DUNEDIN, FLA.—Hyun-Jin Ryu tossed his second bullpen session of the spring on Sunday and he has already started making some slight adjustments to his routine.
Toronto’s No. 1 starter was paired with catcher Danny Jansen during a morning workout at the Englebert complex. Early in the 40-pitch bullpen, Ryu appeared visibly frustrated with his curveball after spiking a few balls into the dirt. That prompted a brief meeting between the pitcher and catcher, who figure to be matched up on opening day.
Ryu made a change midway through and finished the session feeling strong after experiencing better results.
“We were just talking about his curveball, talking about where his release point is,” Jansen said outside the clubhouse. “If you watched the first 20-something pitches, he had a little trouble with the release point, and then … it was money.”
Ryu spent most of last season with the Dodgers, tossing to former Blue Jay Russell Martin. With Martin behind the plate, Ryu had a 1.52 ERA in 20 starts. He had a 5.40 ERA, however, in six outings with rookie Will Smith. Ryu and Martin established a strong rapport, but it doesn’t necessarily mean Ryu will have a personal catcher in Toronto. Reese McGuire and Jansen are both expected to spend a lot of time with Ryu this spring and either one could be used on any given start. That suits Ryu just fine.
“Last year was abnormal,” said Ryu, who signed a four-year deal worth $80 million (U.S.) this winter. “I usually work with all the catchers. It’s up to the pitcher to work with different types of catchers, as well.”
- Shaw, shank, redemption: Most of the moves the Jays made this off-season were centred on upgrading the pitching staff, but offensively they at least addressed the hole at first base by signing Travis Shaw to a one-year deal.
Shaw hit 63 home runs for the Brewers from 2017-18, but his performance cratered last year after some ill-advised changes to his swing. The 29-year-old spent part of the season in the minors and finished the year hitting .157 with a .551 OPS in 86 games. To make up for the lost year, Shaw spent a large portion of his winter watching video from previous seasons, attempting to rediscover his old stroke. The native of Ohio claims he feels like his old self again and is preparing for a big year with his new club.
“A change of scenery is sometimes needed,” said Shaw, a career .243 hitter. “For me, it’s a fresh start.”
He’s the son of former big-league pitcher Jeff Shaw, who made a pair of all-star teams and spent parts of three seasons in Montreal. That gives the Jays an entire infield filled with the sons of former major leaguers, along with Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Cavan Biggio.
- Leading off: There is plenty of time for this to change, but it sounds like Jays manager Charlie Montoyo has settled on part of his batting order. Montoyo said Sunday morning that he expects Bichette to hit leadoff, followed by Biggio and then likely Guerrero. Lourdes Gurriel and Randal Grichuk are candidates for the No. 4 and No. 5 spots.
“Biggio was so good at the top of the lineup last year,” Montoyo said of the second baseman, who posted a .364 on-base percentage as a rookie. “He got on base all the time — second half, August and September were outstanding. So, I see Biggio being at the top of the lineup again. Maybe second right now, that’s what I’m thinking.”