TRENTON – The scent of burnt sage lingering in the home clubhouse here in Trenton would have told you who was starting the Tuesday night series opening without having to watch.
Not only has Bowden Francis arrived in the Blue Jays organization since his acquisition on July 6 with some electric stuff, but he’s brought some new Zen energy with him to the Triple-A locker room.
“We’re already doing it,” manager Casey Candaele said with a warm laugh. “It’s mandatory now. We’ve got sage, we’ve got everything going.”
Francis dazzled in his second start with the Bisons on Tuesday night with a no-hitting hit in the seventh inning. In 12 innings since the rally, he’s allowed just two earned runs and 11 strikeouts.
“He works ahead, has good throws and is efficient,” said shortstop Kevin Smith. “It’s easy to play defense behind him because he works so fast. He gets a soft touch and pushes guys back with two strikes. You can’t really ask for much more from him.”
If there is any question about how Francis has fitted into his new squad, Smith has heaped glowing praise for the 25-year-old.
“When you get on a new team it’s not always easy so it’s a credit to him and who he is,” said Smith. “He’s sticking to his plan, his approach and his preparation. I think he has more in store and will only get better.”
The number of players meditating before the game seems to be increasing daily.
“It took someone like him to be so open about it and not be afraid to bring it to the pitch because a lot of the guys were doing it at home at their own pace, but were a little skeptical about it. what guys would say, ”Smith says. “It was cool to see guys open up and in the locker room it’s a much colder vibe. Everyone gets a little bit of their minds and knows what to do to prepare.”
With the Blue Jays in the thick of a playoff race and likely in the market to be buyers by the trade deadline, Smith, in the middle of a career year, surely catches the eyes of rival scouts like a coin. attractive for a potential agreement.
The 25-year-old beats .288 / .381 / .595 with 16 homers, 50 RBIs and a .975 OPS in 61 games.
Toronto, however, may have reasons to keep it out of reach.
All-star second baseman Marcus Semien is a free agent at the end of the season and since the team will eventually have to shell out a lot of money to keep Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, Smith could be considered a ready-to-go. -portable and cheaper. replacement at Semien.
The Blue Jays made a minor trade on Wednesday, sending relief pitcher Joel Payamps to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for cash consideration.
Payamps, who was recently nominated for an assignment, appeared in 22 games for Toronto and pitched with a 2.70 ERA.
Right-hander Patrick Murphy has been recalled from the Bisons.