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The focus is on ace left-hander Jon

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    February 6, 2018 6:50 PM PST

    BOSTON – The rumour mill is swirling in these parts as the hometown Red Sox spiral out of the American League playoff picture. Jadon Sancho Jersey . The focus is on ace left-hander Jon Lester, whos been a standout on two world champion pitching staffs (Boston in 2007 and 2013). According to a report in CSNNE.com, the Blue Jays are among as many as eight teams pursuing Lester. The report suggests the Blue Jays have been the "most aggressive" in their interest. What is true and what isnt is often disputed at this time of year. Lester has an expiring contract, about to test the free agent waters for the first time in his career, and the 30-year-old is expected to command an annual salary well above $20-million. He would be a perfect fit in Toronto. Hed also be a perfect fit with 28 other big league teams. Dont expect general manager Alex Anthopoulos to part with either of his star pitching prospects, Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez, who are now with the Blue Jays and each contributing significantly to the clubs pennant drive. Closer Casey Janssen, the longest tenured Blue Jay, didnt comment specifically on the Lester rumours but indicated the clubhouse is watching developments intently. "Need to? I dont know if need to is the right word but I think a lot of people in this locker room would like to," said Janssen of acquiring a significant asset. "Its been a while since weve made the playoffs. Its been a while since weve been relevant. Weve worked so hard to get to where we are and if theres a guy out there that can get us to the next level well embrace him like crazy and try and ride the wave with him. "Hopefully the front office is doing something, continuing to try to improve this team and make this thing a special season for us." Infielder Danny Valencia, acquired from the Royals on Monday for pitcher Liam Hendriks and catcher Erik Kratz, arrived in time for Tuesdays game at Fenway Park but wasnt in the starting lineup. As for the Red Sox, Lester is scheduled to start Wednesdays series finale. Manager John Farrell indicated right-hander Brandon Workman would take Lesters place in the event hes traded or that a deal is imminent. A chat with Kevin Seitzer The Blue Jays entered Tuesdays action where theyve been all season: the top 10 in the games major offensive categories. Toronto ranks first in home runs (129), ninth in walks (349), fourth in batting average (.263), third in on-base percentage (.331) and third in slugging percentage (.430). TSN.ca sat down with hitting coach Kevin Seitzer to discuss the season, the degree to which Blue Jays hitters have bought into his approach and the nature of todays strike zone. You can listen to the audio here. Below is the transcript: TSN.ca: Kevin, the teams won eight of 11 games coming out of the All-Star Break and it seems the bats have come around after a bit of a lull through June and the early part of July. What are some of the keys youve seen in the last couple of weeks? SEITZER: Well, I really started focusing, emphasizing big time more, getting back in the middle of the field because I really felt guys were … especially when Brett (Lawrie) went down it started, then Lindy goes down, then Eddie goes down and guys were really trying to step up and carry the weight and do too much and we got away from the things that we were doing to get us hot when we were smoking hot in May and it was getting back in to the middle of the field. If you focus on having good at-bats and the way I put it to the guys and continued to emphasize over the course of the last couple of weeks was weve got to focus on singling teams to death, just base hit, base hit, base hit, single teams to death and let the damage unfold and if were focused on singling teams to death well find ourselves in better counts, well still end up squaring up balls more consistently that can go the other way or to the pull side and thats when the at-bats got better. Thats what allows you to be more disciplined at the plate. These guys have got to stay aggressive, theyre going to swing at bad pitches, theyre going to get fooled but if you really have a plan and an approach thats really emphatically back through the middle of the field youre going to end up giving yourself a better chance to be consistent and thats what weve been doing and its been great because some of the guys whove come up from Triple-A are really having great at-bats right now and theyre contributing and thats what we need. Its been a good roll. The break couldnt have been more timely for the offence. TSN.ca: How long did it take you to push that message through or to have that message be received as well as it has been? I think you recognize that when you were hired, you were hired by a club that had developed a reputation and I think had earned a reputation as a free swinging team. SEITZER: That was my whole plan coming in was to, I dont want to take away power, I want to enhance power, I want to enhance run production, increase on-base percentage, generate more runs because thats the bottom line to winning ballgames from an offensive standpoint, youve got to score more runs than the other side and the more runs you can get day in and day out the better chance you give your club to win. Im as big a fan of home runs as anybody and I just felt like it was more that they were geared toward hitting the ball hard. It wasnt so much that they were, you know, Im just going to go up there and swing hard and just try and hit it hard, they were really just trying to have good at-bats and hit the ball hard but really they work on the middle of the field, they practice that way but then when you get in the game thats where you have to apply