KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Henderson Alvarez and Travis d'Arnaud could one day be dynamic batterymates for the Blue Jays. On Friday, they had to settle for Grapefruit League batterymates against the Astros at Osceola County Stadium.If d'Arnaud -- Toronto's No. 1 prospect, according to MLB.com -- is going to enjoy as seamless a transition to the big leagues as Alvarez did last year, he'll have to make some strides defensively, manager John Farrell said. "There's still some work to do on the receiving end," Farrell said. "He's a good offensive player right now. His consistency of blocking balls, of receiving -- those are areas that can look outstanding at times, and yet there are occasional lapses. We're doing all we can to tighten that up. That doesn't mean that he's a below-average catcher, by any means. But as he matures and gets accustomed to handling pitchers over the long haul, then he can anticipate a little more just by familiarity." As far as the bat is concerned, d'Arnaud showed it off Friday, smacking his first home run of the spring -- a two-run shot off Aneury Rodriguez in the sixth.
McGowan set to begin audition for fifth starter
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Dustin McGowan completed his long and tortured route back to the big leagues last September. And on Saturday, he'll begin the process of trying to nail down the Blue Jays' fifth-starter spot.After throwing a 25-pitch simulated session that drew rave reviews from those on hand Tuesday morning, McGowan was cleared for his Grapefruit League debut against the Astros in Dunedin, Fla., on Saturday afternoon at 1:05 ET. "The way he's thrown the ball early in camp here is impressive," manager John Farrell said. "As long as he goes out and pitches like he has early in camp, [he's fine]. We're not looking for anything additional." McGowan posted a 6.43 ERA in 21 innings last season, after a three-year absence because of multiple shoulder surgeries. Also this weekend, the Blue Jays will get their first Grapefruit League look at bullpen candidate Carlos Villanueva, who was slowed early in camp by a circulation issue in his pitching hand. "He's been fine," Farrell said. "He's slated to get into a game."
Gose ready to take next step in development
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- If you want to get truly technical about it, center fielder Anthony Gose, who came in off the bench for Friday's game against the Astros, was facing his former club.Gose was, after all, a member of the Houston organization for a few hours on July 29, 2010, before the Astros, who acquired him in the Roy Oswalt trade with the Phillies, flipped him to the Blue Jays for Brett Wallace. And so Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos landed a toolsy player he had initially targeted, to no avail, when the Blue Jays and Phils worked on the Roy Halladay deal. And Gose's time with the Astros was short and sweet.
"Maybe they'll retire my jersey," he joked. The Astros won't. But if Gose has his way, he'll be worthy of such acclaim in Toronto someday. "I want to be a star," he said. "I want to be a superstar." The next step toward that end result would be building on a 2011 Double-A season in which Gose showed some maturation, both in terms of getting on base (his on-base percentage rose from .332 in Class A in 2010 to .349 with New Hampshire) and making an impact on the bases. On the latter front, Gose stole 70 bases last season and was caught just 15 times. Compare that to 2010, when he stole 45 for Clearwater and Dunedin and was caught 32 times. "It was more of a mental issue," he said of that 2010 effort. "I let that part of my game get away from me. It was a humbling experience and made me focus." Now, the 21-year-old Gose is focused on taking the next step in his development, maturing and becoming more selective at the plate. He's also looking to make the most of the opportunities presented to him here in big league camp. Gose took advantage of one such opportunity Thursday against the Yankees, when he made a spectacular diving catch to rob Bill Hall of extra bases. In Friday's game, he showed some serious wheels in hustling for an infield single on a bouncer to short, but he was nabbed in his ensuing stolen-base attempt. "When my time [in camp] is up, my time is up," he said. "I know I've got to get more at-bats in the Minor Leagues and continue to improve my game offensively and stay consistent defensively and on the bases."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his columns and his blog, CastroTurf, and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.