Ian Denomme

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Ian Denomme is an editor for Yahoo! Sports.

  • Masahiro Tanaka starts slow but lives up to billing in major-league debut

    Masahiro Tanaka showed signs of brilliance in a win over the Blue Jays. (The Canadian Press)TORONTO — It was far from perfect but in his major-league debut Masahiro Tanaka showed the potential to be worth every penny the New York Yankees spent on him.

    The Japanese pitching phenom earned the win and spoiled the Toronto Blue Jays’ home opener with a solid, and sometimes dominant, performance in his first game in North America. The Yankees roughed up Blue Jays pitching and won 7-3 in front of a sellout crowd of 48,197.

    Blue Jays manager John Gibbons probably summed up Tanaka’s night best. “He’s the real deal.”

    Tanaka’s night did get off to a rough start though.

    Blue Jays leadoff hitter Melky Cabrera welcomed Tanaka to the major leagues with a solo home run to right field in the first inning.

    “It was my mistake and I think Cabrera took a really good swing,” Tanaka said through an interpreter. But he wasn’t rattled as he got Colby Rasmus to ground out and struck out Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to end the inning.

    He hit another rough patch in the second when Dioner Navarro

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  • Dustin McGowan's night lasted only 2.2 innings. (The Canadian Press)TORONTO — Dustin McGowan’s redemption story will have to wait for another day. The Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher made his first big-league start since September 2011 but it lasted less than three innings.

    The oft-injured, former prized prospect was roughed up early by the New York Yankees. He surrendered four runs on eight hits before being lifted with two outs in the third inning after throwing 72 pitches. The Yankees went on to win 7-3 in front of 48,197 in the Blue Jays’ home opener. The result wasn’t what he wanted, but being on the mound for the home opener was an accomplishment in itself.

    McGowan, 32, won 12 games in 2007, including a one-hitter against the Colorado Rockies, but spent part of the next six seasons on the disabled list with a serious right shoulder injury, and various foot and oblique injuries. The Blue Jays stuck with him and signed him to an extension in 2012. He appeared in 25 games in 2013, all in relief, then won the fifth spot in the Blue Jays’ rotation

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  • Roy Halladay enjoying retirement, in no rush to get back into baseball

    TORONTO, CANADA - APRIL 4: Former player Roy Halladay #32 of the Toronto Blue Jays meets with former teammate and current broadcaster Gregg Zaun and with Halladay's son before the start of MLB game action against the New York Yankees on April 4, 2014 at Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
    TORONTO — Roy Halladay had a reputation for being a focused, fierce competitor. For someone with that kind of reputation, he’s handling retirement remarkably well.

    The former Blue Jays All-Star pitcher and Cy Young winner was honoured before the team’s home opener on Friday night and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Halladay announced his retirement this offseason after 16 major-league seasons.

    “It’s pretty cool to be back [in Toronto],” Halladay said during pre-game batting practice. “It doesn’t seem like that long ago, it feels like I was just here. I’m enjoying retirement but this pretty cool to be able to come back here.

    “I have no regrets, no disappointments; [retirement] was the right choice for me. . . I had a lot of fun when I played. I left everything out there that I could. It makes it that much easier to enjoy things now. I enjoy being here and talking to guys. It’s a sport that I love, it’s a passion of mine. I want to try to give back to it. I really enjoy being

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  • Dustin McGowan's last big-league start was in Setpember, 2011. (The Canadian Press)

    There have been many second chances in Dustin McGowan’s baseball career over the last six years. The latest one makes him a starter in Major League Baseball once again.

    On Wednesday, the Blue Jays made their final cuts and announced its starting rotation - and it includes McGowan. The fifth starter in a rotation is not usually noteworthy, but for McGowan it marks the conclusion of a long road back from nearly six years of various injuries that derailed his career. McGowan, 32, was a rising star in 2007 when he started 27 games, won 12 and lost a bid for a no–hitter in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies.

    But McGowan spent parts of the next six seasons on the disabled list with a serious right shoulder injury, and various foot and oblique injuries. The Blue Jays stuck with McGowan and now he will be the starting pitcher for the home opener against the New York Yankees on April 4. The Blue Jays open the regular season with a four-game series in Tampa Bay against the Rays.

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  • Blue Jays miss out on another pitcher, Ervin Santana signs with Braves

    The last free-agent pitcher standing, Ervin Santana, signed with the Braves.Call it another swing and a miss for Alex Anthopoulos and the Toronto Blue Jays.

    On Wednesday, free-agent pitcher Ervin Santana signed a one-year, $14.1 million contract with the Atlanta Braves. Santana was one of the most sought-after free agents this offseason and had been targeted by the Blue Jays. Reports as recently as Saturday said Santana was on the cusp of signing with the team.

    Instead the right-hander is heading to Atlanta to help out a playoff contender that has had its starting rotation torn apart by recent injuries. The signing has to sting a bit for Anthopoulos, the Toronto general manager.

    Anthopoulos has said all the right things this offseason about the team and his decision to make very few changes to a team that won just 74 games last season. He is confident the team can rebound simply by staying healthy and having more depth. But there’s an obvious need for starting pitching on this team. Last year the Blue Jays had one of the worst pitching staffs in the league. They ranked 25th in ERA, 28th in quality starts, 25th in WHIP, 22nd in opponent batting average, and surrendered the second most home runs.

    Santana wasn’t going to fix those problems single handedly. He went 9-10 with the Kansas City Royals last year with a 3.24 ERA and 161 strikeouts in 211 innings. He’s an above average, durable pitcher but hardly a perennial All Star. But he certainly would have helped the Blue Jays, especially on a one-year deal, and would have been a tangible upgrade over whoever is destined for the back end of the rotation. The Blue Jays are built to be competitive now but have fallen way behind in the American League East.

