One morning in Dunedin, Fla., a National League manager was watching the Blue Jays work out. "They remind me of one of those circus cars where all the clowns keep getting out," he said. "Toronto opens the clubhouse door and one potential star after another pops out."
G.M. Pat Gillick is already blending the vets of the '85 division title with the next wave of talent. After giving Damaso Garcia to the Braves, Gillick opened the clubhouse door and out stepped four more second basemen, all of whom may prove to be better—Mike Sharperson, Manny Lee, Nelson Liriano and Santiago Garcia. With George Bell, Jesse Barfield and Lloyd Moseby, the Jays have the best outfield in the majors, but the trio of Glenallen Hill, Sil Campusano and Rob Ducey may eventually be as good.
Kelly Gruber, who can hit 20 homers and steal 20 bases, is finally getting his shot at third base. If team leader Willie Upshaw doesn't regain his power after two years of wrist problems, then 6'3" Fred McGriff will bring his 30-homer potential to Toronto. Catcher Ernie Whitt and shortstop Tony Fernandez are givens.
When the Jays won the AL East, they led the league with a 3.29 ERA. Last year the ERA rose to 4.08. The single biggest question mark follows Dave Stieb's name. Beset by elbow problems, he fell to 7-12 last year. Stieb knows he eventually faces surgery to remove a spur from the elbow, but he says, "I think I can get by with it." Which is what the Jays are hoping to do with their pitching staff.
Had the most hits (212) of any shortstop in this century.
Has batted higher with runners on than with bases empty in each of last seven seasons.
Ryne Sandberg only other player with at least 30 SBs and 70 RBIs in each of last three seasons.
Schmidt only other with at least 25 HRs, 85 RBIs and .275 BA in each of last three years.
First AL outfielder since Joe DiMaggio (1937-38) with 20 or more assists two years in a row.
Career breakdown: .265 vs. lefthanders, .269 vs. righthanders.
Made major league debut with Boston on Sept. 12, 1976—his pitcher was Luis Tiant.
Throw out his first seven games (0-3, 13.05 ERA) and he was 14-8 with a 2.70 ERA.
Tied for AL lead with 15 no-decision starts last year.
Only active pitcher with more than 1,000 innings (actually 1,768.1) and no balks.
He allowed only three home runs in his last 18 starts.
Career batting averages: .248 by lefthanders, .200 by righthanders.
Opposing righthanded batters hit .135 against him, 2nd lowest figure in last 12 years.