Jays play contagious: Elliott notebook

* Your first-place Blue Jays are on a roll, and their play is contagious. Just ask ball boy Lucas Lucchetta. That and more in Bob Elliott's notebook. .... 2014 Canadian draft list ... Canadians in the Minors ... Canadians in College 2015 Canadian draft list Letters of Intent


By Bob Elliott

Hitting is contagious for Your first-place Toronto Blue Jays.

So is fielding, for Your first-place Toronto Blue Jays.

First baseman Edwin Encarnacion has been diving, sliding and making over the shoulder catches in short right like a frisky Andres (Big Cat) Gallaraga.

Right fielder Jose Bautista’s arm is as strong as Ellis Valentine’s and as accurate as Jesse Barfield’s.

And something else is happening along the right field line at the Rogers Centre for Your first-place Blue Jays.

Down the right field line, not to be confused with the seniors patrolling foul ground in San Francisco or the Hooter’s girls at Philadelphia Phillies games, ball boy Lucas Lucchetta can be found sitting on his stool.

Lucchetta leapt to try to spear a foul liner by Oakland A’s Derek Norris on Friday and came down, head over heels on the other side of the blue wall, landing in the aisle as the ball hit another fan.

“I was trying to protect the fans, to do my job, there are a lot of young people at the game,” said Lucchetta, 18, outside the visiting clubhouse at Rogers Centre.

When Marnie Starkman’s see-all cameras showed the replay on the Jumbotron, fans cheered Lucchetta’s effort or gave him high fives.

Another part of his job is warming up right fielders between innings. When Oakland’s Josh Reddick came out, he pretended to applaud Woodbridge’s Lucchetta, who plays midget for coach Pat Russo’s Trillium team in Vaughan.

Torii Hunter is my favorite, he seems like a genuine guy,” said Lucchetta.

The door to the clubhouse opened and day-one employee Len Frejlich took a look, folded his arms and said “just saw you on Sportsnet and The Score highlights ... go ahead, tell him your nickname.”

Turns out Lucchetta’s nickname is “Prime Time,” like Deion Sanders.

Did he earn the nickname Friday?

No. Danny DeBenedicts, who also works the clubhouse, hung the monicker on him two months into his first season in 2012, since Lucchetta is on the big board so often.

Even the ball boys are going all out for Your first-place Toronto Blue Jays.

And if you think this first-place adjective is getting a workout, it’s because Sunday was the latest Your Blue Jays have been in first since July 14, 2000, under manager Jim Fregosi.

The Jays were in first in 2009, then went on an 0-for-9 Boston-Atlanta-Baltimore trip, falling from the top spot May 24.

Best crew in ball:

Someone showed crew chief Ted Barrett a stat sheet of reversed calls on Friday. Barrett’s crew of Paul Schrieber, Will Little and Mark Carlson had seven calls appealed under the new replay rules and none were overturned. No other crew, save for Bob Davidson’s (4-0), had more than three of their calls challenged and proved to be perfect.

The crew chief studied the stat sheet, shook his head and said “we’ve had some overturned ... these are home run calls.”

Barrett said his crew is umping the same as last year or five years ago, but ...

“The camera picks up so much, like a guy sliding head first who bounces off the bag, while the fielder applies the tag ... we can’t always see that with the human eye,” said Barrett. It’s tough for men with 20-20 vision and good instincts to match the big ump in front of banks of TV screens in New York that can freeze frame a play from three or more different angles.

Jays manager John Gibbons came out to argue a bang-bang play at first with Little and received the thumbs down from bench coach DeMarlo Hale. Gibbons told Little “guess I don’t see so well anymore,” and left.

The Barrett crew heads to New York as one of two crews to examine replays.

Born in Oregon, Schrieber’s mother and brother were born in Vancouver. His cousin Kelli Tobiason, born in Burnaby, B.C., stopped by to congratulate Schrieber for not missing a pitch while working the plate. Now, a Toronto resident, Kelli was with husband Toby Tobiason and son Reid, a former Royal York player.

On the Island

Six years ago Friday the legend of Brett Lawrie was born in the Dominican, as he hit five home runs in a doubleheader against pro pitchers. Not one fastball was below 90 MPH as Lawrie hit two to left, two to right and the final to straightaway centre. Scout Tom McNamara was there to see Lawrie and reported back to Brewers scouting director Jack Zduriencik, who selected Lawrie 16th over-all in North America.

Now, Seattle Mariners scouting director McNamara is in the Dominican to watch North York outfielder Gareth Morgan, expected to go in the first two rounds, and report back to M’s Zduriencik. Morgan singled in Friday’s doubleheader.

Indians say thanks

CC Sabathia started six times between Sept. 5 and the final day of the season, Sept. 28, 2008 for the Milwaukee Brewers. He pitched a complete-game, 3-1 win over the Chicago Cubs as the Brewers took the wild-card ahead of the New York Mets. The Brewers had reached post-season play since 1982.

Yet it was good news in Cleveland. The Brewers had dealt their former No. 1 pick Matt LaPorta, Jays former No. 1 Zach Jackson, minor leaguer Rob Bryson and a player to be named for the lefty. If Milwaukee didn’t make it, the Indians would acquire Taylor Green. If they did the player would be Michael Brantley.

LaPorta held down first base for two of the next four seasons with the Indians with 31 homers and a .694 OPS, while Jackson pitched 63 innings in two years, winning twice with a 6.11 ERA and Bryson never made the majors.

Brantley? In his fourth straight season as a every day outfielder, he is hitting over .300 this season with a .727 OPS as an Indian. Green, of Comox, B.C., has only had 140 at-bats with Milwaukee.

Hello first

Your Toronto Blue Jays awoke in first place Sunday morning. It’s a spot they had not occupied this late in the season since 2000. In fact, they have seldom been in first (averaging roughly nine days a year).

For example: 2014, nine days in first; 2013, zero; 2012, seven; 2011, three; 2010, eight; 2009, 44; 2008, one; 2007, 10; 2006, three; 2005, 12; 2004, zero; 2003, zero and 2002, one and 2001, 21.