The Eh Game

Big hole left in Blue Jays radio broadcasts as Morris, Hayhurst move on

Chris Zelkovich
Eh Game

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Jack Morris. (The Canadian Press)

The Toronto Blue Jays radio broadcasts are undergoing as much change as the team's pitching rotation.

A year after Alan Ashby left to return home, Jack Morris has done the same thing. Ashby returned to his former employer, the Houston Astros, last winter while Morris was hired Friday to work for FOX Sports near his hometown of St. Paul, Minn.

Morris will join Roy Smalley and Tim Laudner as pre-game and post-game analysts on the FOX Sports North television broadcasts. The former Tiger, Twin, Jay and Indian pitcher will also fill in for game analyst Bert Blyleven from time to time .

He'll also work on radio as a commentator in the Twin Cities.

Sportsnet confirmed Thursday that Morris would be leaving the radio booth, though a spokesperson said the company had hoped to find another role for him. It's believed Morris simply wanted to do less travelling and work closer to home.

His departure leaves a hole in the Jays broadcast plans.

While there was no prior indication that Morris would be leaving the Jays after just one season in the radio broadcast booth, the likely heir apparent was former pitcher Dirk Hayhurst. But Hayhurst is no longer part of the equation, having announced earlier this week that he is no longer with the team's flagship station, Sportsnet Radio 590 The Fan.

No reason was given for Hayhurst's departure, though the pitcher told www.thescore.com that the parting was amicable. Sources say Hayhurst has his eyes on more full-time work south of the border and is likely to land a job after an impressive showing on TBS during last fall's playoffs.

There's no indication that Hayhurst's controversial comments had anything to do with his departure. In fact, his sparring matches with former Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia may have made him more attractive to other networks.

While Morris did a commendable job as a game analyst, the loss of Hayhurst may be the bigger one. The intelligent and ironic former pitcher brought something different to the station, a wry and entertaining look at baseball heard far too often on sports radio.

It's believed that Sportsnet will continue its tradition of having a former player join Jerry Howarth in the booth. While Mike Wilner could be in the running, the most likely scenario is for him to remain in his current role.

There are several former Jays on the list of possible replacements for Morris. Duane Ward has done some work on the broadcasts and has expressed interest in getting into broadcasting full-time.

Also on the list are a pair of Canadians. Former Jays Greg O'Halloran and Paul Spoljaric have done work for Sportsnet, most notably as studio analysts on Sportsnet360.

There's also a possibility that the Jays may reach into the past and resurrect the broadcasting career of Rance Mulliniks. The former Jays infielder has expressed interest in getting back into broadcasting, sources say.

It's also possible that Rogers may decide to use a series of analysts. Asking relative rookies such as Ward, O'Halloran or Spoljaric to carry the load for 162 regular-season games may be courting disaster.

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