TAMPA, Fla. -- Right-hander Kyle Drabek made another strong case for a spot in the Blue Jays' starting rotation with five scoreless innings against the Yankees in Tuesday night's 4-3 Toronto win.
The 24-year-old Drabek is currently in the running for the No. 5 job in the rotation, and his chances greatly improved earlier this week, when Dustin McGowan was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis in his right foot.
Drabek now jumps to the forefront of the competition -- which also includes Aaron Laffey -- if McGowan is unable to go at the start of the year, and Drabek drove that point home even further with an impressive outing against New York.
"I hope he comes back as soon as possible," Drabek said of McGowan. "I'm just trying to go out there and make all the starts I have left and just compete.
"When you get on the mound, it's still baseball. You just have to make sure you can go out there and pitch your game."
Drabek executed all three of his pitches against New York and took another positive step forward in his ability to maintain both his mechanics and composure while under pressure. The inability to maintain his cool was one of Drabek's biggest downfalls last season, but another year of experience appears to be turning things around.
The native of Texas has been able to work his way out of trouble this spring and not overthrow with runners on base. That has also allowed his delivery to stay in line and not cause his body to fall off to the first-base side.
Drabek maintained those positive results against New York, and even though he recorded only one three-up, three-down inning, he managed to keep the Yankees off the scoreboard.
"Sometimes I get out of it, but that's when you have to step off and remind yourself to stay back," Drabek said of maintaining a consistent delivery. "Last year, I ended up changing it up a few times, which definitely couldn't have helped. This year, working on it every day, playing long toss and working on it in the 'pen, it seems to help out pretty good.
"Sometimes [my] heart rate gets up, and I kind of want to rush it. I'll start leaning forward, and that's when my arm has to catch up with my body. That's when we're trying to keep me back so everything's in line."
Drabek has a 3.14 ERA in five Grapefruit League games this spring.
Status unclear as Lind sits with tight back
TAMPA, Fla. -- Adam Lind will be held out of all baseball activities for at least the next three days because of tightness in his lower back.
Lind was a late scratch from the Blue Jays' Grapefruit League lineup against the Yankees on Tuesday night after he felt his back tighten up during batting practice.
Toronto's first baseman was then sent out to be examined by a local doctor, and an immediate timetable for his return beyond the three days is currently unknown.
"He just felt like he couldn't get loose during stretches, and then as he was taking BP it didn't free up, so that's why we scratched him and obviously [scheduled] the exam and follow-up," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said.
Lind suffered through lower back problems for the vast majority of the 2011 campaign, and Farrell admitted the symptoms were similar in this situation.
Last season, Lind was placed on the disabled list on May 17 -- retroactive to May 8 -- and didn't return until June 4. The native of Indiana was hitting .313 with an on-base-plus-slugging percentage of .858 at the time of the injury, but he proceeded to hit just .229 with a .691 OPS the rest of the way.
The discomfort lingered for most of the year and clearly impacted Lind's ability in the batter's box. This was the first time in the spring that Lind experienced similar issues.
"He would go through his normal maintenance, and nothing ever prevented game activity," Farrell said of Lind's status prior to Tuesday. "If there was any kind of stiffness, we certainly would have taken every precautionary measure, but tonight was the first night that he has felt the tightness in his lower back."
Lind's status becomes a situation the Blue Jays have to monitor for the rest of the spring and throughout the regular season.
"We fully anticipated having to," Farrell said. "Any time any player's got any pre-existing condition or something where maintenance is required, we're always monitoring that. So, yeah, this will be something that we will have to keep a close eye on."
Offspeed his focus, Morrow shows ability
TAMPA, Fla. -- Right-hander Brandon Morrow continued his progression toward the start of the regular season with five innings in a Minor League game against the Pirates on Tuesday afternoon.
Morrow allowed two runs -- both unearned -- on four hits while walking three and striking out seven in five-plus innings. He threw 59 of his 96 pitches for strikes and topped out at 95 mph.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell was in attendance for the first four innings and came away pleased with the overall results.
"He was strong -- he threw four pitches for strikes," Farrell said. "His fastball command today was much improved over his last outing. ... He pitched to get to a 95-pitch limit that we'll hopefully get all of our pitchers to. It was a very good day for him."
Morrow is expected to open the season as Toronto's No. 2 starter. He has the ability to throw his fastball in the mid- to upper 90s, complementing it with a hard slider, but it's the effectiveness of his offspeed stuff that will ultimately dictate how successful of a year he has in 2012.
The ability to establish a curveball and changeup has been Morrow's No. 1 priority this spring, and that work continued against Pittsburgh.
"I think the one thing he found last year, the use of his offspeed pitches -- particularly his fastball and his curveball -- are hopefully going to make his fastball that much more effective and hopefully get some earlier outs and some counts that will enable him to work deeper into games," Farrell said.