it and that was kind of the last little hump to get these guys over to where, okay, Ive got a shift on, Im going to work on hitting the ball the other way everyday in batting practice, maybe Ill have some confidence to try it in a game, boom it happens, they get an RBI, we get a rally going, we keep a rally going and then it just kind of fuels the fire. It hasnt hurt our home runs at all. When we left Oakland, we got swept out in Oakland, when we went to L.A. I had a long meeting with the guys and I just kind of went through the unfolding of the season and the ups and downs and keys that I saw that guys were doing consistently when we were good and then keys that we needed to make adjustments now that were not doing. It was very well received. Basically what I do is I go in I just spill my guts, just pour my heart out to them. Its something Im very passionate about, very convicted about it and when guys do the adjustment and they start to see the results from it thats when its really fun, very rewarding from my side. TSN.ca: Is Jose Bautista perhaps the prime and best example of how to beat the shift, Kevin? By that I mean, there were times when he would take the ball up the middle or the other way earlier this season and weve actually seen defences adjust. SEITZER: You take your hat off to him because hes primarily a pull guy, a home run guy, he gets paid to drive in runs and I take my hat off to him because hes putting the team first and thats the commitment that he made when I started, when I met him, when I started talking to him in spring training. He goes, whatever I need to do in order to help this team win, thats what Im focused on. Im seeing it. Im seeing it everyday but when the guys went down I saw him try to do a little bit more to try to pick up the slack and hes one Ive been trying to stay on to take your base hits, take your base hits and let the damage unfold. Thats when his hands start working again because when he gets big, tries to do too much, not only is he not hitting home runs, which he wants to do, but hes not even having good at-bats. When his hands start working, that guys got as quick a hands as anybody in baseball and thats when its fun because he can catch some balls out front without even trying and hit them out. TSN.ca: Weve talked at times over the course of the season about strike zones and home plate umpires and if youve had issues with a strike zone, youre probably one of 30 hitting coaches at some point this year that has. What is it you want your hitters to do, how is it you want your hitters to react when those situations arise? SEITZER: These guys dont want to hear it because its, oh back in the day it was way different, but I can attest to back in the day the strike zone was much  bigger than it is right now. I tell them the same things that I always tried to do as a hitter is dont change the zone. If you start expanding the zone because you think it might get called or it does get called, youre going to get yourself out anyway. You can get yourself out or you can let the umpire get you out but if you dont expand and you stay consistent and you handle the umpires in a professional manner youll have more success than what youll think. Thats the biggest thing. Home plate umpires are human. Theyre not going to be perfect and were not going to be perfect. There are times when guys are looking on one side of the plate, really locked in on it and then they get a pitch on the other side and their brain says that wasnt even close and then you go back in and look and you go, well, it wasnt that far off. It may not have been a strike but it was close to the edge of the plate, which if it was a ball off it was a strike when I played. That was something that you just understood. You didnt swing at it until you had two strikes. With two strikes you tried to protect that but not expand even more and thats the hardest part from a hitting standpoint, when you start feeling that youre trying to cover 20 inches, 22 inches, its impossible. With the pitching were facing you cant do it. Youve got to continue to hold on to your strike zone, dont deviate from it, hunt your pitch and let the results be what they are. TSN.ca: You work long hours, you prepare everyday but how does your job change when the team is doing as well as it was in May to how it was performing in June? SEITZER: You have to continue to stay the course. You have to be consistent with the message. Especially being my first year, you have to let these guys personalities unfold and sometimes they dont want to hear a certain message at a certain time and you have to know when you can give them something, when you need to let them go a little bit and then work youre way in to bringing them back to where they need to be. You cant get frustrated, you cant get mad, you cant panic. They cant sense anything different than the way I was when things were going good. I may just not be walking around with as big a smile on my face but as far as our message, the preparation, the meetings, every advanced meeting Ill have a little point from the last series of things that I liked, of things that Id like to see adjustment-wise, here are some things going in that this pitching staff will do compared to the past, the advanced video that theyre going to be watching is going to see us being vulnerable at x and so we have to counter that by locking in on whatever it is. Theres always a little different that I might said and sometimes, you know, you may come out of a good series when you sweep somebody, stay right there, dont change a thing, whatever it is. The consistency is the biggest thing you have to show these guys on a daily basis whether youre going good or bad because thats what my expectation is out of them is not get too high, too low so I have to lead by example. TSN.ca: Adding up to 100, how would you break down