Toronto Blue Jays Lose Grapefruit League Opener, Jesse Litsch Shaky in Start

Dino MoriAnalyst IFebruary 28, 2008

The Toronto Blue Jays opened their Grapefruit League schedule today, dropping a 4-1 decision to the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Florida.

Pitcher Jesse Litsch, vying for the fifth spot in the starting rotation, gave up all four runs in two innings. He enters his first Spring Training looking to impress manager John Gibbons, but didn't accomplish that today.

Last season, the 22-year-old right-hander turned some heads coming up from Double A ball to start in 20 games, compiling a respectable 7-9 rookie campaign.

Another pitcher in the hunt for the fifth man's job is Gustavo Chacin. The left-hander worked one inning against the Tigers, giving up just one hit. He is returning to the Blue Jays following shoulder surgery a year ago. 

Toronto's batting lineup included the debut of Travis Snider, a hot- shot  designated hitter Baseball America rated as the 11th top prospect in the major leagues. He had a so-so day at the plate, walking once and grounding out in two at bats.

The Blue Jays will play the Tigers again in Dunedin on Friday. It's expected that Shannon Stewart will make his return to the Toronto lineup for the first time in almost a decade. He signed a minor league contract with the ball team this past month.

Stewart, who turned 34 on Monday, was originally drafted by the Jays in 1992. He played eight seasons in Toronto, patrolling left field and primarily batting leadoff.

Stewart, a career .298 hitter, was brought in by general manager J.P. Riccardi and could supplant Reed Johnson for the left fielder's job.

with files from