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Notes: TD Ballpark renovations; Shaw; lineup

@KeeganMatheson
February 16, 2020

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays’ renovations to their Spring Training home at TD Ballpark are a more publicly visible part of their ongoing Dunedin project, but the biggest piece of the puzzle is the extensive overhaul of their training complex. Club president and CEO Mark Shapiro led a tour

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays’ renovations to their Spring Training home at TD Ballpark are a more publicly visible part of their ongoing Dunedin project, but the biggest piece of the puzzle is the extensive overhaul of their training complex.

Club president and CEO Mark Shapiro led a tour of the facilities on Sunday along with members of the high performance department, player development and Florida operations staff. “Collaboration” has long been one of the core principles of this front office, but the organization believes that this project will be the physical manifestation of that with results that will eventually be seen, clearly, on the field at Rogers Centre.

The Blue Jays visited training complexes around baseball, but also expanded to the NFL, NCAA and other professional sports leagues when planning the renovations. At the heart of the project is the value of bringing the Major League and Minor League sides together, which was not the case with the previous complex. In doing this and vastly expanding the club’s resources, the Blue Jays hope to individualize their work to each player with fewer limitations.

Shapiro envisions the finished project to allow all arms of the organization to align, overlapping or collaborating when it’s beneficial to the individual player. This could mean anything from nutrition to analytics, strength and conditioning or mental performance. It also, Shapiro hopes, will give Blue Jays players a new winter home, bringing more players together in Dunedin instead of working with their individual trainers.

“We’ll have every opportunity to be the best at what we do in this building,” Shapiro said, standing in the centre of the large, oval-shaped room that will eventually house 72 Major League lockers.

The bulk of the project is expected to be completed and functioning in July or August, with some extra pieces to follow. Among the notable sights were:

• More batting cages, increasing from five to 12
• More mounds, with added room for cameras and technology
• Raised ceilings on the batting cages (20 ft.) to track ball trajectory
• A covered infield (turf)
• A resistance hill (seven-degree slope)
• Multiple Minor League clubhouses and a new Major League clubhouse (72 lockers)
• A women’s locker room (12 lockers)
• Classroom space and “collaboration rooms” (flexible space)
• Significantly larger strength and conditioning space, including cardio on the second floor, a stretching area and movement studio (yoga, stability)
• Pitching and hitting labs with added technology and cameras
• Hot and cold plunge pools, conditioning and rehab pool
• A 3,000 square-foot kitchen with Major League and Minor League dining rooms

Shaw ready to reset

Travis Shaw’s performance at first base this season is a major variable in this Blue Jays’ lineup, and could stretch the heart of the batting order for manager Charlie Montoyo. Shaw tinkered with a swing change in 2019, which contributed to a poor year after posting a combined 7.0 Wins Above Replacement for the Brewers in 2017-18. He feels confident that he’s back to his old self.

“A change of scenery is sometimes needed,” Shaw said. "For me, it’s a fresh start. Last year, I think it was well documented the struggles that I had, and I’m ready to put that behind me. Having a new start makes it a little easier to do that -- new team, new league. I’m excited to re-energize me and I feel really good going into Spring Training this year.”

Line it up

Montoyo envisions having Shaw hit in the fifth or sixth spot in the lineup, and the top third is taking shape, too. With Bo Bichette expected to lead off, Cavan Biggio seems likely to slide into the No. 2 spot.

“Biggio was so good at the top of the lineup last year,” Montoyo said. “He got on base all the time -- second half, August and September was outstanding -- so I see Biggio being at the top of the lineup again. Maybe second right now, that’s what I’m thinking.”

If '19 was good to Bichette, get ready for '20

Sharing is caring

Left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu threw 40 pitches on Sunday at the Blue Jays’ complex. He was also chatting with some of the younger pitchers and shared his cutter grip, which is something you can expect to see more of.

“I’m all for sharing and exchanging ideas,” Ryu said. “If they were on a different team, things would be slightly different, but we’re a team, we’re going succeed or fail together, so I’m all for sharing. Anything that I can help them with, I’m more than happy to share."

Keegan Matheson covers the Blue Jays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @KeeganMatheson.