MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- The Blue Jays will head north for a few days with games here in Memphis on Friday and in Louisville on Saturday before opening the season back in sunny Florida.

General Manager J.P. Ricciardi said there were many reasons to make the trip.

"One, we wanted to break up the monotony of Florida, and knowing we were going to be opening in Florida, we didn't want going over to St. Petersburg to feel like an extension of Spring Training," Ricciardi said. "I think just trying to get these guys together a little bit more, get used to travelling, playing in a different place, in some different weather, just change it up a little bit."

There's also the financial windfall two Major League games in minor league parks bring. Ricciardi said the Jays will clear somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 for the two games.

But some players were grumbling about the trip north. One player, who preferred not to be named, wondered aloud, "What if someone gets hurt. Is that worth it?"

The fears were a result of a wet, damp afternoon in Memphis and a forecast of more wet weather in Louisville.

Jays catcher Gregg Zaun believes even the naysayers will look back at this trip as a good thing later in the year.

"I think it's a good idea, because we are definitely saying this is where Spring Training ends and this is where the regular season starts," Zaun said. "Even if it's just a short little trip like this.

"I'm sure we have some guys who will be wondering why we need to do this, but I think when they look back, they'll see a definite line drawn. Spring Training was over and the regular season had begun."

Jays center fielder Vernon Wells agreed.


"It's something our front office thought would be a good idea, and hopefully it works out for us," Wells said. "I thought it would have been good to go south, maybe go to Fort Lauderdale for a couple of days, but we won't know. This is certainly a little chillier than Florida."

Just a scare: That comebacker Ted Lilly took off his right ankle forcing him out of a minor league game after just seven pitches on Thursday wasn't as bad as it first appeared. Lilly was back at Knology Park on Friday showing no signs of any damage. He threw long toss with pitching coach Brad Arnsberg prior to the team charter leaving for Memphis on Thursday.

Arnsberg said Lilly is still on track to pitch April 10 when he comes off the disabled list. Lilly arrived at Spring Training with tendinitis in his left shoulder and was placed on the disabled list March 25.

Change of plans: The Blue Jays had planned to designate right-handed reliever Kerry Ligtenberg for assignment but opted Thursday to release the veteran pitcher.

Ligtenberg was coming back from a year in which an arthritic condition in his hip saw him struggle for almost the whole season. He finished the year with a career high 6.38 ERA.

Quoteable: "We figured our reward was we flew up here. If we had a bad record we would have been bussed up here." -- Blue Jays manager John Gibbons when asked if he had ordered the Grapefruit League championship rings yet

Coming up: The Blue Jays will fly to Louisville after Friday night's game for their final Spring Training contest. Dave Bush will start for Toronto and take on left-hander Aaron Harang of the Cincinnati Reds. The team will return to Tampa after the game and work out at Tropicana Field on Sunday in St. Petersburg.