5/24/2013 1:25 A.M. ET
Nolin to get the call from Double-A, start Friday
By Evan Peaslee / MLB.com
TORONTO -- It may have been one of the worst kept secrets in baseball, but the Blue Jays announced Thursday that prospect Sean Nolin will start for the club Friday vs. the Baltimore Orioles.
The Blue Jays had been mum over the last couple days on who would be making the start Friday, but there was an overwhelming thought that the club might turn to the big left-hander sooner rather than later.
"He's got the stuff to do it," manager John Gibbons said after the announcement. "He's pitching in a nice little groove, and we need somebody."
Nolin had been nursing a left groin strain from Spring Training, but has made three starts for the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats in May. In those starts, the 23-year-old is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in 15 1/3 innings on the mound.
Friday's start will be Nolin's Major League debut, and comes only three years after being drafted.
"Super excited," said Nolin, whose plane landed in Toronto late Thursday evening. "It's something I've always wanted to do since I was five years old."
Nolin's start comes only a day after Kevin Gausman made his debut start for the Orioles, and the manager is anticipating some nerves from his starter.
"You expect them to be nervous," Gibbons said. "You make your debut, something's wrong with you if you're not."
Gibbons is hoping a nice first inning will settle down any nerves, but he has faith in the player he saw in Spring Training before his injury.
"He's a very mature kid, he carries himself well." Gibbons said. "He can handle that."
After he was selected in the sixth round of the 2010 MLB First-Year Player Draft, Nolin has progressed throughout the Blue Jays' Minor League system, but he has been in Double-A -- the highest level he's played in -- for a short amount of time.
His game plan for tomorrow is simple.
"Just get ahead of guys like everyone else," said Nolin, whose arsenal includes a fastball, slider, changeup and curveball. "Try to throw strikes early, and hopefully be able to just get guys out."
The San Jacinto Junior College product has made only six starts with the Fisher Cats, three each in 2012 and '13, but the Blue Jays are hoping his success can transfer over at the big league level. Something that Toronto had success with when Jesse Litsch made his debut with the club in May '07.
Litsch, then 22, also came out of Double-A and pitched 8 2/3 innings of one-run ball on May 15, 2007 to record his first Major League victory. Litsch stuck with the team through the end of the year, making 20 starts and going 7-9 with a 3.81 ERA.
"It's the same game. It's played the same way. … It's how you react mentally," Gibbons said.
Happ dealing with issues from sprained right knee
TORONTO -- Although progress is being made, J.A. Happ has yet to throw off the mound after taking a ball to his head against the Rays two weeks ago.
The lefty's issues stem from his sprained right knee as a result of the fall that came afterwards, while his head injuries are nearly fully healed.
Happ hopes to throw off the mound in the next day or so, but doctors won't let him do so without a brace, which is something that he is awaiting the arrival of, according to ESPN's Kelly Naqi.
So far in his rehab, Happ has begun playing catch and according to club representatives there's no timetable for his return to a mound.
Influential scout Guerrero passes away
TORONTO -- Prolific baseball scout Epy Guerrero passed away at the age of 71 on Thursday morning in his native Dominican Republic.
The man largely credited with building a stable of Toronto's most influential players in the 1980s and '90s was honored at Rogers Centre with a moment of silence before Thursday's contest vs. the Orioles.
Guerrero had a large influence in drafting in the Caribbean, most notably the Dominican Republic. He signed the likes of Tony Fernandez, Alfredo Griffin and Carlos Delgado, and he urged management to draft George Bell.
Every one of those players but Griffin resides in the Blue Jays Level of Excellence that adorns the facing of the fourth deck at Rogers Centre (Delgado will be added on July 21), with Bell being the only Blue Jays player to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1987.
Guerrero was also responsible for signing Cesar Cedeno for Houston, and he spent some time scouting for the Yankees and Brewers as well.
The longtime Blue Jays scout and coach for part of the 1981 season, was inducted into the Dominican Sports Hall of Fame in 2008. He was with the Blue Jays from 1978-95.
Jenkins to make second start of season on Sunday
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays decided to turn to another young player for Sunday's start in the series finale vs. the Orioles.
Chad Jenkins will make his second start of the season, exactly two weeks after impressing in his first outing against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Although the long stretch in between pitching would typically mean some rust for the starter on the mound, it's something that Jenkins is accustomed to.
"I did it last year," Jenkins said. "There was a couple of times where I had nine or 10 days off. It's tough, but at the same time you enjoy the rest while you have it."
However, manager John Gibbons admitted that the amount of time off has not been ideal.
"That's the tough thing because it's been a couple of weeks," Gibbons said. "If he doesn't pitch tonight [out of the bullpen], he'll have a big long side at the end of the game and he should be good to go."
Jenkins, like Nolin, was injured for the first month of the year, and his previously sore shoulder is actually improving with the rest and bullpen sessions he's had in the last two weeks. His changeup in particular has improved since he's been rehabbing.
Still, the right-hander hasn't seen opposing batters in a long time, and there was some concern that it might take some time to find a feel for his pitches.
Jenkins isn't buying into that theory, and he doesn't really consider himself that type of pitcher.
"My sinker, I just try to throw it around the dish and let it do the work," said Jenkins, who is expected to have a pitch count of 80-90 pitches.
"Whatever [the catcher] puts down, I'm probably going to throw it."
Bautista ready to move on after four-hit performance
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista entered Thursday's contest against the Orioles after one of his best individual performances.
Not only did the 32-year-old slugger hit two home runs and drive in all four of the Blue Jays runs vs. the Rays Wednesday, but he also hit the walk-off single in the tenth. However, it's not something the veteran wants to dwell on.
"It was certainly a good night, but that's all I'm going to look at it as," Bautista said. "[I'm going to] keep coming here, showing up, doing my work, and keep trying to make the adjustments necessary to hopefully have performances like that on a consistent basis."
The two-time American League home run champion has reached base in all but five games this season, but the month of May has been particularly kind to Bautista.
Since the calendar turned, the Blue Jays right fielder is hitting .365 with a .488 OBP., four home runs, 15 RBIs and 12 runs scored. Most of that came from the unfamiliar two-hole in the lineup.
Bautista, however, says that the only difference is being more selective and drawing more walks. He has 17 already in May, good for a tie for tops in the Majors entering Thursday's game.
"I feel like I'm hitting the ball equally as hard, but it's just that I'm finding more holes than before," Bautista said.
The veteran faced Baltimore prospect Kevin Gausman on Thursday, and isn't expecting to make any changes against the rookie.
"Just going to look for strikes and try to hit them hard," Bautista said. "The pressure's on him. He's the one making his debut."
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.