08/07/10 3:20 PM ET
Mills auditions for spot in next year's rotation
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
With a solid front four of Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil and Brandon Morrow, the Blue Jays may only have one rotation vacancy next spring. If the club looks to fill that spot internally, the top candidates would seem to include Marc Rzepczynski, Jesse Litsch, Kyle Drabek and Zach Stewart.
Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said Mills -- a fourth-round pick by the club in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft -- belongs in that group as well.
"He fits in there," Gaston said. "All those guys are competing for a job, competing for that fifth job."
Two springs ago, the 25-year-old Mills entered camp as a front-runner for a starting job. That was when Marcum was sidelined with a right elbow injury and before Romero and Cecil emerged as solid big league arms. Gaston said Mills could find himself in the mix for an Opening Day job again, though.
"His first Spring Training," Gaston said, "a lot of guys picked him to make that club. I think the more I see, and I haven't seen him all that much, he's not overpowering, but he knows how to pitch. He's learning how to pitch."
Morrow willing to work with any catcher
TORONTO -- Brandon Morrow will pitch to any catcher that Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston wants to put behind the plate. The pitcher has been paired with catcher Jose Molina for much of the season, but is willing to switch things up.
Not a fan of personal catchers for certain pitchers, Gaston indicated on Friday that he would like to break up the Morrow-Molina tandem at some point down the stretch this season. On Saturday, Morrow said he had no issues with throwing to a different catcher.
"That's fine," Morrow said. "Having Mo back there has been extremely beneficial in learning how you have to approach pitching a game. The way he calls a game has really kind of opened my eyes into what kind of pitches I need to be throwing up there.
"He's been great, but I know that they obviously can't do that every time."
Morrow then motioned toward the locker of young catcher J.P. Arencibia, who was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas on Thursday. Arencibia -- currently filling in for injured catcher John Buck -- is the top candidate to serve as Toronto's starting catcher in 2011.
"J.P. is probably going to be our guy for years to come," Morrow said. "So I'd like to start that."
As things currently stand, Morrow is slated to pitch to Molina for Sunday's game against the Rays. They have worked together in each of Morrow's past 11 starts, during which the right-hander has gone 7-4 with a 3.42 ERA. Overall, the righty has a 3.32 ERA with Molina and a 8.81 ERA with Buck.
Morrow believes Buck simply caught him at a bad time earlier this year, when the pitcher was working through some mechanical issues.
"I don't think it's Buck's fault that I threw bad to him," Morrow said. "He just happened to be back there for a few of my meltdown starts, and I just happened to start to get on a roll when Molina was back there."
Overbay picking up steam at plate
TORONTO -- Lyle Overbay could have let his early struggles take a toll on his entire season. Instead, the Blue Jays first baseman has steadily pulled himself out of his slump over the past two months.
"It's been real big," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said on Saturday.
Along the way, Overbay has put up some impressive numbers in big situations.
Entering Saturday, Overbay was batting .357 (25-for-70) with two home runs, four doubles and eight RBIs in late-and-close situations. Such a scenario includes when the the Jays are either tied, ahead by one run or the tying run is in the on-deck circle in the seventh inning or later.
On Friday night, Overbay delivered again, slicing a run-scoring double in the seventh inning to help the Blue Jays to a 2-1 win over the Rays. Dating back to May 28, the first baseman has hit .297 with eight homers, 23 RBIs and a .380 on-base percentage for Toronto.
"He's come up in some key situations," Gaston said. "Last night, in that situation, it looked like he really got after it and he drove in the winning run. Even back when people were giving him a hard time, I think I talked about how important he was as far as playing defense for us and saving us runs.
"If he's not producing, he's playing great defense."
The Blue Jays' 2-1 victory over the Rays on Friday night marked the eighth time this season Toronto won a game without hitting a home run. The Blue Jays are 8-22 in contests in which they did not clear the fence this year. Friday's win snapped a streak of 13 games in a row with at least one homer for the Jays. ... Toronto entered Saturday leading the Majors with 91 homers at home this season -- 11 more than the second-ranked White Sox. Jays right fielder Jose Bautista led baseball with 20 home runs at home. ... Entering Saturday, Bautista had seven homers in his past 11 games. He had homered at least once in nine consecutive series. ... Since the All-Star break, the Blue Jays have allowed the fewest runs (61) in the Majors. Toronto's 3.01 ERA since the break ranked second in the American League and third in baseball. ... Over the past eight games, the Blue Jays' pitching staff has fashioned a 1.29 ERA, limiting hitters to a .164 average over that span.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.