The boys of summer hit the spring training diamonds: Blue Jays pitchers and catchers returned to Dunedin this week

The Blue Jays first spring training game is Feb. 24 against the Philadelphia Phillies, while their regular season opener is March 28 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. Pictured is Blue Jays Vice President Andrew Tinnish. Photo Credit: The Canadian Press/Chris Young.


It’s a rite of passage to spring. 

Major League Baseball Spring Training. 

The Toronto Blue Jays and the 29 other MLB teams arrived in Florida and Arizona this week. 

The Blue Jays spring training home is in Dunedin, Florida. 

Andrew Tinnish, Vice-President of International Scouting and Baseball Operations for the Jays offered his thoughts as players begin to hit the field.  

“I’ll be down here for six weeks,” Tinnish said. “The first couple of weeks is basically our players reporting, and then we’ll start up games late February. 

“The main priority in spring training is evaluating our own team. The last couple of spots in the bullpen, the last couple of position player spots, and focus on our depth, which will give us an indication of where we might be.”

Tinnish is a former Brock Badger and made his comments on the Niagara Sports Report on Newstalk 610 CKTB. 

Toronto finished the 2023 season with an (89-73) record good for third place in the ultra-competitive American League East Division. 

In fact, the Boston Red Sox were the only team to finish below .500 in the AL East, which also features Baltimore, Tampa Bay, and the New York Yankees.

Tinnish feels the Blue Jays biggest acquisition of the off-season was their last signing this winter. 

“I do think that Justin Turner brings some things to the table that we need,” Tinnish said. “He is coming off a strong season with Boston where, frankly, he would have ranked towards the top in almost every offensive category on our team.

“The extra piece with him is the leadership and guidance element that is really hard to put on paper. We’ve heard he’s one of the best in the business when it comes to that.”

The 39-year-old Turner, a former World Series Champion with the Los Angeles Dodgers, is coming off a season where he homered 23 times and drove in a career high 96 runs. The California native also sported an .800 OPS (on-base and slugging percentage). 

The Jays will primarily use Turner as a designated hitter. 

As for returning players, Tinnish drew attention to one in particular. And although he started the 2023 campaign with Toronto, he certainly didn’t finish there with the club. 

“I think that Alek Manoah has something to prove, and is really determined, and has had a really strong offseason,” Tinnish said. “Knowing the work-ethic and the competitor that Manoah is, it would not surprise me if he had a really strong season this year.”

Manoah finished 2023 on the inactive list with Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate in the Buffalo Bisons.

“It’s something you wouldn’t have guessed or bet on, but I just feel he’s going to be a big part of this club in 2024,” Tinnish said. 

By early accounts, Manoah, who met with reporters Thursday in Florida, has definitely trimmed down upon arriving at spring training.  

“When you get your butt kicked, you just want to start a new year with a fresh slate,” Manoah said. “I’m super excited for the boys this year and super excited to get after it.” 

The Blue Jays first spring training game is Feb. 24 against the Philadelphia Phillies, while their regular season opener is March 28 in Tampa Bay against the Rays. 

Tinnish plans on scouting in the Dominican Republic, Columbia and Japan in the coming weeks and months before MLB’s July draft.

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