himself in a platoon situation.\r\n Not only that, but Rios will have the short end of the platoon, \r\nplaying only against left-handers.\r\n Rios says the decision is out of his hands and all he can do is work \r\nhard enough and show the team enough this spring that he returns to be \r\nthe everyday player he was.

\r\n \"I'm not worried about it,\" Rios said. \"If that's what they want to \r\ndo, there's nothing I can do about it. I just have to do my best and I \r\ntry to win everything back.\"

\r\n Hinske, meanwhile, isn't completely thrilled with the situation, \r\neither. He's making his third position change in three seasons, having \r\nalready played both third and first base the previous two years.

\r\n \"I don't think I was going to get any at-bats anywhere else in the \r\nlineup, so wherever I can help the team win is what I'm trying to do,\" \r\nHinske said.

\r\n Hinske has dropped 10 to 15 pounds since last season. Manager John \r\nGibbons initially considered having Hinske play left field and platoon \r\nthere with Reed Johnson, but that would have entailed another move with \r\nFrank Catalanotto shifting over to right, where he would share time \r\nwith Rios.

\r\n \"We just figured it was better just to move one guy out of \r\nposition,\" Gibbons said.

\r\n\r\nNOTES, QUOTES

\r\n --OF Vernon Wells arrived in spring training with a strained quad, \r\nbut he was able to play pain-free in the team's Tuesday intrasquad \r\ngame. It appears he will be healthy enough to play for the U.S. team in \r\nthe World Baseball Classic.

\r\n --RHP Justin Speier was shut down for two weeks after feeling pain \r\nin his right middle finger. He tore a tendon in that finger at the end \r\nof last season.

\r\n --LHP Ricky Romero, the Jays' first pick in last year's amateur \r\ndraft out of Cal State Fullerton, is in camp as a non-roster invitee \r\nand feeling pretty good about his situation. He has been placed in a \r\ngroup with RHP Roy Halladay and has been watching the Jays' No. 1 \r\nstarter very closely. \"I'm not getting in his way or anything, but I'm \r\nwatching closely what he does and trying to follow it,\" Romero said.

\r\n --INF Russ Adams has now experienced first hand two of the tougher \r\ngrinds in sports. Having already experienced the grind of a 162-game \r\nmajor league season, Adams spent a month of his offseason caddying for \r\nhis brother, Frank, who was trying to make it through the PGA's \r\nqualifying school.

\r\n Frank, 15 months Russ' senior, made it through the first stage but \r\ncame up just short in the second stage.

\r\n \"It's such a mental grind,\" Russ said. \"But we'll be back again next \r\nyear for another shot.\"

\r\n --OF Frank Catalanotto is still hopeful of playing for Team Italy in \r\nnext month's World Baseball Classic but has yet to be added to the team \r\nroster. The Jays outfielder was kept busy last week rounding up birth \r\ncertificates belonging to his mom, his grandfather and his own to send \r\nover to Italy. He's still waiting to hear whether he's eligible to \r\nparticipate.

\r\n --RHP Brandon League, he of the 100 mph fastball, spent the \r\noffseason overhauling his mechanics with the help of 16-year major \r\nleague veteran Mike Fetters. Fetters now works for the Beverly Hills \r\nSports Council and, like League, grew up in Hawaii. League had major \r\ncontrol issues last season, making an overhaul necessary.

\r\n --LHP Ted Lilly had a glint in his eye and a hop in his step when he \r\nreported to spring training, and who could blame him? He reported to \r\ncamp healthy for the first time in three seasons. Lilly missed all of \r\nspring training last year with a shoulder problem and the year before \r\nmissed the bulk of camp after wrenching his wrist moving a television \r\nset.

\r\n BY THE NUMBERS: 28-50 -- The Jays' woeful record on the weekend \r\n(Friday through Sunday) last season. The rest of the week the team was \r\na combined 52-32.

\r\n QUOTE TO NOTE: \"You can't replace him. That's a big piece. His \r\npersonality is rare, his heart, his kindness, his outgoing (nature) is \r\ntough to replace, but you can't control that. All we can deal with is \r\nwhat we have in the clubhouse now, and I think we're going to manage \r\nreally well with what we have.\" -- DH Shea Hillenbrand on the loss of \r\n2B Orlando Hudson.

\r\n\r\nROSTER REPORT

\r\n General manager J.P. Ricciardi made five significant moves as he \r\nsigned free agent pitchers B.J. Ryan and A.J. Burnett and added what he \r\nhopes will be more thump and consistency in the lineup with the \r\nadditions of 3B Troy Glaus, 1B Lyle Overbay and C Bengie Molina. They \r\nshould be the only new faces on the team that last year finished third \r\nwith an 80-82 record. The Jays hope that with a healthy Roy Halladay -- \r\nhe missed the final half with a fractured left tibia -- and the \r\nadditions, they will be in a position to make a run for the postseason.

