TORONTO -- The offseason is almost over for baseball fans north of the border as the Blue Jays will open Spring Training in 11 days.
Pitchers and catchers are set to report on Feb. 22, with position players following later that week. Fans have been waiting more than four months for the moment: Baseball is almost back.
In the days leading up to the start of Spring Training, MLB.com will run a six-part series that takes a close look at every aspect of all 30 teams. In this first installment, called "On the Rebound," the focus is on the Toronto players who will be looking to have a bounce-back season:
RHP Steve Delabar: He enters camp as one of the biggest wild cards on the roster. Two years ago, Delabar was an All-Star, but in 2014, he was sent to the Minors midway through the season, and he never returned due to a combination of injuries and command issues. With a bullpen that lacks depth and proven arms, the Blue Jays desperately need the 31-year-old to get back on track. Delabar has overcome major obstacles before.
1B Justin Smoak: He has shown flashes of power, but for the most part, he hasn't been able to live up to the hype that came with his selection in the first round of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. The native of South Carolina has an opportunity for a fresh start in Toronto after signing a one-year contract worth $1 million. That could prove to be a bargain if Smoak can increase his home run numbers at hitter-friendly Rogers Centre, but a slow start could result in him not sticking around long.
2B Maicer Izturis: He was a disappointment both at the plate and in the field two years ago, and he entered the 2014 season looking to make amends. Izturis started off on the right note by hitting .286 in 11 games, but he tripped on the dugout steps and suffered a major knee injury. The starting job at second base is up for grabs, and it could belong to Izturis if he plays well in camp.
SS Jose Reyes: After he injured himself on Opening Day in 2014, Reyes missed the minimum amount of time and didn't require another stint on the DL. But even though he played almost every day, it was clear injuries hampered his performance. A shoulder injury caused issues with Reyes' throwing, and the turf appeared to wear down his legs as the season progressed. The Blue Jays installed a new artificial surface that supposedly will be easier on the players' bodies. Reyes will be hoping that turns out to be true.
OF Michael Saunders: He was limited to 78 games in 2014 because of several injuries. Even though that was the only year Saunders had major health issues, he was labeled an injury-prone player in Seattle. He has a shot at redemption in Toronto, and his underrated performance at the plate could go a long way to helping replace the production of Melky Cabrera.