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Grandy gets reps at leadoff, homers in 1st AB

MLB.com @gregorMLB

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Curtis Granderson was in the leadoff spot for Toronto's first game of the spring on Friday, a 2-1 win, but -- despite his first-inning homer off the Phillies' Nick Pivetta -- it doesn't sound like he's a realistic candidate to hit there during the regular season.

Granderson went deep on the third pitch of the game by lifting a solo shot over the right-field wall. It was an impressive debut, and he does have 864 career starts in the No. 1 spot, but it sounds like Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has another candidate in mind to bat first.

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DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Curtis Granderson was in the leadoff spot for Toronto's first game of the spring on Friday, a 2-1 win, but -- despite his first-inning homer off the Phillies' Nick Pivetta -- it doesn't sound like he's a realistic candidate to hit there during the regular season.

Granderson went deep on the third pitch of the game by lifting a solo shot over the right-field wall. It was an impressive debut, and he does have 864 career starts in the No. 1 spot, but it sounds like Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has another candidate in mind to bat first.

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Gibbons had a simple explanation for Granderson's spot in the order for the Grapefruit League opener: He wanted his starting left fielder to be guaranteed a couple of at-bats, which Granderson accomplished by also hitting into a double play in the second inning.

Video: PHI@TOR: Granderson discusses joining his new team

"The thinking was, he might get those two at-bats a little bit quicker, and he has done it before," said Gibbons, who was then asked about potential leadoff candidates. "[Devon] Travis would be a good one. Other than that, I couldn't tell you. We'll see."

The vast majority of Granderson's work out of the leadoff spot came earlier in his career, but the veteran slugger did start 34 games out of the top spot with the Mets in 2017. The 36-year-old Granderson posted a .323 on-base percentage in 147 games last season.

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Travis is the clear favorite to bat leadoff in front of Josh Donaldson and Justin Smoak. The fourth-year infielder had a .291 on-base percentage in 50 games following a slow start in April, and he has a .331 OBP in 213 career games. Travis is still working his way back from last year's knee surgery, but he is expected to make his spring debut on Sunday.

As for that first-inning home run, Gibbons joked that maybe Granderson's performance might raise expectations a little too high.

"I'm sure he won some fans over in his first at-bat," Gibbons said. "He's probably already a legend in Canada ... if he keeps doing it."

Video: Granderson on Marjory Stoneman Douglas memorial caps

Paying their respects
The Blue Jays honored the victims of the recent tragedy in southern Florida by wearing Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School hats for Friday's game against the Phillies. Stoneman Douglas was the location of last week's school shooting that resulted in 17 deaths.

Granderson grew up in Chicago, but every spring for the past 14 years, he has called Florida home. Through stints with the Tigers, Yankees, Mets and now Blue Jays, Granderson knows the area well, and like many others around Major League Baseball, felt personally impacted by the tragic events.

"It's crazy something that like happened and that it's something we have to keep talking about," Granderson said. "So many people get their lives taken from them at such a young age. Who knows what the potential could have been for them? But hopefully this will help continue to shine a light on the incidents that are going on. Hopefully continue to get people to keep coming together and hopefully find ways to prevent this moving forward."

Video: Baseball pays tribute to Stoneman Douglas victims

Ready for takeoff
The Orioles were the only team in Major League Baseball that stole fewer bases than the Blue Jays last season. Toronto finished the year with a paltry 53 stolen bases on the year, and while that's not expected to change a whole lot this year, there is at least one addition who might look to shake things up on the basepaths.

Right fielder Randal Grichuk is coming off a season in which he stole just six bases, but the 26-year-old has above-average speed and should have a little bit more freedom to roam in Toronto. Grichuk and Kevin Pillar are likely the only regulars with a shot at reaching double digits in steals. Granderson has swiped just 10 over the past two years combined.

"I like to think that I'm somewhat fast, and hopefully that plays a big part in my game," said Grichuk, who walked and singled during Friday's spring debut.

Up next: Right-hander Danny Barnes will take the mound when the Blue Jays travel to Lakeland for a road game against the Tigers on Saturday afternoon. Barnes is not getting stretched out as a starter, but instead will pitch one inning before handing things off to his fellow relievers. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET, live on Gameday Audio.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

Toronto Blue Jays