JOHN C. COTEY
SCOUTING REPORT: Despite high hopes to start the season, the Blue Jays have struggled, posting the third-worst road record in the American League and are just a game out of last place.
It's a good time to catch the injury-plagued Blue Jays. They haven't gotten the offensive production they envisioned from some of their top players, with the exception of Vernon Wells (.300 BA, team-high nine HRs) and Frank Catalanotto (team-high .327 BA). But they are both on the disabled list. Carlos Delgado, coming off a 42-homer, 145-RBI season, is batting just .227 with eight homers and 32 RBIs. He also is on the DL. Until they get healthy, the Blue Jays are cobbling together a lineup of no-names and rookies.
The AL's 2003 Cy Young Award winner, Roy Halladay (seven strong innings last week to help end the Rays 12-game winning streak), starts today. He has won three of his past five starts against Tampa Bay. Ted Lilly , Josh Towers and Miguel Batista will pitch the other three games in the series.
CONNECTIONS: Much of the Blue Jays coaching staff has local ties - manager Carlos Tosca is a Valrico resident, USF grad and coached at Tampa's King High; third-base coach Brian Butterfield was an assistant at Eckerd College; pitching coach Gil Patterson lives in Odessa. Chris Gomez, who has started at every infield position for Toronto this season, played for the Devil Rays in 2001 and 2002, and catcher Kevin Cash is a Gaither High grad. Rays left-hander Mark Hendrickson was acquired from the Jays over the winter. Trever Miller also pitched for them last season. Outfielder Jose Cruz started for the Jays from 1997-2002. Bench coach John McLaren spent eight years managing in the Toronto system and was the Jays third-base coach from 1986-90.
SEASON SERIES: The Rays lead 2-1.