Lloyd Moseby isn’t giving up on the Blue Jays just yet. And he doesn’t think Toronto’s fan base should either.
While the Jays have hit an unquestionable rough patch — they’re 1-5 on their current road trip and 4-11 in August to dip to 3 1/2 games back of the final American League wild card spot — Moseby says the team has shown it’s got what it takes to get hot again soon.
“With the talent that they have, oh my goodness, all you have to do is just hang in there, don’t drop your head,” the former Toronto centre fielder said after helping run a Blue Jays Honda Super Camp in Medicine Hat, Alta., on Sunday. “I think it’s a tremendous team. We’ve got good hitting, timely hitting, our pitching is worthy.
“Absolutely we can put on a streak right now and come back and get into the playoffs.”
[Moseby2] Forgive Moseby for referring to the Blue Jays in the possessive. After all, he did spend 10 seasons in Toronto, and is among the franchise leaders in base-stealing, hits, home runs, RBIs, games played, total bases and more. He also still affectionately refers to the city — and the team — as his “home” despite also playing for the Tigers and the Yomiuri Giants in Japan.
Moseby, who was drafted second overall by Toronto in 1978, began his professional career with the now defunct rookie-class Medicine Hat Blue Jays of the Pioneer League. But until this weekend, he hadn’t been back to the city since he last played there.
Now 54, Moseby said Medicine Hat was barely recognizable 36 years after he left it. The population has nearly doubled from 33,220 — according to the 1976 census — to slightly over 60,000 today, renovations at Athletic Park have upgraded the home field on which he once played, and there’s a new supermarket that wasn’t there before.
“When I was (in Medicine Hat), there weren’t that many people, there wasn’t anything there. Now there’s a Safeway, there’s a lot of new things,” Moseby said.
The Portland, Ark., native is best known to Blue Jays fans for his role in the most highly regarded outfield trio in franchise history. Moseby, along with George Bell and Jesse Barfield, patrolled the outfield together at Toronto’s Exhibition Stadium for four seasons in the ‘80s, including the 99-win campaign of 1985 that earned the Jays their first American League East championship.
But Moseby also played on some bad Toronto teams, too — like the 1981 squad which finished a strike-shortened season 37-69.
Moseby says those struggles made the good times even sweeter.
“Coming from the worst team in baseball to the best team in baseball, that was a tremendous achievement what we did there,” he said.
Though Moseby wouldn’t compare his former Blue Jays outfield to the team’s present one, he did have good things to say about Toronto’s outfielders — especially Melky Cabrera, who will become a free agent at the end of this season.
“Melky is a tremendous player,” Moseby said. “If it’s my money, I (re-)sign him. Maybe they’ve got some kids in the minor leagues or they’ve got their eye on somebody else that I don’t know about. But if it’s my quarter, absolutely Melky’s on my ballclub.”
DOWN ON THE FARM
[Daniel-Norris2] Buffalo Bisons left-handed pitcher Daniel Norris could be on his way up to the big leagues soon.
The 21-year-old, who started the season in single-A Dunedin and made a brief stint at double-A New Hampshire before being promoted to Buffalo earlier this month, has dominated in his first two starts with the triple-A team, going 2-0 with a 0.77 ERA and striking out 23 batters over 11 2/3 innings. As Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos hinted in a radio interview earlier this week, Norris is likely to move up to Toronto — which has struggled with pitching lately — when big league rosters expand in September.
“No doubt we could see him,” Anthopoulos told Sportsnet’s FAN 590. “That was definitely part of the plan of having him moved up. He’s earned it. He’s pitched incredibly well.”
Other young pitchers — such as Marcus Stroman, 23, and Aaron Sanchez, 22, — have already shown promise with the Blue Jays’ big league squad this year. Norris, who was selected by Toronto in the second round of the 2011 draft, says the success of those two in particular has made him want to work even harder in the hopes he may soon join them.
“It’s great to see those guys doing so well,” the Johnson City, Tenn., native said. “We all have a common goal and they’ve gotten there. It makes me even more hungry.”
CANADIANS IN THE MAJOR LEAGUES
[Paxton] It’s been so long since Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton lost a decision, he’s probably forgotten what losing feels like.
Paxton picked up his sixth career MLB victory (and third of the season) on Friday as Seattle beat Detroit 7-2. The left-hander from Ladner, B.C., went six innings giving up one run on five hits while striking out two and walking one.
He hasn’t lost since Aug. 22, 2013, when he allowed eight runs in 4 2/3 innings of a triple-A game.
Paxton’s next start is scheduled for Wednesday against the Philadelphia Phillies.
NOTES: Pittsburgh C Russell Martin (Montreal) notched his 1,000th career hit — a double off Tigers pitcher Buck Farmer — on Aug. 13 in the Pirates’ 8-4 loss to Detroit. Martin now has 1,002 career hits. ... Cincinnati 1B Joey Votto (Etobicoke, Ont.) has been moved from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day with strained left quadriceps originally suffered on July 8. Votto is expected back sometime in September, but he has yet to resume baseball activities.
CANADIANS IN THE MINOR LEAGUES
— St. Louis Cardinals prospect Malik Collymore (Mississauga, Ont.) was 9-for-20 — including three RBIs — in his last seven games for the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Cardinals.
— Mariners prospect Tyler O'Neill (Langley, B.C.) was named the Midwest League player of the week after hitting .381/.480/.810 including two grand slams in six games for the single-A Clinton LumberKings.
— L.A. Dodgers minor leaguer Jamie Romak (London, Ont.) batted .391 last week, and hit up his 23rd home run of the season for the triple-A Albuquerque Isotopes.
-- Follow Melissa Couto on Twitter @throwinsmoke