- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Moseby wasn't always such an accomplished fielder, though. "He used to be brutal in the Instructional League," says Barfield. "We still tease him about it. We had to be out on the field about 9:30 or 10, but he'd be out there at 8:30, up with the chickens, with a bazooka machine, taking grounders, flies, sliding to catch the ball. To see him in 1978 and see him now.... He's a Gold Glove now, no question about it."
In point of fact, all three play well in the field. Bell leads the league in assists with seven, while Barfield has five. On Thursday night his throw to the plate after a single to right caught Brett Butler, trying to score from second, 20 feet up the line. Butler was run back to third, where he met another Cleveland runner, Julio Franco, coming in from second base. Says Barfield with a laugh, "[ Cleveland pitcher] Neal Heaton told me, 'I don't know what happened. They told the guys in the meeting not to run on you, and the guy runs on you.' "
Upshaw hit a two-run homer on Sunday to give the Jays an early 2-0 lead, which should cheer him up. At one point over the weekend he was batting .229, and he sat in front of his locker, staring into space. Then he blurted out, "One of these days I'm gonna find me a hole four times." Moseby answered his friend by hitting three different notes on the one word, "You?"—meaning, of course, "What about me?"
Moseby and Upshaw aren't all that worried. They ventured to a novelty store in Cleveland on Friday and purchased some gag gifts. They bought rookie Louis Thornton some mints that would turn his mouth blue when he sucked them—if he sucked them. According to Moseby, "Willie asked him, 'Lou, you eat breakfast?' Lou says no. You know how rookies are always asking for stuff. So we gave him a mint, and nothing happened. He was so hungry he ate it instead of sucking on it." Toronto's version of the Mink-mans of Saturday Night Live did succeed in getting relief pitcher Ron Musselman to smoke an exploding cigarette Saturday morning. The Blue Jays are indeed loose—fairly soon after the cigarette, Musselman pitched four innings of excellent relief to earn the victory.
Caudill, something of a prankster himself, has remained relatively quiet this spring, although he did get a broadcaster with a cream pie. Along with his highly developed sense of humor, Caudill brought from Oakland a 90-plus mph fastball he can spot. In a few outings that spot too often was the middle of the plate, hence his three losses against four wins and a 4.38 ERA. Still, there are those nine saves. As Caudill says, "No save is overrated. Now, Lloyd Moseby—he's overrated." Moseby, who is sitting nearby, merely smiles.
On a more serious note, Caudill says, "I came from a club that won on occasion. This club is expected to win. I was putting too many demands on myself. I was trying to make every pitch too perfect. Then I realized that it wasn't what I could do that got me here but what I've done in the past. Now I'm getting more comfortable."
Whereas the Blue Jays of the past have had no relief—Caudill is two saves away from the Toronto single-season record held by Dale Murray—this team has a pen of plenty. Gary Lavelle, from the left side and the Left Coast (Giants), is 2-0 with three saves and a 2.37 ERA. Acker has his six, and Dennis Lamp, a bust last year, is 4-0 with an ERA of 2.43.
"The addition of Caudill and Lavelle took a lot of pressure off the guys already in the bullpen," says Whitt, who still shares the catching with Buck Martinez. "Pressure situations were something Lamp wasn't used to. He's in the ideal role for him now: long relief, spot starter. He's throwing more than just his sinker. Acker's got a slider this year and a changeup, too. Before, all he threw was his sinker. Batters are coming up to the plate and saying, 'When did he start throwing that?' "
Another thing the Blue Jays have never had before is a strong lefthanded starter, but they may have found one in Jimmy Key, who is 3-2 and is in the elite of American League starters with a 2.70 ERA. In fact, before Key broke the skein, Toronto had gone 614 games without a win from a southpaw starter.
Caudill is happy to be the team's savior, as long as you're not spelling it with a capital S. He's miffed because a Canadian magazine headlined a feature on him with the quote I COULD STRIKE OUT GOD IF I HAD THE CHANCE.