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TOR@PHI: Stroman earns first career win in relief

After working out of the bullpen during his last stint with the Blue Jays, top prospect Marcus Stroman will make his first Major League start on Saturday against the Royals at Rogers Centre.

The 23-year-old right hander will be recalled from Triple-A Buffalo and looking to get the Blue Jays back on track after dropping the first two of this four-game set.

"Tons of aggressiveness," said Blue Jays catcher Erik Kratz when asked to describe what to expect out of Stroman. "I think he sees that his stuff plays when he's on. When his stuff is on there are very few as good as he is. There's a reason he's a prospect, or whatever it is, and that he's being asked to come and start in the rotation. I expect to see a guy that's going to come out and give everything he's got and have a lot of success."

Stroman made his MLB debut earlier this month, but he was optioned to Buffalo on May 18 after making five relief appearances. He went 1-0 -- earning his first win against the Phillies on May 6 -- and allowed nine earned runs over 6 1/3 innings.

By recalling Stroman, the Blue Jays are pushing back Drew Hutchison's next start until at least Tuesday. The team is keeping a close eye on Hutchison's workload in his first season back from Tommy John surgery.

Stroman rejoins the Blue Jays in his preferred role as a starter. He's previously expressed a desire to pitch in a Major League rotation, and not out of the bullpen.

Stroman is 2-4 with a 3.03 ERA in seven starts with the Bisons.

The Royals also dipped into their Triple-A staff to find a starting pitcher for Saturday's game. It'll be right-hander Aaron Brooks, who is 4-1 with a 3.12 ERA in eight games for the Omaha Storm Chasers.

The Saturday spot was left open because rookie Yordano Ventura was skipped over as a precaution against further problems with his right elbow. He left a Memorial Day start in the third inning with discomfort that later was diagnosed as a minor problem not associated with the ulna collateral ligament.

Brooks made his Major League debut on May 3, giving up six runs in a two-inning relief appearance against the Tigers. That's been his only big league exposure. This is the third time he's been promoted this season but in his first brief stay, he didn't pitch.

Brooks, a ninth-round pick in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft from Cal State-San Bernardino, split last season between two clubs. He was 2-2 with a 4.47 ERA in 10 starts for Class A Advanced Wilmington and 7-7 with a 4.17 ERA in 16 starts for Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

Royals manager Ned Yost said that Brooks is a strike-thrower. In his Minor League career, Brooks had 327 strikeouts vs. 64 walks. His 11 walks in 103 2/3 innings last year for Northwest Arkansas were the fewest among Texas League pitchers with at least 100 innings.

Brooks also had one of the league's six nine-inning shutouts and was named the Naturals' Pitcher of the Year. In 2011, he was a Pioneer League All-Star while with Idaho Falls.

Blue Jays: Bautista tough on runners at first
For the second consecutive night, Jose Bautista threw out a Royals runner at first base on a ball hit to right field.

In the top of the seventh of Friday night's 6-1 loss, Omar Infante sent a flare toward shallow right. Thinking the ball was headed foul, Infante turned his back on the play, but he quickly realized it landed fair. He was late getting out of the box and down the line, buying Bautista -- who trapped the ball after attempting a sliding catch -- enough time to make the play.

On Thursday, Bautista threw out Billy Butler in the ninth inning of the Blue Jays' eventual 8-6 loss in 10 innings. Butler had hit a sharp grounder to right field and straight into a charging Bautista, who fired a strike to first baseman Edwin Encarnacion to beat Butler by at least a foot.

Royals: Need to be better hunters
Left fielder Alex Gordon had no quarrel with new hitting coach Dale Sveum's assertion that the Royals need to take advantage of pitches high in the strike zone and lay off the low ones.

"Just hunt our pitches. Swing at our pitches," Gordon said. "We've been swinging at bad pitches, getting ourselves out. It's that simple. Don't make it complicated."

Gordon took that to heart on Friday night, banging a high pitch from J.A. Happ over the right-field wall for a two-run homer.

Sveum took over as hitting coach on Thursday, replacing Pedro Grifol, who was reassigned to coach the catchers. Mike Jirschele replaced Sveum as the third-base coach and infield instructor in the realignment of duties.

Worth noting
• Reliever Wade Davis, after two perfect innings in Thursday night's victory over the Blue Jays, has retired 17 consecutive batters. He also has 42 strikeouts in 24 1/3 innings for a nine-inning ratio of 15.53, best among American League relievers.

Edwin Encarnacion is tied with Mickey Mantle for the most home runs in May by an American League player with 16. Encarnacion went hitless in two at-bats, but he did finish with three walks on Friday. He'll have Saturday's game to try and match Barry Bonds for the all-time Major League record for homers in May at 17.

 

• The Blue Jays stranded a season-high 14 runners in their loss to the Royals on Friday.

• After going 3-for-4 on Friday, Billy Butler is now 5-for-9 in this series.

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