The Toronto Bluejays are often an afterthought when talking about the American League East. The once proud franchise had slipped behind the New York Yankees, the Boston Redsox and even the Tampa Bay Rays when it came to competing for a division title.
The Bluejays went all in during this past offseason, pulling off one of the biggest blockbuster trades in years. Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonifacio, Mark Buehrle, and Josh Johnson all came over to a team that already had a decent base of talent.
The team didn’t stop there, trading for National League Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey just before Christmas. Paired with new manager John Gibbons, the Bluejays are the media’s favorite to win the AL East this year.
On Saturday, the revamped Toronto roster will take the field to take on another team for the first time this spring. One returning star, Jose Bautista recently told USA Today that he expects the team to compete for a title saying:
“We have a deep roster now. We don’t need to be perfect. If we aren’t pitching well, we have enough hitting to make up for it. If the hitters go into a little slump, we’ve got the kind of pitching that can compensate until we pull out of it.”
When the Bluejays take on the Detroit Tigers on Saturday, fans won’t get to see all of the big stars take the field, but there will be enough to show that even a limited roster could mean for the American League this year.
Gibbons told the National Post that several of his other big stars will see action in a split-squad game. “I’m like the fans,” the newly minted manager said. “I want to see them all playing together.”
The Bluejays have managed to stay relatively injury free at the beginning of camp. The health of the roster is obviously going to play a big part in the team’s success this season.
“There’s some lightning in those bodies,” Gibbons added. “We should be a very, very good defensive team. That’s going to help our pitching, help everything.”