After injuries hampered their respective 2013 seasons, Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz and Blue Jays right-hander Brandon Morrow are building themselves back to form. The opposing pitchers will look to continue making progress on that front when they take the mound Saturday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
Buchholz, who'll make his fifth start of the season, is regaining arm strength after experiencing shoulder problems in the middle of last season and then fatigue in the postseason. He struggled in his last outing, giving up seven hits and six runs over 2 1/3 innings in a 7-6 loss to Baltimore on Monday. He is 9-5 lifetime with a 2.44 ERA against Toronto.
"Not quite there," said Buchholz, who carries an 0-2 record and a 7.71 ERA into Saturday's game. "It feels like it's getting better. I feel like later … in the past two games, if I wanted to reach back, there were 92s and 93s there. That usually comes pretty easy. I'm struggling with that a little bit right now. But that'll come together. It's still pretty early. We still have a lot of time left in this first half to pull it all together and go from there."
Morrow, meanwhile, dealt with forearm issues that limited him to just 54 innings over 10 starts in 2013. He hasn't pitched more than six innings in a start this season and has struggled with pitch counts early in games.
He was handed a no-decision Sunday after pitching five innings in a 6-4 loss to Cleveland. He allowed three hits and two runs while walking two and striking out six. After turning the game over to the bullpen in the sixth with a 4-2 lead, Morrow looked on as Blue Jays relievers couldn't seal the deal. That started a run of three blow leads over the course of four games by the Toronto bullpen, culminating with seventh-inning issues Thursday in a 11-4 loss to Baltimore.
"Those guys are going to bounce back; they're strike-throwers," said Morrow, who's 1-1 with a 5.03 ERA. "And they're going to be back in the zone doing what they do."
Blue Jays: Janssen at least two weeks away
• Right-hander Casey Janssen is still at least two weeks away from making his return to the bullpen.
Janssen is expected to go on a rehab assignment at some point during Toronto's upcoming road trip through Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Friday.
But he said Janssen is still going to need a significant amount of time to get ready for the season.
Toronto's closer has yet to pitch this year and made only three appearances during the spring.
Janssen's injury was originally described by the organization as soreness in his lower back/abdominal area. Gibbons clarified Friday that it's an oblique issue.
Red Sox: Middlebrooks rejoins lineup
• Third baseman Will Middlebrooks was activated off the disabled list for Friday's series-opening 8-1 win against the Blue Jays, batting in the No. 8 spot.
Middlebrooks, who went 0-for-10 during a three-game rehab stint at Triple-A Pawtucket, appeared in his first Major League game since April 4 against the Brewers. The 25-year-old was sidelined for three weeks with a calf strain. In his first at-bat Friday, he hit an RBI single to center field off Blue Jays lefty Mark Buehrle. Middlebrooks later added an RBI double.
"To get him back gives us not only another power bat in the bottom third of our order, but we get back to the full complement of players we anticipated in Spring Training," manager John Farrell said.
With Middlebrooks and right fielder Shane Victorino back, the Red Sox featured a full lineup Friday for the first time this season. Victorino played his first game of the season in Thursday's loss to the Yankees.
• Entering Friday, Red Sox hurlers Chris Capuano, Junichi Tazawa and Koji Uehara combined for 35 strikeouts with only three walks over 31 scoreless innings. Capuano struck out the side in order in the eighth inning Friday.
• With his double in the fourth inning Friday, Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista has reached base safely in all 23 games.
• Middlebrooks' RBI single in the second inning Friday broke Buehrle's 0-for-23 streak when pitching with runners in scoring position.
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.