Toronto Blue Jays: 5 Big Questions for the 2013 Regular Season
Spring training is just around the corner.
And while Toronto may be seen as a hockey town, there is no doubt that more attention will be paid to the Toronto Blue Jays this spring training, as they prepare for the regular season in sunny Dunedin, Florida.
With the Jays now seen as one of the favorites to win the 2013 World Series, all the newfound excitement in Toronto will be accompanied by pressure.
There are, however, some lingering questions for this Blue Jays squad.
Here are five storylines to follow in this year's spring training for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Who Will Start for the Jays at Second Base?
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For some reason, it seems as though there is a second-baseman controversy this offseason in Toronto.
Some believe that Maicer Izturis' experience will win out when it comes to the starting job, while others think that the superior talent of Emilio Bonifacio will end up winning starter duties.
Either way, the job will be decided in spring training, and second base is sure to be the fiercest position battle of the preseason for the Jays.
Fans should pay close attention, as this positional battle could also have major implications on the batting order for the Jays in 2013.
Will Injuries from 2012 Have an Impact in 2013?
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While the 2012 edition of the Toronto Blue Jays saw a multitude of players go down to injury, the major concern will be how Jose Bautista bounces back.
Considering that the injury was to his wrist, there should be some questions about how that will impact his production in 2013.
Can Bautista find a way to return to full strength during spring training, or will his production lag into the regular season?
Jays fans will need to tune in to the team's spring games to find out.
Can Josh Johnson Return to Being the Dominant Pitcher He Was a Few Years Ago?
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Entering the 2013 MLB season, the Toronto Blue Jays possess one of the most talented starting rotations in all of baseball.
Talent, however, does not always translate to success on the field, and there are still some major question marks surrounding Toronto's starting five.
With a few of them being injury-prone and a few having down seasons in 2012, it's more than possible that the rotation fails to live up to expectations.
Josh Johnson is one of the pitchers who will be the center of attention come February.
Not only is he set to become a free agent following the 2013 season, but he also has a history of injuries, and last year he struggled after coming back from major arm surgery.
But if Johnson can find a way to boost the speed on his fastball and get the bite back on his slider, he can easily be one of the best pitchers in baseball.
Spring training will give the Jays and their fans a glimpse into how far he's come in his recovery and whether he can return to being the dominant pitcher he was a few years ago in Miami.
Will Ricky Romero Bounce Back This Season?
Young gun Ricky Romero was one of the Toronto Blue Jays' few bright spots in 2011.
Posting a 2.92 ERA and earning an All-Star spot, Romero seemed like he was becoming a top-of-the-rotation arm for the Jays for a long time to come.
His stats from 2011, along with his outgoing personality and his presence on social media, made him a clear fan favorite in Toronto.
This past season was a major step back for the 28-year-old hurler, as he registered a disappointing 5.77 ERA and 1.67 WHIP.
There's no doubt that the fans still support Romero in Toronto, but he'll need to cut at least 1.5 points off his ERA in 2013 for him to silence his critics.
How Will the Blue Jays' Bullpen Fare?
The emergence of Casey Janssen and announced return of Darren Oliver has helped reassure Jays fans in a big way regarding the bullpen.
Outside of those two, though, there are still some major question marks for the Jays.
First, can Sergio Santos be an effective setup man?
Before his injury last year, he was absolutely atrocious in Toronto, and the year before that he was mediocre in Chicago, registering 30 saves and posting a 3.55 ERA.
Then there's Esmil Rogers and Jeremy Jeffress both of whom have struggled in their past few seasons at the major league level.
Southpaw Brett Cecil can be streaky and is also a wild card in the pen.
Then there's Steve Delabar and Brad Lincoln, both of whom showed promising signs in 2012, but have yet to really impress at the major league level.
Spring training will be a great opportunity for the Jays to see what they've got in terms of their bullpen going forward and if it will be enough to carry them to the postseason for the first time in two decades.