3/18/2014 6:56 P.M. ET
Morrow confident he'll be ready for season
By Adam Berry / MLB.com
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Though nothing is official at this point, the Blue Jays are considering slotting right-hander Brandon Morrow into the fifth spot in the rotation. Part of the reason, according to manager John Gibbons, is that a late debut will give him more time to prepare for the season.
But there's no doubt in Morrow's mind that he'll be ready, he said after pitching in a Minor League intrasquad game on Tuesday in Dunedin, Fla. He pitched against lefty Mark Buehrle for the Jays' Minor League teams after the fields were deemed too wet for his planned Triple-A game against the Yankees in Tampa.
Morrow gave up two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out two over 3 2/3 innings. Working with catcher Erik Kratz, he threw 63 pitches, including 36 strikes. Buehrle, working with catcher Josh Thole, logged 4 1/3 innings and gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits and two walks while striking out three.
Morrow's fastball was clocked between 90-95 mph, sitting mostly at 92 and 93. He felt as though his fastball command improved after his first inning, liked how he threw his curveball and saw room for improvement with the slider and splitter. The most important thing, he said, is that he felt good on the mound.
"I definitely felt stronger than the last time [against the Canadian Junior National Team]. And I put a little bit more into it, I think," Morrow said. "The time before that was fine -- that was a Major League game. But just mentally, a little bit more, I think. And then the next two [starts] will be good, because they'll be in big league games.
"Everything's coming along well. I got established what I wanted to establish today with the fastball command, with the nice zip and pop on that, and you could see the guys were behind it at times, regardless of the velocity. It wasn't my best velocity, but the swings tell you whether or not you're locating well and the kind of life on it, so that was positive. Everything else has been coming along really well."
Gibbons said on Tuesday morning that he just wants to see that Morrow is able to take the ball every fifth day, because everything else should fall into line naturally for him.
"The key is, is he healthy? Health, that's what's limited him the last couple of years," Gibbons said. "If he's good and he's strong and he makes all his starts, or at least most of them, you've got one of the better pitchers in baseball. But that's been tough for him to do the last few years.
"We want him feeling good ... and all indications are that he's going to be. He can throw strikes. The key for him is getting out there 30 starts a year."
Janssen has final tuneup before spring debut
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Closer Casey Janssen took the final step toward his Grapefruit League debut, tossing a round of batting practice at the Blue Jays' Spring Training complex on Tuesday.
Working his way back from a sore shoulder, Janssen will take the next two days off, then if all goes well, pitch in a game on Friday.
"Another step in the right direction. Got the heart pumping a little bit, which was nice," Janssen said in Dunedin, Fla. "I'm sure Friday's going to be more of the same, hopefully a little bit more in the velocity department, just because there will be defenders behind me."
Janssen threw one batting practice session earlier this spring and has thrown a few side sessions since the shoulder issues resurfaced earlier in camp. He'll have more than a week after his debut to squeeze in a few more outings before Opening Day, on March 31.
Janssen's abbreviated spring slate is similar to what he went through last year, and he was able to break camp with Toronto and pitch the entire season without spending time on the disabled list.
He threw his fastball, curveball, slider and changeup on Tuesday and tried to make the session as "game-like" as possible. He didn't use his cutter but said he made sure to work in all of the other pitches as often as possible.
"[The cutter] comes back quick. It gives me time to work on other stuff," he said. "I'll probably start playing catch with it here shortly and fine-tune that. It's easy to call that pitch, so you want to work with the secondary stuff and know that that's in your pocket.
"All in all, [it's] good to get on a mound, good to get a little bit of adrenaline going and, most important, it's good to feel good."
Gibbons chalks up loss to Tigers as 'bad day'
LAKELAND, Fla. -- Manager John Gibbons wasn't in much of a talking mood following Tuesday's 18-4 loss to the Tigers at Joker Marchant Stadium. He held court with reporters afterward, as he always does, but the truth is, there simply wasn't much to be said.
"All the way around, it was just a bad day in every phase of the game," Gibbons said. "I got to let that one go. ... This one's over. It was a bad day all the way around."
Toronto gave up 17 hits and 11 walks. The offense managed four runs on six hits, and half of those hits came off the bat of Melky Cabrera, who went 3-for-3 with a double and a stolen base -- perhaps the only real bright spot on the day.
Gibbons had hoped to see Ricky Romero and Marcus Stroman combine to pitch the entire game. As it turned out, they combined to record nine outs and allow 10 runs.
"Not enough strikes," Gibbons said when asked what went wrong for Romero.
"Not enough strikes, either," Gibbons said. "It's pretty simple."
The young right-hander walked the first batter he faced and gave up three straight singles before Don Kelly took him deep for a grand slam. Stroman gave up another base hit, struck out a batter, then surrendered a ground-rule double before his day was finally over after 32 pitches, half of them strikes.
"A bad day. We had the nice off-day [on Monday] and today didn't go as planned," Gibbons said. "It just shows you that if you don't pitch, it's tough to play. The position players are out there standing on their feet. Every inning takes forever.
"Just a bad day."