Sports Richard Griffin: Luke Maile looks to bring some pop to back up catcher position

15:27  14 february  2018
15:27  14 february  2018 Source:   Toronto Star

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By Richard Griffin . DUNEDIN, FLA.— Luke Maile has emerged as the front-runner to back up catcher Russell Martin this upcoming season, and the 27-year-old believes he can bolster a position that was a weakness for the Blue Jays last season.

Luke Maile , who was hitting well for Durham, especially the past two months, goes 1-for-3 Saturday. "Without a doubt," manager Kevin Cash said. "That goes along with any player that we bring up . "(Get) back to being consistent, reliable and be capable of what I'm doing," Odorizzi said.


DUNEDIN, FLA.—Luke Maile has emerged as the front-runner to back up catcher Russell Martin this upcoming season, and the 27-year-old believes he can bolster a position that was a weakness for the Blue Jays last season.

While Maile struggled to a .146 average and a .406 OPS, the Jays were 20-16 in his 36 starts behind the plate. He threw out 35 per cent of the 19 runners attempting to steal. He knows there is room for improvement on both sides.

“I’m extremely confident with what I can do, but last year, I’m happy to say, is in the past for me,” Maile said. “I’m realistic, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask for me to be an offensive threat. I mean I’m six-three and 225 pounds. I should be able to drive the ball fairly consistently. I’ve done it in the past.”

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d argue that the backup catching position is weak and in need of an upgrade. on 7- Troy Tulowitzki (SS) 8- Russell Martin (C) 9- Kevin Pillar (CF) Bench- Luke Maile (or back - up catcher upgrade) Bench- Yangveris Solarte Bench- Pearce (or Gran

Coincidentally, Luke Maile and Miguel Montero also “provided” that amount to the Jays. He showed some pop (a .241 ISO) and provided league average hitting (100 wRC+). Catching is a nuanced position and if the Jays’ front office is serious about contending again in 2018, they’ll likely look for

Toronto Blue catcher Luke Maile waits for pitchers prior to the official start of Spring Training in Dunedin, Florida on Monday.© Frank Gunn Toronto Blue catcher Luke Maile waits for pitchers prior to the official start of Spring Training in Dunedin, Florida on Monday.

Maile addressed the fact that all of a sudden he is the veteran in the room among the organization’s list of young prospects behind the plate.

“I think there’s things that I can learn, still from Russ obviously, but even from these young (catchers),” Maile said. “I remember being in their shoes.”

AXFORD HAD OPTIONS: Much like the Mounties, the Blue Jays like to believe they always get their man. In this case, after he came close to signing with Toronto in 2015, the Jays finally signed hard-throwing right-hander John Axford to a minor-league contract with an invitation to major-league camp. It has been a late-developing free-agent landscape.

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Luke Maile gets a fresh start behind the plate with the Jays, after things didn't end well with the Rays. By Richard Griffin . Maile is a solid defensive catcher , throwing out a key runner attempting to steal in the sixth inning on Wednesday. “I feel like that type of stuff happens to everybody at some point in their career,” Maile said.

On the other hand, the rotation, bullpen, and back - up catcher positions haven’t been addressed in the same way. That hasn’t happened yet either, and as things stand the Jays will roll with someone like Luke Maile , or perhaps give a shot to one of the catchers in their minor league system.

“I really wasn’t stressed out about it, in all honesty,” the Port Dover, Ont., native shrugged. “There were plenty of teams that were talking to me. It just seemed like it was just a matter of time before something would work out.”

Axford went on the disabled list with a shoulder strain last year — the first DL trip of his career — and was out of the game after being released by the A’s. He had a career-high 6.43 ERA in 22 games, well over the 3.71 mark he has averaged over nine seasons.

“Coming back from (the DL), I was still throwing hard and I still felt really strong. It’s just a matter of putting those things together out there on the mound, out there on the field.”

PETRICKA BELIEVES: Right-hander Jake Petricka was a valuable part of the White Sox bullpen in 2014 and 2015 — he saved 14 games as a fill-in closer in 2014 — but has been troubled by injuries since. A hip impingement ended his 2016 season and he had to deal with nerve and tendon issues last year. He appeared in just 27 games and had an ugly 7.01 ERA.

“Injuries happen, but the plan is always to come back stronger from the mistakes you made to get injured in the first place,” said the 29-year-old Minnesotan, who will be a long shot to begin the season in the majors. Still, he believes in himself.

“Right now my goal is to get healthy and show it,” Petricka said. “I know when I’m healthy what I can do and I’ll show them that.”

Richard Griffin: Blue Jays’ Randal Grichuk working to add baserunning to his power game .
DUNEDIN, FLA.—Standing atop the hill on Field 3 at the Mattick Training Centre, Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna razzled a little hesitation wrinkle at the top of his windup, much like the Stro Show, then fired his fastball. Newcomer Randal Grichuk was not fooled. He kept his hands and weight back, uncoiled a powerful right-handed swing and drove the ball deep over the fence in right-centre field. Three batters later, as Osuna left the mound following his last pitch, he bro-hugged his catcher, as is the custom, then quietly offered an aside to Grichuk, “I’m glad we’re teammates.

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