Its tough enough for the Blue Jays to be playing in the American League East to get even a sniff of the postseason. Bill Melton Jersey . Then youve got to worry about the other up and coming teams in the two weaker divisions in the "Junior Circuit". If you had to peg one team whom the Blue Jays will have to reckon with in 2014, it would be Kansas City. The Royals finished with an 86-76 record a year ago and missed the playoffs. However that record was 12 games better than the Jays 74-88. One bad month really cost KC a spot in the playoffs a year ago. They went 8-20 in May. Every other month, they were over .500 including 17-10 in September. Kansas City scuffled a bit to score runs in 2013 averaging four per game, but the Blue Jays werent all that much better at 4.40 runs per game. The big difference was in runs allowed by the starting rotation and the bullpen. The Royals starters had an ERA of 3.87 to the Blue Jays 4.81 which was well above the American League average of 4.17. As highly touted as the Blue Jays bullpen was, its ERA of 3.37 was no match for the Royals 2.55. This is in part because of the Royals spacier ballpark, but KC only gave up 155 home runs over the course of the season to the Jays ugly total of 195. If you want to talk team speed, the Blue Jays stole 112 bases, which was better than the league average of 95, but the Royals were even better swiping 153. You could argue the Royals will be even better in 2014. Although they lost Ervin Santana as a free agent, they added durable lefty and former Angel Jason Vargas to plug into the rotation. They also have an elite closer in Greg Holland who saved 47 out of 50 a year ago and a workhorse starter to lead the rotation in James Shields, who through 228.2 innings last season. The Royals also upgraded at second base and right field. They filled a major hole at the keystone by signing former Tiger Omar Infante to a four-year deal worth $30.25 million and traded for speedy right fielder Norichika Aoki, who will take over as their leadoff hitter. KCs secret weapon might just be 22-year-old right-hander Yordano Ventura. Though only 511", he throws consistantly in high 90s and has been known to hit between 100 and 102mph on occasion. Hes already earned a spot in skipper Ned Yosts rotation and is being touted as one of the top candidates for rookie of the year. Since Pittsburgh made the playoffs last season, Kansas City and the Blue Jays are the two teams that have gone the longest between post-season appearances. The Royals havent made it since they won the World Series over St. Louis in 1985. The Blue Jays of course, havent made it since winning their second straight World Series in 1993. The Blue Jays play the Royals seven times this season, from April 29 through May 1 in Missouri and then back in Toronto from May 29 through June 1. Those are seven games of their first 58 that could well prove whether the Jays are good enough to contend for a Wild Card spot, or which team of these two will wind up with the longest postseason drought when the 2014 season is all said and done. Around Spring Training Injuries turned right-hander Josh Johnson into arguably the biggest disappointment of the Blue Jays season a year ago. Unfortunately his luck hasnt changed much in San Diego. The 30-year-old right-hander is going to be out 4-to-5 weeks with a strained right forearm. Tough blow for the Texas Rangers. Their young second baseman Jurickson Profar is out 10 to 12 weeks with a slight muscle tear in his right shoulder. Profar was expected to shoulder the load at second since Ian Kinsler was dealt to Detroit as part of the Prince Fielder deal. Profar hasnt proven himself as a big league hitter yet, but his glove and arm are world class. Yes, its only spring training, but the Yankees have got to be a bit concerned that Derek Jeter is only hitting .114 and Mark Teixiera only .120. Great to see David Ortiz is probably going to end his career in Boston. After all hes been pretty much the face of the franchise for the last 10 years. Ortiz agreed over the weekend to a one-year, $15 million extension for 2015. He also has a vesting option for 2016 and there is a club option for 2017 by which time Ortiz will be 42 years old. Erik Bedard is looking for new gig. The 35-year-old southpaw and native of Navan, Ontario opted out of his deal with Tampa Bay after the fifth starters job went to 24-year-old Jake Odorizzi. Bedard just didnt want to go back to Triple-A at this stage of his career. Experienced Help We mentioned a couple of articles ago that a former Blue Jays third