Spring training questions: Toronto Blue Jays

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Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be looking at a few of the questions facing each team this spring.
1. Just how many starting pitchers will the Jays go through with Roy Halladay gone?
Even with Halladay throwing 239 innings at the top of the rotation last year, the Blue Jays had 12 different pitchers make multiple starts. This year, they have Ricky Romero, Shaun Marcum and Brandon Morrow likely assured rotation spots, with Mark Rzepczynski, Brett Cecil, Brian Tallet, David Purcey, Dustin McGowan and Dana Eveland also in the mix. In-season alternatives could include Jesse Litsch, Shawn Hill, Kyle Drabek, Scott Richmond, Robert Ray, Brad Mills, Zach Stewart and Reider Gonzalez. It’s a rotation that could be in constant flux unless the Jays catch some breaks.
2. Is Jose Bautista really going to open the season as the regular right fielder and leadoff hitter?
With plenty of outfielders available at bargain rates, it’s hard to believe the Jays haven’t added a potential regular to challenge Bautista and Travis Snider in the corners. They do have the option of going with Adam Lind in left and Snider in right, with Randy Ruiz occupying the DH role, but that’d leave them with maybe baseball worst defensive outfield and nothing close to resembling a leadoff man.
Of course, Bautista is far from an ideal option there. He posted a respectable .235/.349/.408 line in 336 at-bats last season, but that was all because he tore up lefties. He’s a career .227/.316/.366 hitter against righties, and he came in at .202/.331/.333 last year. As a platoon outfielder, Bautista is fine. But he’s someone who should be in the lineup 30-40 percent of the time.
3. Who will win the closer battle between Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor and Scott Downs?
In the grand scheme of things, it hardly figures to matter; the Jays are a fourth- of fifth-place team and it’s quite possible that none of the three will still be around in 2011. Fantasy leaguers, though, may feel differently.
Manager Cito Gaston had made it pretty clear that he wasn’t very comfortable with either Frasor or Downs in the closer’s role, necessitating an offseason addition. Gregg was viewed as a proven alternative, even though he blew seven saves last season and nine in 2008. Frasor and Downs are superior pitchers, but both have more experience setting up than they do closing. Odds are that Gregg will be handed most of the save chances initially. Of course, that was also the case the last two years and he went on to lose the job both times.

The Rays are calling up shortstop prospect Willy Adames

Tampa Bay Rays
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Confirming a report from Enrique Rojas of ESPN, the Rays have called up top prospect shortstop Willy Adames from Triple-A Durham. Adeiny Hechavarria was placed on the disabled list over the weekend due to a hamstring strain, so this is a good opportunity to give Adames his first shot in the big leagues.

Per Bill Chastain of MLB.com, Adames will start at shortstop and bat fifth in his major league debut Tuesday against the Red Sox. He gets to face Chris Sale, so he’s getting thrown right into the fire.

Adames came over to the Rays via the Tigers in the David Price deal back in July of 2014 and has been a mainstay on prospect lists along the way. Baseball America ranked him as the No. 19 prospect in the game back in January.

Adames, 22, was batting .311/.387/.466 with four homers through 40 games in Triple-A this season. That was after hitting .277/.360/.415 with 10 homers over 130 games at the level last year, so the progress has been nice to see. He’ll presumably get every opportunity to stick as a shortstop for now.

The Rays place Joey Wendle on the paternity leave list in a corresponding roster move.