3/22/2014 5:55 P.M. ET
Hutchison stretches out in strong Minors start
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Drew Hutchison moved another step closer to opening the season in the Blue Jays' starting rotation by tossing seven scoreless innings during a Minor League game on Saturday morning.
Hutchison is technically still competing for a spot in the rotation, but there's very little doubt he'll be on the roster come Opening Day. He has been one of the best Toronto pitchers this spring and has received rave reviews from his coaching staff and front office.
The main goal of Saturday's outing was to increase his pitch limit to 80. He came within one of that benchmark while allowing just one hit and one walk with six strikeouts.
"I felt good all of the way through," Hutchison said. "I settled in about the third inning and had a nice rhythm from then on.
"I feel like I've pitched well. I came into camp ready to pitch well and I've done that. Just continue to perform."
Hutchison entered Spring Training with a lot of question marks surrounding his immediate future in the rotation. He underwent Tommy John surgery midway through the 2012 season, and even though he returned to the mound late last year in the Minor Leagues there was some doubt about just how effective Hutchison would be this spring.
The 23-year-old has since effectively answered all of those questions. Hutchison has felt healthy and seems to have picked up right where he left off two years ago. The native of Lakeland, Fla., has been able to command his fastball down in the zone to both sides of the plate while also showing a lot of movement on his secondary pitches.
"I feel good, it's one of those things where I wasn't sore before I got hurt, it was just the one pitch and then the injury," Hutchison said. "It wasn't a deterioration, it just happened. I did what I needed to do to get back, I worked hard to put myself in this position to have a chance, to go out and perform. So, I'm trying to go out and perform and do the best I can, and that's what my focus is."
McGowan still candidate for Blue Jays' rotation
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Right-hander Dustin McGowan apparently still has a chance to make the Blue Jays' starting rotation after all.
Just two days after John Gibbons appeared to indicate that McGowan was headed for a role in the bullpen, the tone of his scrum with a group of reporters changed. According to Toronto's manager, McGowan hasn't been ruled out as a starter and apparently never was in the first place.
The big question is whether McGowan will be able to maintain his health and get stretched out enough before Opening Day after throwing 47 pitches in his last outing. But either way, he's still under consideration.
"We don't have all of the answers yet, we have guys doing different things, we're trying to put it together," Gibbons said. "So no official announcements were made. I try to be honest and give you the best answers that I can, but I haven't officially said anything about anybody.
"The way it's set up now, he'll get a couple of more outings in. He can get there no big deal and if you throw him down there in the Minor Leagues, make sure he gets to whatever pitch limit we want, roll the innings to guarantee to get him that. [Pitch count] wouldn't be an issue there."
Most of Gibbons' scrum with the media on Saturday morning was spent arguing semantics. Several media outlets, including MLB.com, reported on Thursday that McGowan was set to start the season in the bullpen. The determination was made after Gibbons held court with the media earlier that morning.
At the time, Gibbons was asked: "Has [McGowan] been ruled out as a candidate to start or is that something you're still looking at?" He replied: "Well, he's kind of in limbo there. We want to be able to stretch him out anyways, if he's in the 'pen for multiple innings that would benefit us quite a bit down there. We know he can do two, if he can do three it would do wonders for us."
That prompted a followup statement from a reporter: "So it seems like he's more in the bullpen picture then." Gibbons appeared to confirm that by saying "Yeah, yeah. Unless he comes out of nowhere and you know ..."
McGowan then went out later that day and fired three scoreless innings vs. the Phillies. He allowed just one hit and struck out five in his longest outing since 2011. McGowan also threw 47 pitches, and while that's well short of where he would need to be at the start of the regular season, there's still some time to continue building up his endurance.
The current plan appears to be that McGowan will start a Minor League game on Tuesday and then again on March 30. That's the same day the Blue Jays will have to finalize their 25-man roster for Opening Day, and it's very possible the club will want to wait and see how he pitches in both outings before making an official decision on its rotation.
"I've said from Day One, I wanted to be a starter, but I know the obstacles I have to overcome to do it," McGowan said. "A bunch of surprises coming I guess.
"I didn't know if I'd be able to get to 80-85 pitches before spring is over, but I guess I've got a chance to, so we'll see."
The Blue Jays plan to start the year with R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle and Brandon Morrow in the rotation. Right-hander Drew Hutchison appears all but officially guaranteed a spot while McGowan is competing against the likes of Todd Redmond, Esmil Rogers and J.A. Happ.
Reyes isn't concerned about tight hamstring
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Jose Reyes left Saturday's 9-4 win over the Tigers after the third inning because of a tight left hamstring.
Toronto's shortstop attempted to downplay the incident by saying it was precautionary and didn't think it was a big deal. There's no immediate timeframe for his return to the lineup, but Reyes appears to be considered day to day.
Manager John Gibbons took a similar relaxed tone in his postgame scrum with reporters and responded "zero" to a question about his level of concern for the injury.
"If he didn't play a week from now, we'd have a lot of concern," Gibbons added.
Reyes had a lot of hamstring issues earlier in his career, but has been able to avoid any type of serious problem for the past two seasons. He last spent time on the disabled list with a hamstring issue in 2011, when he missed 29 games. Prior to that, his last DL stint because of a hamstring came in '04.
The 30-year-old Reyes is hitting .255 in 17 games this spring. He also has three doubles and five runs scored to go with three walks.
Janssen feeling good after first spring action
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Casey Janssen reported all is well one day after making his first appearance of the spring.
Toronto's closer arrived in the clubhouse on Saturday morning feeling just a normal level of soreness after tossing 17 pitches vs. the Phillies in a Minor League game the day before.
Janssen had not made an appearance this spring because of a sore shoulder, but he appears to be over the injury, and all signs still point to him being ready for Opening Day on March 31.
"Went well, threw all my pitches," Janssen said. "It was good to compete and just another step in the right direction, and getting ready for the season and Opening Day.
"Not too bad on the soreness. Those guys were scrappy down there and made me work a little bit. It's good to get a little sore. It's good to get some work in."
The plan is for Janssen to make three more appearances this spring before the club opens the season against Tampa Bay. Another goal is to have Janssen make two of those outings on back-to-back days as a final test to make sure he is physically ready to go.
It's a very familiar situation for Janssen, who only made three appearances last spring as well following offseason shoulder surgery. He went on to record 34 saves in 36 opportunities and have one of his better seasons in the Major Leagues.
"I mean, I think in a perfect world, I would have liked to be out there March 3 and pitching in games and everything like that," Janssen said. "Obviously it didn't work that way for me but, yeah, I think I can get there. I think the intensity level is going to pick up when you're in the Major League games and then when the big lights turn on, I think the intensity level will definitely be there.
"As long as I feel good, I pride myself on being a command guy and the radar gun doesn't matter that much when you can change speeds and hit your spots, and that's what I've relied on a lot of my career. If the velocity takes a few days to catch up, I think I can compete with what I've got."