your job? Coach, teacher, psychologist, how do you break those facets down? SEITZER: Coach and teacher are kind of the same thing. Its probably 60-percent coach, teacher and 40-percent psychologist and some days it may be 80-percent psychologist depending on what were going through. Its amazing the things that I learned through my career how hitters, and I was one of them, will search for mechanical adjustments as soon as things start to go awry you start to tweak mechanics. Its my head, its my stance, its my set up, its my hands, I need to raise them, I need to lower them, I need to move them back, move them in and what I found through my last few years of playing is the brain will totally dictate what position, what consistency in your swing youll have. When things start to go awry I go right to the brain and not to the mechanics. There may be a mechanical adjustment or two but its always the brain thats the underlying culprit when things start to go awry and youve got to go fix that first. TSN.ca: Kevin, thanks very much for this, appreciate it. SEITZER: All right, youre welcome. Mikel Merino Jersey . -- Canadas Nicole Vandermade won the Four Winds Invitational on Sunday for her first Symetra Tour title, closing with a 4-under 68 for a one-stroke victory. Raphael Guerreiro Jersey . - Doug Kalitta led Top Fuel qualifying Friday in the NHRA Nationals at Maple Grove Raceway with a 3. ANAHEIM, Calif. -- From the on-deck circle, Justin Smoak couldnt blame the Angels for walking Robinson Cano to load the bases in the third inning. When Smoak cleared those bases with a powerful double, he demonstrated why the new-look Seattle Mariners are a whole lot more than their new $240 million man. Brad Miller hit two homers, Erasmo Ramirez pitched seven innings of six-hit ball, and the Mariners beat Los Angeles 8-3 Tuesday night for their second win of the season. Abraham Almonte and Dustin Ackley also had RBI doubles as the Mariners followed up their 10-3 win on opening day with another surprising offensive barrage. They only needed a supporting role from Cano, who went 1 for 3 with two walks. "No doubt. Why wouldnt you?" Smoak said of the Angels strategy in pitching around Cano. "Theres a reason why you do it, but were all going to have to get big hits with guys on base this season." So far, its happening all the time: The Mariners scored 16 runs in their first 15 innings of the year while beating Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, their AL West rivals two best starters. Miller provided an unexpected power burst with a solo homer in the fifth and a two-run shot in the ninth, while Smoak has six RBIs in the Mariners first two games. "We just wanted to show them weve got some hitters," said Miller, who has four multihomer games -- but just 10 total homers -- in his career. "Weve got some depth. Starting on the road against two pretty good pitchers and a good lineup, getting two wins like that is a pretty great way to start a season." Ramirez (1-0) backed up his solid spring training with impressive work against the Angels star-studded lineup, striking out six without walking a batter. He retired 11 straight after squelching the Angels rally in the fourth inning. Wilson (0-1) laboured into the sixth inning for the Angels, who are off to their first 0-2 start since 2001. Raul Ibanez hit a two-run homer and Josh Hamilton had two hits for the Angels, who spent the entire spring determined to avoid yet another slow start, a prime reason for Los Angeles four-year post-season absence. "Theres a llot of things we need to do better," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. Hendrik Bonmann Jersey. "Were a better team than showed up the last couple of games. Were getting some guys on base, and our situational hitting was great all spring. We just have to do a little bit better job of it." Los Angeles went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position, dropping to 1 for 13 in the young season. Wilson, who had a career-best 17 wins last season for the Angels, needed 95 pitches to get through the first five innings against Seattle. He gave up eight hits and had eight strikeouts, including the 1,000th of his career. "Ive got a lot of confidence in our offence," Wilson said. "Thats the mentality you have to have with the guys we have. If you dont score and you give up a run early, everybody seems to press a little bit. If youre not winning, youre not having a good time." Ibanez has struck out five times already this season, but he trimmed his former teams lead with his first homer for the Angels in the fourth. Ackley chased Wilson on his 114th pitch, drilling a double off the right-field wall in the sixth. Albert Pujols doubled in the eighth and scored on Canos two-out throwing error, but Joe Beimel relieved Tom Wilhelmsen and picked David Freese off first base, ending the inning before throwing a pitch. Freese got his first hit for the Angels in the second inning, but is off to a 1-for-8 start. Mike Trout went 0 for 3 and was hit by a pitch on his bobblehead night. Seattle closer Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth in the former Angels relievers first appearance for his new team. NOTES: Seattle OF Stefen Romero went 0 for 4 in his major league debut. ... Angels relievers Dane De La Rosa and Sean Burnett will throw a simulated game in Anaheim on Wednesday before deciding the next step in their recovery from injuries. ... In just his fifth season as a starting pitcher, Wilson fanned Kyle Seager for his 1,000th career strikeout. The former Texas reliever is the 41st active player to reach the milestone. ... Mariners DH Corey Hart got his first hit for his new club, an infield single in the sixth. Cheap NFL Jerseys Cheap NFL Jerseys China Cheap Jerseys From China Cheap NFL Jerseys Authentic Wholesale Jerseys China Cheap NFL Jerseys China NFL Cheap Jerseys ' ' '