DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays fans will get a little bonus coverage this spring after it was announced that MLB Network is set to air the club's first game of the Grapefruit League season on Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. ET.
MLB Network made its debut in Canada earlier this year and is available to subscribers of Rogers Cable. The network will air Wednesday afternoon's game against the Phillies as part of its overall package that includes coverage of 200 Major League games in Spring Training.
There will be a total of 18 Blue Jays games available on MLB Network, and eight of those can be watched in Canada. Two games will be live with another six to air on a tape delay.
The live games are the one on Wednesday against the Phillies and another one coming on March 23 against the Yankees. The tape-delayed games include: March 1 vs. the Orioles, March 3 vs. the Twins, March 4 vs. the Phillies, March 9 vs. the Astros, March 20 vs. the Phillies and March 27 vs. the Phillies.
Rogers Sportsnet also plans to air 10 games this spring. Every Blue Jays game during Spring Training can be heard either on MLB.com or Sportsnet The Fan590.
Sierra working at first to increase versatility
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Moises Sierra began taking ground balls at first base on Sunday afternoon in preparation for a potential bench role with the Blue Jays.
Sierra began working out at the position during the winter as he attempts to crack the club's 25-man roster at the end of camp. He is out of options on his contract and cannot be sent to the Minor Leagues without passing through waivers.
The 25-year-old is an outfielder by trade but may have to prove he is capable of playing at least one other position in an emergency situation to hold down a spot on the roster.
"We wanted to look at it a little bit," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "If we got in a pinch, could he do it? How much he'll play? I wouldn't anticipate seeing a whole lot of it, but we're looking at it.
"He doesn't look too bad out there, but that's practice. Normally, everyone looks good in practice. When the game speeds up, it's a different story. But we'll see; he doesn't look too bad."
Gibbons seemed skeptical about Sierra's abilities at first but is at least keeping an open mind. The Blue Jays already have Edwin Encarnacion and Adam Lind available at the position, but whoever doesn't start there will usually get the nod at designated hitter.
That's why the Blue Jays would like to increase Sierra's versatility. If either Encarnacion or Lind had to come out of the game the club could turn to Sierra instead of losing the DH. It's not an ideal situation but is something the club hopefully won't have to do very often.
Sierra is an early favorite to earn a job in part because of his contractual status. The club still sees some upside in his bat, and he has been mentioned as a potential platoon partner with Lind at DH when there is a left-handed pitcher on the mound.
The Dominican native is a career .252 hitter with a .725 OPS in 84 games at the big league level. He regained a favorable status in the organization after he was called up as an injury replacement late in the 2013 season and proceeded to record 15 extra-base hits in just 107 at-bats.
Lawrie glad Canada got the gold in hockey
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Brett Lawrie has some bragging right in the Blue Jays' clubhouse after Canada took home the gold medal in men's ice hockey at the 2014 Winter Olympics on Sunday morning.
Lawrie is the lone Canadian out of 60 players at Toronto's big league portion of Spring Training. Catcher Mike Nickeas also has ties to Canada but spent most of his life in the United States and was understandably torn between his allegiances this week.
The 24-year-old Lawrie doesn't share the conflict of interest, so he was the only one on the Blue Jays' roster who was able to come away with the last laugh when Canada defeated the United States on Friday and then beat Sweden, 3-0, on Sunday in the gold-medal game.
"I guess everybody was on point a little bit, just kind of nervous, because nobody knew [which country would win]," Lawrie said. "If Canada loses they're going to slam me, and if America loses I'm going to slam them. Obviously, I won."
Lawrie grew up playing baseball and basketball, so there wasn't much time for hockey, but he said he has always respected the sport. There also wasn't much of an opportunity to watch the gold-medal game because he was busy working out and getting treatment prior to another day at the ballpark, but he kept tabs on the score throughout the morning.
Back home in Canada, the country came to a standstill with all eyes glued to the television. Hundreds of miles away in sunny Florida there wasn't quite the same level of anticipation, but the Olympics were always on in the clubhouse as players kept an eye on the results.
"It probably would have been a little bit more exciting if I had watched the full game, but every time I peeked back, we just kept going up another goal," he said. "Very positive, and obviously Canada is pumped up about it too, so it's good."
Shortstop Munenori Kawasaki had a lot of fun joking with reporters this week about the tournament and predicted a 2-1 victory for Canada in the gold-medal game. He got the winning team right but came up with the wrong score and was prepared to eat his words after the result.
"My bad," said the Japanese infielder, whose son was born in Toronto last summer. "My son is a canuck. I said Canada would win. ... Strong, very good game. Congratulations Canada."