Tall and lean and long a fan favourite, relief pitcher Jason Grilli has no shortage of admirers at the barricade near the Blue Jays clubhouse, the faithful calling for his autograph — despite the fact he’s just given up an uncharacteristic homerun, one so big, it almost arced into the stratosphere before landing well beyond the outfield fence.

Done for the day, Grilli strides along the first-base line and fans in bluebird team attire (some wearing his number) crowd down to the field for a closer look and bunch together where Grilli makes the turn to head into that clubhouse for a shower and maybe a little work with the pitching coach.

He pauses to chat with the fans and sign baseball after baseball, as well as pretty much anything that bears a Blue Jays logo. Grilli’s signing hand, which is also his throwing hand, is his livelihood, but he keeps on signing until someone calls out, “Jason, isn’t your hand getting sore?” He smiles wryly, and keeps it fixed on his face when someone else asks about that homerun that seemed to be headed for the stars. “That’s all right, I like astronomy,” he says and laughs, stomping red clay from his cleats as he finally walks away. “OK guys,” he calls back, “I’ve got work to do.”

Set on the Gulf Coast near Clearwater and St. Petersburg, Dunedin has hosted the Toronto Blue Jays for spring training since the team’s inception back in 1977… [read more at]