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Jeffress nails spot on Jays’ opening day roster

South Boston News
Jeffress / March 28, 2013
Former Comet Jeremy Jefffress will begin the 2013 Major League Baseball season with the Toronto Blue Jays.

Jeffress had been battling Brett Cecil for a spot in the Jays’ bullpen.

Both hurlers will break spring camp with the big club, although neither has long-term job security at this point. Toronto begins the season April 2 at home against Cleveland.

In a report from Dunedin, Florida posted on the Blue Jays website, writers Gregory Chisholm and Adam Berry wrote, “Relievers Brett Cecil and Jeremy Jeffress were informed on Wednesday morning that they have made the Blue Jays’ Opening Day roster.

“Cecil and Jeffress entered camp competing for one spot in the bullpen, but the club has opted to start the year with eight relievers now that third baseman Brett Lawrie will begin the season on the disabled list.

“Both relievers were informed of Toronto’s decision during individual meetings with pitching coach Pete Walker and manager John Gibbons, the website reported.

“Even though the 25-man roster is set, the competition between Cecil and Jeffress is far from over. When Lawrie returns from a strained right oblique muscle, the Blue Jays are expected to carry only seven relievers,” according to the MLB report.

“That likely will result in either Cecil or Jeffress being cut from the team. Both relievers are currently out of options on their contract and cannot be sent to the Minors without first clearing waivers. The battle will continue, but for now the Blue Jays have at least bought themselves some extra time.

“Going in, they could both pitch any time,” Gibbons said. “It gives us an extra arm. They get a chance to show us what they can do.”

Jeffress encountered some difficulty this spring, with a so-so 9.00 ERA in 11 innings of work. Jeffress, who has at times in his career has battled control issues on the mound, issued nine walks, while striking out 12 batters. He allowed 11 earned runs, with a WHIP of 2.27, not considered a strong number.

The news became a big deal back in South Boston, as the Comet varsity baseball team was preparing for a home game last night against Gretna.

Comet pitching coach Kenneth Day, who has stayed in frequent contact with Jeffress, said, “I’m proud of him and I knew he had a chance to do well.

He stays focused and he’s come a long ways and he knows what it takes to stay there. He’s going to be fine.

“Hopefully, he’ll get a World Series ring one of these days,” said Day.

Comet head coach Kelvin Davis added this is major news in the community.

“Not only for the Comets, but for his family, and the community too.

Jeremy had all the talent in the world when he was here, and we just knew big things were going to happen for him. We’re glad to see that he’s stuck in there, and he’s got the breaks. We’re tickled to death about that,” said Davis.

“It’s a good day for Comet baseball here, plus for the Jeffress family,” said Davis, who continued to praise Jeffress’ work ethic.

Comet baseball assistant Shawn Torian said, “It’s a happy day for Halifax County and the baseball club here. We’re taking one of our products and he’s a big time player .... I wish him all the best, and hopefully he has a lot of success with the Blue Jays.”

Jeffress is the only Comet to play in the major leagues. He has had brief stints before, as the reliever broke camp with Kansas City a year ago, and has not been able to consistently stay in the majors. After the season, Kansas City cut Jeffress loose for cash considerations, but the hard-throwing right-hander got another opportunity with the Jays. Jeffress has been able to keep his very high level of velocity, which has gotten him more chances to prove his dependability in the majors.

Jeffress has previously carved out a 2-0 career record in the majors. He has a career ERA of 6.12, appearing in 28 games with Kansas City.

He has thrown 32.1 innings, with 21 walks and 29 strikeouts. Batters have a career .293 average against him and a WHIP of 1.86.

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