\r\n ARRIVALS: 3B Troy Glaus (trade with Arizona), LHP B.J. Ryan (free \r\nagent from Baltimore), RHP A.J. Burnett (free agent from Florida), 1B \r\nLyle Overbay (trade with Milwaukee), C Jason Phillips (minor league \r\nfree agent from Dodgers), RHP Ben Weber (minor league free agent from \r\nCincinnati), RHP James Baldwin (minor league free agent from \r\nBaltimore), C Bengie Molina (free agent from Angels), INF John McDonald \r\n(trade with Detroit).

\r\n DEPARTURES: RHP Dave Bush (trade with Milwaukee), 3B Corey Koskie \r\n(trade with Milwaukee), 2B Orlando Hudson (trade with Arizona), RHP \r\nMiguel Batista (trade with Arizona), OF Gabe Gross (trade with \r\nMilwaukee), C Ken Huckaby (free agent, signed with Boston), INF Frank \r\nMenechino (free agent, signed with Cincinnati).

\r\n PROJECTED ROTATION: The Jays made one significant move as they \r\ntraded Dave Bush to Milwaukee and signed free agent A.J. Burnett and \r\nhis 95 mile per hour fastball. The hope is that Burnett, who is \r\nreunited with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg, will finally tap into all \r\nof his unlimited potential and be a solid 1-A to staff ace Roy \r\nHalladay. Halladay, meanwhile, hopes to avoid the injury bug that has \r\nplagued him each of the past two seasons. He suffered shoulder problems \r\nin 2004 and last year was literally knocked out of the lineup July 8 \r\nwhen he had his left tibia fractured after being hit by a line drive \r\noff the bat of the Rangers' Kevin Mench. Left-hander Ted Lilly, who \r\nalways seems to disappoint, is shuffled back to the third spot, but \r\nhe's heading into his free agent season, which always seems to bring \r\nthe best out of players. Lefty Gustavo Chacin had a solid rookie \r\nseason. Josh Towers was the surprise of the staff, going 13-12 with a \r\n3.71 ERA, 12th best in the league. The Jays believe the addition of \r\nBurnett gives them one of the best rotations in the league.

\r\n --RHP Roy Halladay was on a Cy Young path until he broke his leg \r\nJuly 8. Up to then he was 12-4 with a 2.41 ERA. When healthy, he's one \r\nof the best in the league.

\r\n --RHP A.J. Burnett was signed as a free agent with the hopes he will \r\nhave a breakthrough season. The team would like him to carry some of \r\nRHP Roy Halladay's load.

\r\n --LHP Ted Lilly missed all of spring training with shoulder \r\ntendinitis and never found his stride last season. He continually \r\nbutted heads with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg. He needs a consistent \r\nyear if he wants the big bucks next winter, when he'll be a free agent.

\r\n --LHP Gustavo Chacin went 13-9 with a 3.72 ERA in his rookie year \r\nand was the staff's most consistent performer. He gave up four or more \r\nearned runs in just six of 34 starts.

\r\n --RHP Josh Towers led the team in ERA (3.71) and innings pitched \r\n(208 2/3), both career highs. His 13 wins were also a career high. A \r\nstrike-throwing machine, Towers walked just 29 batters.

\r\n PROJECTED BULLPEN: The Jays last year employed a seven-man bullpen \r\nand will probable do the same this year. The big change, though, will \r\nbe at the closer spot as B.J. Ryan comes over from Baltimore. Miguel \r\nBatista, who had 31 saves in 39 opportunities, was traded back to \r\nArizona in the Troy Glaus deal. Last year the bullpen was 20-25 with 35 \r\nsaves, while its 3.81 ERA was good for seventh in the league. The 35 \r\nsaves were the second fewest in the league, ahead of only Kansas City. \r\nThey also surrendered 65 home runs, the most of any team in the league. \r\nLefty Scott Schoeneweis was the workhorse as he appeared in 80 games. \r\nThis year he'll be one of three lefties, the others being Ryan and \r\nScott Downs. Setting up Ryan will be the right-handed duo of Jason Frasor and Vinnie Chulk. Chulk topped the league in inherited runners \r\nstranded (33 of 37) while Frasor ranked third (34 of 40).

\r\n --LHP B.J. Ryan signed on for five years after his breakout season \r\nin Baltimore when he was 1-4 with a 2.43 ERA and 36 saves in his first \r\nfull season of closing.

\r\n --RHP Vinnie Chulk set career highs in games, 62, and innings \r\npitched, 72, last year.

\r\n --RHP Jason Frasor finished tied with Miguel Batista for the team \r\nlead in innings pitched by a reliever with 74 2/3 last year. He was \r\nsecond on the club with 15 holds.

\r\n --RHP Justin Speier's ERA of 2.57 ranked 12th among AL relievers. He \r\nheld opposing hitters to a .198 average, tops on the team and eighth in \r\nthe league among relievers. He also allowed 10 home runs.

\r\n --LHP Scott Schoeneweis set a club record for appearances by a \r\nleft-hander -- 80. He allowed just three extra-base hits to left-handed \r\nhitters and just two home runs overall. Right-handed hitters batted \r\n.306 against him.

