The Blue Jays glimpse into the future and like what their rotation could be

There were moments in their first spring appearances that could have easily derailed Blue Jays pitching prospects Simeon Woods Richardson and Alek Manoah.They were the first two pitchers to take the mound against the New York Yankees on Wednesday night and, from the moment the Yankees lineup was posted, teammates prodded Woods Richardson. Had the 20-year-old right-hander seen it? Did he know who he was about to face? An A-list of New York hitters: DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner. Even Jays pitching coach Pete Walker wasn’t sure what to expect from Woods Richardson and Manoah.But Woods Richardson gave up just one walk in two innings of work, and Manoah just one hit — and a hit batter — in his two innings.The 23-year-old Manoah could have stumbled. He opened his second inning of work by hitting Judge. He could hear the names fans were calling from the stands. And in the next at-bat, the 23-year-old righty fell behind 3-1 to Aaron Hicks.Jays manager Charlie Montoyo found himself thinking, “Let’s see what he’s got now.” Manoah reset against Hicks and won the eight-pitch at-bat, throwing a steady diet of fastballs inside before freezing the veteran centre-fielder with a slider. He struck out four of the seven batters he faced.“These kids were not nervous and that’s a big sign,” Montoyo said after the game.It’s part of the reason why they’re the leading names, behind right-hander Nate Pearson, to be among the next generation of Jays starting pitchers.Woods Richardson’s reaction to going head to head with New York’s finest?“If my first time’s going to be against the Yankees, I want to face the Yankees,” he said.Manoah’s response to the names he was called after he plunked Judge?“It’s just fun, man,” he said. “There’s an atmosphere again, there’s a game going on ... It’s a beautiful thing.”That shared poise impressed Montoyo and perhaps shouldn’t be surprising. Woods Richardson and Manoah’s inner monologues were remarkably similar as they pitched. Stay within yourself. Don’t try to do too much. Be yourself. Your stuff plays.“We’re really similar personalities. We love to have a good time and just really love to soak it in and just have some fun,” said Manoah, who said he hangs out with Woods Richardson away from the game, and the two talk baseball non-stop. He likened watching Woods Richardson from the bullpen early in the Yankees game to be being the second golfer on the green: The first person to putt shows the line. “He was showing me pitch to contact, throw strikes, let the defence work,” said Manoah, who gained confidence with each of his teammates’ pitches.There is no friction between Toronto’s group of up-and-coming arms, Manoah said. “Being around them, it elevates my game, it elevates their game and it just makes us all better,” he said. “The best part is we’re having a good time while we’re doing it and weren’t not picking at each other.”Woods Richardson agrees. “Whoever’s on the mound that day, we give full support to that guy because we believe he’s going to win the ball game for us,” he said. Winning is a big part of their relationship. Neither Woods Richardson nor Manoah is afraid to publicly share their intent: They want a World Series.‘We’re always hungry and we always want more,” Woods Richardson said. “We have a great group of guys who want to win championships, who want to pound the strike zone, who want to get better every day.”In fact, Manoah believes it would be inconsiderate to the Jays organization not to have the winning mentality. The front office has made significant investments in the big-league team and Toronto’s facilities in recent years, letting the players know they’re ready to win.That speaks volumes, Manoah said. “It’s a lot of high expectations, a lot of hard work that goes in, but to shoot for anything less, it just would be disrespectful.”Laura Armstrong is a Star sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @lauraarmy

The Blue Jays glimpse into the future and like what their rotation could be

There were moments in their first spring appearances that could have easily derailed Blue Jays pitching prospects Simeon Woods Richardson and Alek Manoah.

They were the first two pitchers to take the mound against the New York Yankees on Wednesday night and, from the moment the Yankees lineup was posted, teammates prodded Woods Richardson. Had the 20-year-old right-hander seen it? Did he know who he was about to face? An A-list of New York hitters: DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner.

Even Jays pitching coach Pete Walker wasn’t sure what to expect from Woods Richardson and Manoah.

But Woods Richardson gave up just one walk in two innings of work, and Manoah just one hit — and a hit batter — in his two innings.

The 23-year-old Manoah could have stumbled. He opened his second inning of work by hitting Judge. He could hear the names fans were calling from the stands. And in the next at-bat, the 23-year-old righty fell behind 3-1 to Aaron Hicks.

Jays manager Charlie Montoyo found himself thinking, “Let’s see what he’s got now.”

Manoah reset against Hicks and won the eight-pitch at-bat, throwing a steady diet of fastballs inside before freezing the veteran centre-fielder with a slider. He struck out four of the seven batters he faced.

“These kids were not nervous and that’s a big sign,” Montoyo said after the game.

It’s part of the reason why they’re the leading names, behind right-hander Nate Pearson, to be among the next generation of Jays starting pitchers.

Woods Richardson’s reaction to going head to head with New York’s finest?

“If my first time’s going to be against the Yankees, I want to face the Yankees,” he said.

Manoah’s response to the names he was called after he plunked Judge?

“It’s just fun, man,” he said. “There’s an atmosphere again, there’s a game going on ... It’s a beautiful thing.”

That shared poise impressed Montoyo and perhaps shouldn’t be surprising. Woods Richardson and Manoah’s inner monologues were remarkably similar as they pitched. Stay within yourself. Don’t try to do too much. Be yourself. Your stuff plays.

“We’re really similar personalities. We love to have a good time and just really love to soak it in and just have some fun,” said Manoah, who said he hangs out with Woods Richardson away from the game, and the two talk baseball non-stop.

He likened watching Woods Richardson from the bullpen early in the Yankees game to be being the second golfer on the green: The first person to putt shows the line.

“He was showing me pitch to contact, throw strikes, let the defence work,” said Manoah, who gained confidence with each of his teammates’ pitches.

There is no friction between Toronto’s group of up-and-coming arms, Manoah said. “Being around them, it elevates my game, it elevates their game and it just makes us all better,” he said. “The best part is we’re having a good time while we’re doing it and weren’t not picking at each other.”

Woods Richardson agrees. “Whoever’s on the mound that day, we give full support to that guy because we believe he’s going to win the ball game for us,” he said.

Winning is a big part of their relationship. Neither Woods Richardson nor Manoah is afraid to publicly share their intent: They want a World Series.

‘We’re always hungry and we always want more,” Woods Richardson said. “We have a great group of guys who want to win championships, who want to pound the strike zone, who want to get better every day.”

In fact, Manoah believes it would be inconsiderate to the Jays organization not to have the winning mentality. The front office has made significant investments in the big-league team and Toronto’s facilities in recent years, letting the players know they’re ready to win.

That speaks volumes, Manoah said.

“It’s a lot of high expectations, a lot of hard work that goes in, but to shoot for anything less, it just would be disrespectful.”

Laura Armstrong is a Star sports reporter based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @lauraarmy

Source : Toronto Star More