Hinske looking good at first
By MIKE GANTER -- Toronto Sun
Toronto Blue Jays' (from left) Frank Catalanotto, Vernon Wells and Eric Hinske walk to the batting cages as rain starts to fall at Jays Spring Training in Dunedin, Fla. on Friday Feb. 25, 2005. (CP PHOTO/Frank Gunn)
Infield coach Brian Butterfield says those worried about Eric Hinske making the move across the diamond can rest easy. Hinske will open the season as the Jays' first baseman after three years over at third with free-agent acquisition Corey Koskie taking over the hot corner.
"He has looked very good, very natural," Butterfield said of Hinske at first base. "He's very upbeat. That's as upbeat as I've seen him coming into camp."
Butterfield said his one concern about the move was Hinske getting used to turning the 3-6-3 double play.
"Sometimes when you bring a guy over from the other side of the diamond he's used to turning glove side on the double play," Butterfield explained.
"Now he's got to go arm side and move his feet the other way. Sometimes that's strange for a guy making that move, but he's done it before playing at school and earlier on in his minor-league career. He said the throw feels good and easy."
Even before he had seen Hinske take a ground ball at first, Butterfield knew the Jays were ahead of last year.
"The one thing that we will have with Hinske moving over to first is more range," he said. "That's not a reflection on Carlos (Delgado) either. How much range can you have on those knees?"
The Jays have a new toy in camp that is getting plenty of attention.
ProBatter, a pitching machine that allows hitters to watch the ball coming out of a life-size pitcher's hand on a video screen, is set up just inside the Jays batting cage for the next few days.
It's a loaner and for the most part the players who have tried it out have come away impressed.
The machine costs about $70,000 for a major-league club to purchase. So far Jim Child, the general sales manager for ProBatter Sports has four major-league clients -- the New York Mets, Cleveland Indians, Chicago White Sox and Boston Red Sox.
Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said he's 50-50 right now on whether the Jays will buy it. He wants more feedback from the players.
The machine can throw eight different pitches to five different locations on the plate. It also can be programmed to throw outside the strike zone.
Jays hitting coach Mike Barnett said it's a very useful tool, but points out he's not the one who has to okay the expenditure.