baseman, Roy Howell, was managing in Triple-A this season at Tacoma. Now another Ex-Jay, Tom Lawless, has taken over as interim manager at Oklahoma City in the Pacific Coast League. Lawless will be filling in for Ton DeFrancesco who was diagnosed with cancer while working in the parent Astros camp this spring. DeFrancescos cancer was caught early enough that he is expected to make a full recovery. Yolmer Sanchez Jersey . Toronto has lost six of its last eight games but is coming off Thursdays 7-3 victory at Kansas City. Juan Francisco and Colby Rasmus both went deep for the Blue Jays, who are second in the American League with 34 home runs on the season. Michael Jordan Jersey . -- Byron Scott is taking over the Los Angeles Lakers with the vocal support of his fellow Showtime greats. http://www.whitesoxteamshop.com/White-Sox-Reynaldo-Lopez-Kids-Jersey/ . - Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery was so busy in free agency he didnt mind having a few extra weeks to prepare for the draft.(SportsNetwork.com) - The Toronto Blue Jays will look to snap a three-game skid Friday night when they continue their road trip in the opener of a three-game set against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Toronto has lost seven of its last nine and was just swept in three games by the New York Yankees. Thursdays 6-4 setback saw the Blue Jays get swept in a series of at least three games for the first time since Sept. 10-12. The Jays lost Thursdays finale despite two-run homers by Melky Cabrera and Edwin Encarnacion as Drew Hutchison yielded four runs over 4 1/3 innings. "We didnt play good baseball," Hutchison said. "Thats what it is. Its over now. We just have to move on and continue forward." The Blue Jays will shuffle their rotation, adding an extra arm in the form of right-hander Liam Hendriks. Hendriks will make one start to give the rest of the rotation some extra time off, including R.A. Dickey. The knuckleballer will instead start on Sunday instead of tonight after exiting his last start early with a groin injury. Hendriks made two starts earlier this season for Toronto, going 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA. He is 6-0 with a 1.92 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) at Triple-A Buffalo. "We think its important to protect that rotation a little bit," manager John Gibbons told Torontos official website. "(Hendriks) will come along, he pitched well for us in a couple of outings earlier in the year. Hopefully, he gives us a boost too. Hell be here for one start and hell go back (to Buffalo), and it will give those guys an extra breeather. Frank Thomas Jersey. ." The 25-year-old Hendriks has never before faced the Reds. Toronto is 8-4 versus Cincinnati dating back to the 2003 campaign. Mat Latos, meanwhile, aims to build off an excellent season debut on Friday evening as he gets the call for the Reds. A 14-game winner in three of the last four seasons, Latos had a rough go of things to begin the year. He underwent knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus in the spring, then had his return delayed due to an elbow strain while rehabbing. Latos finally took the mound on Saturday versus Milwaukee and got a no- decision despite hurling six scoreless innings. He scattered two hits and fanned four without a walk, exiting after 87 pitches in a game the Reds eventually lost. "(It) was emotional for sure," said Latos. "First time back in a while. I felt good. The outcome kind of sucks but thats baseball. Well come back strong tomorrow." Latos will face the Blue Jays for the second time in his career looking to get the Reds back into the win column after they lost a 4-3 decision to the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday. They had won three in a row and six of their last seven. Devin Mesoraco tied the game for Cincinnati with a solo homer in the top of the ninth, but Pittsburgh scored the winning run in the 12th frame on a two- out, bases-loaded walk. Cincinnati righty Homer Bailey went 5 2/3 innings, giving up nine hits and three runs while striking out five. "I feel like throughout the whole game, they had maybe one or two balls that were hit real solid," said Bailey. Cheap Ducks Jerseys Cheap Coyotes Jerseys Cheap Bruins Jerseys Cheap Sabres Jerseys Cheap Flames Jerseys Cheap Hurricanes Jerseys Cheap Blackhawks Jerseys Cheap Avalanche Jerseys Cheap Blue Jackets Jerseys Cheap Stars Jerseys Cheap Red Wings Jerseys Cheap Oilers Jerseys Cheap Florida Panthers Jerseys Cheap Los Angeles Kings Jerseys Cheap Wild Jerseys ' ' '