6/10/2013 9:32 P.M. ET
First-round pick Bickford optimistic about signing
By Gregor Chisholm and Teddy Cahill / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Right-hander Phil Bickford seemed optimistic about the possibility of signing with the Blue Jays but declined to get into specifics when speaking with reporters Monday evening.
Toronto used the 10th overall pick of the 2013 First-Year Player Draft to select the product of Oaks Christian High School in California. He is committed to Cal State Fullerton in the fall but could opt to forgo college and sign a professional contract.
Bickford had been considered a relatively tough sign in the days leading up to the Draft but that could change depending on what the Blue Jays are prepared to offer.
"I'm just told to talk it through with my family and just see what happens," Bickford said. "I'm excited for the opportunity to sign and start to pursue my big league career.
"As of now, it's still being discussed but when I know what the deal is, then we'll see how it plays out."
Bickford's adviser during the negotiation process is R.J. Hernandez of the Legacy Group. The recommended slot value for the 10th pick is $2,921,400, while the Blue Jays have a bonus pool total of $6,398,200 for the Draft.
In Bickford, the Blue Jays now have a pitcher who recently led his high school club to its first Southern Section Division 4 championship. He struck out 18 in the final, including 11 consecutive batters at one point. The native of Ventura, Calif., finished his senior season with a 1.72 ERA while allowing 42 hits and striking out 159 in 99 1/3 innings.
The 17-year-old was ranked the 26th overall prospect of the Draft according to MLB.com. Bickford said there were a few indications in the days leading up to his selection that he could be headed to the Blue Jays.
"I just reminded myself to stay calm and just enjoy it," Bickford said. "When the Blue Jays called my name with the 10th pick, the whole house just erupted and everybody was very excited. It was a very powerful moment.
"All I know is that they were calling a lot of family friends, my teams ... So I knew that there was interest, I had not spoken to them personally, but when it was their pick there was an idea I might have a shot of going there and then to actually see it happen was very cool."
The Blue Jays were initially drawn to Bickford because of his overpowering fastball. He consistently throws 92-95 mph and has been known to hit 97 on occasion. There's a belief that the velocity could increase even a bit more as his body continues to mature.
The biggest question mark surrounding the pick, though, is whether Bickford will be able to add any consistent secondary pitches. He currently throws a slider and changeup but both will need work in order to succeed in the professional ranks.
Bickford admitted as much during his conference call on Monday but added that his slider has already come a long way in the past year.
"It does need work and I'm excited to go through that process if I do sign with the Blue Jays and see what happens," Bickford said. "I have been working on it, it was mediocre at best in my junior year, but senior year I can confidently say it developed a lot. It's not how it should be but it's going to be a lot better."
Morrow to miss minimum 2-3 weeks more
TORONTO -- Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow will be out for at least another two to three weeks because of tightness in his right forearm.
Morrow has been out since May 28, when he was forced to depart an outing against the Braves after just two innings because of discomfort. An MRI didn't reveal any structural damage, but it took a little while for the pain to subside.
Toronto's No. 2 starter is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday and two days later he'll report to the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla., to begin his rehab.
"I'll throw another bullpen in Florida when I get there and two or three games, it's undecided yet, depending on need, pitch count, all of that," Morrow said. "Conservatively it would be three [rehab starts], and if they feel like they want me back on a 75-80 pitch count then I would be back after two."
If Morrow does require three starts before a return, he likely won't be back until early July. The timetable could be longer if there is any type of setback, but that's something Morrow is hopeful to avoid.
The 28-year-old is 2-3 with a 5.63 ERA in 10 starts this season. He previously missed a start earlier in the year with tightness in his upper back and neck, but this marks his first stint on the disabled list in 2013.
"Each day has been better as far as finding my arm slot again and ball coming out," Morrow said. "Today, I felt as good as I have all season."
Top prospect Osuna returns from disabled list
Right-hander Roberto Osuna, the Blue Jays' No. 2 prospect, returned to the mound Sunday with Class A Lansing. He threw five shutout innings in his first start after more than a month on the disabled list.
Osuna was removed from his start April 30 with discomfort in his elbow, which was later diagnosed as a torn ulnar collateral ligament. He visited Dr. James Andrews, but rest and rehab, not surgery, was recommended.
Osuna made it through treatment without any setbacks and was activated from the disabled list on Sunday. He needed only 57 pitches to shut out West Michigan for five innings. Osuna struck out five batters and allowed two hits in the Lugnuts' 2-0 victory.
Blue Jays assistant general manager Tony LaCava said the team took a conservative approach with Osuna's rehab and was pleased with the results of his return.
"We shut him down and had him complete a progression in our extended program before sending him back to Lansing," Lacava said. "He pitched very well last night and, more importantly, was pain free."
Just 18 years old, Osuna has impressed with his mid-90s fastball and sharp command. Only fellow right-hander Aaron Sanchez ranks ahead of Osuna on MLB.com's Top 20 prospect list for the Blue Jays.
Osuna is making his full-season debut this year and has pitched well for the Lugnuts. He is 2-2 with a 2.96 ERA and a 36-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 27 1/3 innings.
• Blue Jays manager John Gibbons missed Monday night's game against the White Sox because of his son's high school graduation. Bench coach DeMarlo Hale took over for Gibbons in the dugout while roving catching instructor Sal Fasano was added to the coaching staff. Gibbons is set to return to Tuesday night's game in Chicago.
• Left-hander Darren Oliver was officially activated from the 15-day DL prior to Monday night's game against the White Sox. The move previously had been announced by the club following Sunday afternoon's 6-4 loss to Texas with right-hander Thad Weber being optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. Oliver had been out since May 18 with soreness in his left shoulder.
"Everything went good," Oliver said of his rehab. "The shoulder is much better, just like it should be."
Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. Teddy Cahill is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.