\r\n --LHP Scott Downs was 4-3 with a 4.31 ERA in 26 appearances, \r\nincluding 13 starts, last season. He also allowed 12 home runs.

\r\n --RHP Pete Walker will be in a battle for the long relief role. Last \r\nyear he bounced back from a injury-plagued season in Japan. As a \r\nreliever, he went 5-4 with two saves and a 2.98 ERA. He turns 37 in \r\nApril.

\r\n PROJECTED LINEUP: General manager J.P. Ricciardi's favorite word in \r\nthe offseason was flexibility, and as a result, the Jays will not come \r\nclose to having a set lineup or batting order. As an example, Ricciardi \r\nsaid that against a top left-hander such as Randy Johnson, they could \r\nhave Shea Hillenbrand at first, Gregg Zaun catching and Bengie Molina \r\nas the DH -- the three being right-handed hitters. The Jays will mix \r\nand match as much as possible with the noted exceptions of Aaron Hill \r\nat second, Russ Adams at short, Troy Glaus at third and Vernon Wells in \r\ncenter. The same goes for the batting order -- it will be a constant \r\nshuffle.

\r\n --C Bengie Molina will handle the bulk of the catching duties and \r\nshould start 120 games, with Gregg Zaun handling the rest.

\r\n --1B Lyle Overbay, a left-handed hitter, moves over from the \r\nNational League.

\r\n --2B Aaron Hill, a shortstop by trade, takes over for Orlando \r\nHudson, who won a Gold Glove last year. Hill, who hit a solid .274 in \r\n105 games last season, made just 22 starts at second in 2005.

\r\n --SS Russ Adams is back for his second full season and needs to \r\nimprove both his range and his throwing, which led to the bulk of his \r\n26 errors.

\r\n --3B Troy Glaus is back in the AL after a one-year stint in the NL. \r\nHe is being counted on for a 35-plus home run season.

\r\n --LF Eric Hinske, a left-handed hitter, will share time with \r\nright-handed-hitting Reed Johnson.

\r\n --CF Vernon Wells and his Gold Glove are back, and the Jays are \r\ncounting on him to have a faster start. Last year he hit .191 in April \r\nand .202 in May.

\r\n --RF Frank Catalanotto, who is moving from left field, will platoon \r\nin right with Alex Rios, a player with enormous potential. Rios went \r\nfrom one homer in 2004 to 10 last year. Catalanotto, meanwhile, has \r\nbelow-average range, and his arm is not suited to the position.

\r\n --DH Shea Hillenbrand, a right-hander batter who had 128 at-bats as \r\nthe designated hitter in 2005, is expected to man the bulk of those \r\nduties this year. Designated hitter was a weak point in 2005, as the \r\nJays used 11 players and they combined for just 13 homers and 69 RBIs.

\r\n PROJECTED RESERVES: In the J.P. Ricciardi era, the bench has never \r\nbeen an area of strength, but this year, because of the additions and \r\nplatooning of jobs in the outfield, the bench should be significantly \r\nstronger. Against left-handers, the plan is to start right-handed \r\nhitting Reed Johnson in left and Alex Rios in right. Against \r\nright-handers, two left-handed hitters man the outfield corners, as \r\nEric Hinske will be in left and Frank Catalanotto in right.

\r\n --OF Reed Johnson, who hit .269 with eight homers and 58 RBIs last \r\nyear, should split time in left field with Eric Hinske.

\r\n --OF Alex Rios, a .262 hitter with 10 homers and 59 RBIS in 2005, \r\nwill share right field with Frank Catalanotto.

\r\n --C Gregg Zaun had a great year behind the plate in 2005, but with \r\nthe addition of Bengie Molina, Zaun is now the backup.

\r\n --INF John McDonald, who was re-acquired in the offseason from \r\nDetroit, figures to be the lone infield backup.

\r\n TOP ROOKIES: RHP Dustin McGowan, who missed the 2004 season because \r\nof Tommy John surgery, made just five starts at Class A Dunedin (0-1, \r\n4.29 ERA) and six starts at Double-A New Hampshire (0-2, 3.34) before \r\nbeing called up July 30. In seven starts with the Jays, he was 1-3 with \r\nan 8.13 ERA, but in relief was 0-0 with a 0.82 ERA in six appearances. \r\nA first-round pick in 2000, McGowan stands an outside chance of making \r\nthe club as a reliever but will probably open the year as a starter at \r\nTriple-A Syracuse. Although the Jays are jammed in the outfield, \r\nleft-handed hitting John-Ford Griffin had a big year at Triple-A \r\nSyracuse as he led the league in home runs (30) and RBIs (103). Griffin \r\nhas a weak arm and is projected to be a DH in the big leagues.

\r\n SPRING FOCUS: Eric Hinske hasn't played the outfield since the 1999 \r\nseason in his minor league days, but with the acquisition of Lyle \r\nOverbay, he's lost his job at first base. Hinske should see a lot of \r\naction this spring in left field, and if he isn't a disaster in the \r\nspot, he will platoon with Reed Johnson.

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