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Blue Jays like their team but still have questions to answer at spring training

02/05/2015 07:17 EST | Updated 04/07/2015 05:59 EDT
TORONTO - The bullpen, second base and Aaron Sanchez's role remain question marks for the Toronto Blue Jays heading into spring training.

The Jays finished third in the American League East with a disappointing 83-79 record after a roller-coaster 2014 season. There has been significant roster turnover since.

General manager Alex Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons met the media Thursday before joining president and CEO Paul Beeston in comfy chairs atop the Blue Jays dugout at the Rogers Centre, to answer fan questions at the Jays' annual state of the franchise gathering.

Behind them, a pristine new artificial surface covered the field. The team hopes to replace it with natural grass in 2018.

Beeston, the franchise's first hire who is entering his final season at the Jays helm, drew a standing ovation from the fans.

Season-ticket holders downed free food and drinks before watching a promotional video to the sounds of "Come With Me Now" by Kongos.

"A World Series championship is our only goal. In 2014 we fell short," the video stated.

Beeston promised the fans that his hope was to exit after a playoff run. But there's some work to do first.

"As strong as we are and as good as we feel about this team, there's some questions that need to be answered in spring training," said Gibbons.

The 22-year-old Sanchez will be given a chance to start but Anthopoulos said there was a scenario that he could end up in the bullpen. Sanchez was given a chance to play closer at the end of last season after Casey Janssen, now with the Washington Nationals, lost form after being laid low by a stomach bug.

Left-hander Brett Cecil could also emerge as a closer.

"Those two guys can certainly do it. We have all the confidence in the world that they can," said Anthopoulos. "Are we the strongest bullpen and team with them in those roles? That's why spring training will be important."

Having Sanchez start seems to be the preferred option, though.

"He's got the chance to be one of the better starters in baseball, I think we all feel," said Gibbons. "Time will tell."

Second base, as it stands now, will come somewhere from Ryan Goins, Maicer Izturis, Steve Tollesen, Munenori Kawasaki and newcomer Devon Travis.

"It's there for the taking if someone wants it," said Gibbons.

The Jays added some big names in the off-season in the form of catcher Russell Martin, third baseman Josh Donaldson and outfielder Michael Saunders.

"We feel good about those," said Gibbons. "But you can never have enough pitching. We feel good, we just haven't answered the question who's pitching where."

Melky Cabrera, Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, Casey Janssen and Adam Lind have all left via free agency or trade.

Toronto is hoping for a bounce-back season from reliever Steve Delabar.

"The talent is there, but we'd like to upgrade the depth," Anthopoulos said of the bullpen.

Gibbons says he likes the character of the clubhouse, citing a good mix of youth and experience. But more moves are possible.

"The off-season is not over yet," said Anthopoulos.

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