Morrow named as fifth starter
LAKELAND, Fla.—Right-hander Brandon Morrow, who started last season second in the Jays’ pitching rotation, will open the 2014 campaign as the team’s fifth starter.
Toronto manager John Gibbons said the move to the fifth spot is partially to give Morrow more time to get ready.
Prior to today, Morrow had pitched eight innings this spring, giving up seven earned runs on 12 hits with four strikeouts and four walks.
He was scheduled to throw in a minor-league game today.
Gibbons said he’s happy with what he’s seen from the 29-year-old Morrow, who is due to make $8 million (U.S.) this season.
“Yeah, he’s fine,” he told reporters prior to the Jays’ road game today against the Detroit Tigers.
“The key with him is his health,” Gibbons stressed. “That’s what’s limited him the last couple of years.
“If he’s good, he’s strong and makes all his starts or at least most of them, we’ve got one of the better pitchers in baseball,” he noted.
“But that’s been tough for him to do the last couple of years.”
Morrow’s 2013 season was cut short by an impinged nerve in his right forearm.
He went 2-3 with a 5.63 ERA in 10 starts before being shut down.
A torn oblique muscle cost him more than two months of the 2012 campaign.
Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will open the season on the mound for the Jays on March 31 in Tampa.
Gibbons has said left-hander Mark Buehrle will start third, to separate him from Dickey.
If Morrow goes fifth, he will pitch the home-opener April 4 against the N.Y. Yankees.
That leaves the No. 2 and 4 positions, with Gibbons saying one spot goes to left-hander J.A. Happ.
The team has yet to confirm the last starter, but it’s widely believed Drew Hutchison has pitched his way into the rotation.
Gibbons, meanwhile, said he’s happy with the pitching weapons at his disposal.
“Yeah, I really like the way it’s setting up. I really do. . . .
“There’s still some decisions to be made but I’m very pleased,” he added.
Pitching was a major problem last season when Toronto starters combined for a 46-57 record and a 4.81 ERA.
Only Minnesota had an higher ERA (5.26) among its starters.
In other news Jays’ closer Casey Janssen, on a slower spring training track to protect against shoulder soreness, threw live batting practice today.
“All in all, good to get on a mound, good to get a little bit of adrenalin going, and most importantly, it’s good to feel good,” Janssen said.