Dunedin, Fla. – On Thursday morning, Charlie Montoya called Jose Berrios to his office. Congratulations to the manager. You worked for this. You have achieved this. You are starting the opening day.
It wasn’t exactly a secret – as Montoya puts it, “he kind of knew” – but it was still an emotional moment for Berrios. This is the third time he will start on opening day, but his first chance to do so for the Blue Jays, a team whose last two seasons of openers have taken place away from home. It was a bonus to receive the message from Puerto Rican colleague Montoya.
“I’m very happy,” Berios said. “It feels like when you were younger and you were going to school on the first day. The same feeling, the same emotion. I am so excited for that day now. I know when I tell my family, they will celebrate like me. It was a privilege to be pitched that day, but at the same time I worked for it. “
Work is still going on. Shortly after hearing the news, Berrios quietly moved to Gang Mound at the Blue Jays training facility, throwing a bullpen session to catch Danny Janssen under the supervision of pitching coach Pete Walker in preparation for his final spring start on Saturday. There was no fuss, only a few observers watching Barrios repeatedly hit Jansen’s glove and ask his catcher occasional questions.
But there is no doubt about the significance of the opening day’s assignment, which includes two staff members, two-time Sai Young finalist Hyun-Jean Ryu plus Kevin Gaussman, Alec Manoh and Yusei Kikuchi.
“It’s a big compliment to him because of the pitching staff we have,” said Montoya. “Any of these guys can be number 1. Ryu did it. May be Gaussman. Of course Manoh. So it’s a big compliment for this guy. “
“He’s going to be a working horse for us all year,” added Manoa, who played four scoreless innings in the Blue Jays’ 5-3 win over the Tigers on Thursday. “For him to go there and pitch in front of that 50,000, I can’t wait to see it.”
“She is OK. Excited to see that game and see him dominate the whole year. “
With the exception of an unexpected change in the Blue Jays plan, Gaussman, Ryu, Manoh and Kikuchi will follow Gaussman in that order. On paper, this could be one of the best starting rotations in baseball.
“We can do a lot of good things,” Berrios said. “Special things. We have great weapons. Right and left, from the beginning to the bullpen. That’s why I’m saying we have a special team, a special team.”
But as the rotation looks promising, wrinkles are growing on workers elsewhere. Close Jordan Romano walked his dog this week while walking, causing his left ankle to sprain. Montoya has been described as light. The right-hander plans to throw a light bullpen session on Friday, and the Blue Jays are fully expecting him to be ready for the opening next Friday.
“Oh, yes,” said Montoya. “Sure.”
Of course, Close is often unavailable after a few days of hard work, and when that situation comes up for the Blue Jays, Emmy Garcia will be the main candidate to save the games.
“I’m ready,” said Garcia, who is expected to be available on the opening day despite his visa issuance being delayed until Wednesday despite the visa being issued. “I want to do my job. No innings, seventh, eighth, ninth it doesn’t matter. If they want me to start, I’ll start with this team.
More exciting development for Bullpen is thanks to Julian Marioweider, whose stuff is as lively as ever. In 1 1/3 innings of work, he struck out three while allowing three hits, including a home run, and topped out at 99 miles per hour. On the radar gun. Although he does not have a bullpen spot lockdown, his arm certainly has the attention of team decision makers.
“He was fine,” Montoya said. “It was good to see. He has to keep pitching. Stay healthy and keep pitching, that’s what he needs.”
Meanwhile, Net Pearson’s condition is also in question after being scratched from a scheduled appearance on Thursday. Pearson showed COVID-19 symptoms, but tested negative at the Blue Jays Player Development Complex, and it is unclear at this time when he will pitch next.
The Blue Jays are using Pearson once every five days to build his stamina, but Ross will probably be on the next line to start stripping. Outside of stripling, Pearson, Anthony K and Thomas Hatch will form the next level of depth in the Blue Jays.
Although they are detailed. Despite Romano’s ankle, Blue Jess’s pitching staff is taking shape as planned. Whatever the roster looks like, it’s pretty clear: the pitchers have high expectations of each other.
“We’re here for a purpose,” Berios said. “For a reason. We want to bring that win to City. We’re ready to start. We start spring training here. We look forward to having a great season bringing a lot of happiness and energy to Toronto fans.”