3/11/2014 5:28 P.M. ET
Rasmus playing catch-up, but not rushing back
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Colby Rasmus made his return to the Blue Jays' lineup on Tuesday afternoon following an 11-day absence because of a sore neck.
Rasmus hadn't played since Feb. 28, but was given a clean bill of health earlier this week. He resumed baseball activities on Saturday and worked out for two days before getting back on the field for an official game.
The 27-year-old went 0-for-2 with a walk and a strikeout in a 12-2 victory over the Canadian Junior team, but the most important thing is that he is once again facing live pitching.
"I feel it is," Rasmus said when asked if he's now headed in the right direction. "I haven't really done much swinging up to this point. I just kind of got thrown into the game, but I played and felt good, so we'll go from there."
There's very little doubt that Rasmus is currently behind the rest of his teammates in preparations for the start of the regular season, but the good news is that he still has just under three weeks left to catch up. That should be more than enough time to get up to speed and receive an appropriate number of at-bats.
Rasmus said he expected to play again Wednesday afternoon, but he's not about to force himself into extra playing time just because he's currently behind everyone else. It will be important not to overdo things before the first game of the year.
"Just get back into my normal routine, what I've been doing and getting to do my normal stuff will get me right back," Rasmus said. "I'll be fine, I'm not worried about it.
"We have 162 games to play, you're going to have some bumps in the road at the beginning, middle and all the way through. For me, just keep my legs under me, keep my body right. Just relax, take my time, get to feeling good, get the body feeling good and we'll go from there."
Rasmus enjoyed a breakout season at the plate in 2013. He hit .276 with 22 homers and 66 RBIs while posting an impressive .840 OPS in 118 games.
Morrow lacking fastball command
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow used an exhibition game against the Canadian Junior team to focus strictly on his fastball.
Morrow exclusively threw four-seam fastballs and split-finger fastballs over the course of three innings. He allowed two runs -- one earned -- on four hits and three walks while striking out two in his club's 12-2 victory on Tuesday.
The split-finger fastball was particularly effective, but there's still some work to be done on his regular fastball, as consistent location has proved elusive during his last couple of starts.
"My fastball command was terrible, I was getting frustrated with myself out there," Morrow said. "But [overall] I felt good. I got to 47 pitches, that was kind of the plan, to double up with that number. I threw 45 last time out. Everything was good with that aspect, but I need to tighten up my fastball command -- that's been my problem the last two times out."
Unlike previous springs, Morrow began the Grapefruit League season by utilizing all of his pitches. He feels the slider and curveball are now where they need to be, and the split-finger fastball also got to that point during his outing against Team Canada.
The final component is finding a way to locate the four-seamer, which is the pitch he throws more than any other. He will focus on that again during his next start while his pitch count also will be elevated to approximately 65.
Morrow might not be exactly where he wants to be at this point of the spring, but he's also not very far off.
"I'm not worried, it's going to get there eventually," Morrow said. "I'll just keep working at it. Next time out will be the same thing. I need to iron that out of course. But everything else is feeling good.
"The split, I thought, was great. I threw it for strikes, got a double play with it, got strikeouts with it, and my slider and curveball were good the last couple of times. So I felt like they were in a good spot. Fastball command, that's what it has always been for me and as soon as I get it there, I'll be where I want."