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  • Time for Brett Lawrie to have long-awaited breakout season for Blue Jays

    Brett Lawrie was all smiles after his second half of 2013. (The Canadian Press)DUNEDIN, Fla. – A lot of things have to go right in 2014 for the Toronto Blue Jays to correct 2013’s last-place finish. And, there’s a very good chance that as Brett Lawrie goes, so will the Blue Jays.

    The Canadian-born third baseman is just 24 years old but is entering his third full season in the big leagues and fans and the organization are ready for a long-anticipated breakout season. Lawrie showed what he is capable of doing as an everyday player when he burst onto the scene in 2011. In 2014, he needs to go out and do it consistently – ideally over 162 games, or something close to that.

    At his best, Lawrie can be a five-tool player and a sparkplug for a team often in need of an emotional jolt and a timely hit. At his worst, he is injury-plagued, an impatient hitter who strikes out too much, and makes some curious decisions as a baserunner. For the Blue Jays to contend this season they need the best version of Good Brett.

    In Lawrie’s case, less is more, as the old cliché goes. He’s

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  • Blue Jays playing it safe with top pitching prospect Aaron Sanchez

    Aaron Sanchez is the last of the Blue Jays prized pitching prospects from the 2010 draft. (USA Today Sports)DUNEDIN, Fla. – Aaron Sanchez is patient, if nothing else.

    The right-handed starting pitcher is the Toronto Blue Jays’ top prospect and at just 21 years old already appears ready for prime time. In an age when players start their careers as early as ever, it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to play in the big leagues this year. And on a team with as many question marks in the rotation as the Blue Jays, there’s no question he could get a chance to start the season in the major leagues.

    But he won’t, and he’s fine with that.

    “There’s been a plan since Day 1,” Sanchez said. “Whatever they do with me I’m going to go there and do what I need to do.”

    “There” very likely is Double-A New Hampshire for Sanchez, at least to begin the 2014 season. The hard-throwing California native has been brought along slowly since being drafted 34th overall in the 2010 first-year player draft. The Blue Jays are being very careful with Sanchez, for good reason.

    Sanchez is the last remaining pitcher of the so-called “Lansing Three.” At this time two years ago the Blue Jays had three of the top pitching prospects in baseball, all products of the 2010 draft, and all playing and learning together with the Single-A Lansing Lugnuts. Then the Blue Jays decided to make a splash.

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  • The Blue Jays have a mysterious new player with a strange name

    .DUNEDIN, Fla. – The Toronto Blue Jays, one year after making a number of high-profile moves to try to become contenders, were panned for mostly remaining quiet this past offseason. After a last-place finish in 2013, many fans were frustrated that the 2014 roster will look almost exactly the same.

    But on Wednesday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium there was one new name in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse: DUMB ASS.

    The unwritten etiquette rules of major-league clubhouses, not to mention common decency, prevent the use of cell phone cameras anywhere near the players’ lockers. But rest assured there was a prominent locker in the centre of the clubhouse with a name plate above it – white text on a blue, next to the Blue Jays’ logo, in all caps: “DUMB ASS.”

    Who is the mysterious player and what did he do to deserve the moniker?

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  • New hitting coach Kevin Seitzer has high hopes for Blue Jays’ offence

    Kevin Seitzer, left, with the Kansas City Royals in 2012. (The Canadian Press)DUNEDIN, Fla. – According to Kevin Seitzer, with a few minor adjustments, and some luck, the Toronto Blue Jays can meet 2013’s world championship expectations in 2014. The new Blue Jays hitting coach has been tasked with turning an above average hitting team into a great one, along with helping erase the disappointment of last season.

    Even during 2013’s disastrous last-place finish, the Blue Jays were among the best offensive teams in the majors. They were in the Top 10 in runs scored and total bases, and fourth in home runs. But they were 14th in hits, and 15th in both average and on-base percentage. That’s one area Seitzer would like to see improvement.

    “They were a little bit too much home run happy [last season] and we needed to be able to make some adjustments,” Seitzer said of the Blue Jays’ reliance on the long ball. In order to compete in 2014, Toronto needs to manufacture extra runs without just home runs.

    While Seitzer may not be a household name, he knows a thing or two about hitting.

    Seitzer was a two-time All Star over a 12-year playing career. In 1987 with the Kansas City Royals, he was an All Star and finished second in rookie-of-the-year voting to Mark McGwire. That season he hit .323/.399/.470 and led the American League in hits with 207. He was an All Star again in 1995 with the Milwaukee Brewers after hitting .311/.395/.421 and finished his career in 1997 as a career .295 hitter.

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  • Blue Jays hope they finally have steady hand at second base in Ryan Goins

    Ryan Goins is working to improve offensively to go with his stellar defensive play. (USA Today Sports)DUNEDIN, Fla. – When the Toronto Blue Jays open the 2014 season, they will most likely have a different opening-day second baseman for the fourth consecutive year.

    Since former All-Star second baseman Aaron Hill was traded in August 2011, the Blue Jays have used 12 different players at the position. It’s not exactly a Murderers Row of players, either.

    Kelly Johnson. Mike McCoy. Jayson Nix. Chris Woodward. Omar Vizquel. Adeiny Hechavarria. Emilio Bonficacio. Maicer Iztruis. Some of the second basemen in recent Blue Jays’ history read like a list of temporary stop-gap players.

    This year, Ryan Goins hopes to put a stop to the revolving door of players.

    The 26-year-old converted shortstop is the clear frontrunner for the everyday job in 2014, following an impressive, but brief, audition at the end of 2013.

    [Eh Game: Battle for No. 5 pitching spot no closer to being settled]

    “Yeah I’m excited about it,” Goins said of the opportunity to be opening-day starter. “It’s something you look

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Pagination

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