5/10/2014 7:45 P.M. ET
Stroman quieting critics with play
By Jamie Ross / MLB.com
TORONTO -- He may be small in stature, but there's no shortage of heart in Marcus Stroman. And that's what Blue Jays manager John Gibbons likes about his young pitcher.
"He's good, and confident," said Gibbons prior to Saturday's game against the Angels. "Very productive for us."
At 5-foot-9, the knock on Stroman for most of his baseball life has been that he's too short to succeed.
But that type of analysis has only fueled the fire that burns inside of the 23-year-old, who was called up to the Blue Jays from Triple-A Buffalo on May 3 after Brandon Morrow was placed on the 60-day disabled list.
"It's something that I've faced my whole life, and I kind of enjoy it now," said Stroman, who's made three relief appearances for the Blue Jays this season, going 1-0 in 3 1/3 innings. "I enjoy being small, because you're always doing things you're not supposed to do."
When he didn't make the Blue Jays' roster out of Spring Training, Stroman headed for the club's Triple-A affiliate, the Bisons. He burned through the competition in the early goings of this season, posting a 2-2 record with a 1.69 ERA in 26 2/3 innings pitched. It appeared inevitable that the Medford, N.Y., native would eventually join the big club.
But Stroman's time in Buffalo was valuable. It allowed him time to work on his changeup, the last pitch in his five-pitch repertoire. He's been throwing it steadily since 2012, and he now uses it to great effect as a counterpoint to his mid-90s fastball.
"It's a pitch that I feel really complements my arsenal and helps me a tonne," he said. "It's huge. I think a good, quality change can probably be one of the best, if not the best pitch in baseball … as far as messing up [a hitter's] timing."
Upon return, Lawrie could see time at second base
TORONTO -- Brett Lawrie could be heading back to second base -- at least part-time -- when he returns from his right hamstring injury, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said on Saturday.
The third baseman hasn't played since Monday, when he left in the fourth inning against Philadelphia with a tight hamstring.
Gibbons said he spoke to Lawrie, who is expected to return to the lineup on Sunday, about having him play more second base when Juan Francisco's bat is needed in the lineup. Francisco has been manning third in Lawrie's absence.
Lawrie has previously expressed a displeasure for switching from his regular position, but with Francisco wielding a hot bat, the change is necessary, Gibbons said.
"He said, 'I'm doing it for the boys, for the team,'" Gibbons said. "I tip my hat to him. It's not an easy decision, but I think it makes us stronger on certain days."
Gibbons admitted the team will lose some defense at the hot corner without Lawrie there every day.
"Francisco, he's been pretty good over there, but he's not Brett Lawrie," Gibbons said. "And not many guys are."
Lawrie was expected to do running exercises again on Saturday, and Gibbons said he hoped the 24-year-old would be available on Sunday.
Francisco has hit .297 with three home runs and nine RBIs in the past 10 games, and has added a noticeable punch to the middle of the batting order.
Bautista approaching Blue Jays history
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista is chasing Blue Jays history.
The power-hitting right fielder has now reached base safely in all 37 games to start the season, the longest such streak in the Majors.
Bautista reached first base on an error in the first inning against the Angels on Saturday, but that did not count towards the streak. He did, however, make it official in the ninth with an RBI single. He is now only one game shy of tying the club record of most consecutive games reaching base, which was set by Carlos Delgado (38) in 1998.
Delgado also holds a separate streak of 37 games (2001), which he shares with Bautista and Joe Carter, who did it in 1994.
That Bautista is enjoying success at the plate is of little surprise to anyone. Entering Saturday's game vs. the Angels, the veteran outfielder led the Majors in walks and ranked first among American League hitters with a 1.008 OPS, and second with a .445 on-base percentage.
But manager John Gibbons said he's noticed a small change in Bautista's approach that has made him even more effective. When a team uses a defensive shift and anticipates a pulled hit from Bautista, he's been sending the ball the other way.
"I know he and [hitting coach Kevin] Seitzer talked about that early in Spring Training, being a tougher out and taking what the pitchers give you and what the situation calls for," Gibbons said. "The only thing I've noticed different between this year and last is a willingness, and the ability, to shoot some balls the other way if the situation calls for it."
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.