Changeup working for Frasor
Pitcher gains confidence with outing against Rangers
ARLINGTON -- There was a time early in Spring Training when Jason Frasor had some concerns about his changeup. It is a critical pitch for the Blue Jays closer and it was slow to develop. On Wednesday night against the Rangers, Frasor's feel for his changeup returned.
"When that's working, it's just two completely different pitchers," Frasor said. "The wild card is the changeup. I'm confident as heck when that's working. You could put anybody out there -- I feel like I could do pretty well."
After Frasor allowed a leadoff double in the ninth inning, Rangers outfielder David Murphy swung and missed at the closer's second pitch -- a changeup. That was a great sign and an immediate confidence booster. Frasor went on to strike out Murphy and Taylor Teagarden, notching his first save of 2010 after inducing a game-ending groundout off the bat of Elvis Andrus.
It was the type of showing that Frasor enjoyed throughout 2009, when he fashioned a 2.50 ERA and held hitters to a .209 average. A main factor behind Frasor's career year last season was the addition of the changeup to complement his fastball and slider. Walton said it took time for the offspeed offering to come along this spring.
"I'd say probably his first four or five outings of Spring Training we really didn't have the changeup," Walton said. "He just didn't have a good feel for it, and I believe that's normal. I believe the changeup is one of the last things to come because it's a feel pitch. Another thing that generates a good changeup is arm speed and in Spring Training we're building arm speed.
"That's an important pitch for Frase and he's going to get more and more consistent with it as the year goes on."
Morrow's debut will include pitch count
ARLINGTON -- The Blue Jays plan on keeping starter Brandon Morrow on a pitch count for his season debut against the Orioles on Friday in Baltimore. Morrow fought a fatigued right shoulder midway through Spring Training and Toronto is keeping a close eye on his continued progress.
According to Blue Jays pitching coach Bruce Walton, Morrow will be on a limit of around 85 pitches in his first start of the season. On Saturday, the right-hander logged 86 pitches in a five-inning exhibition outing against the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston. That represented an increase of 31 pitches from Morrow's previous spring appearance.
"We were really happy to get him to 86 pitches," Walton said. "It worked out well and we'll probably keep it around there for his first start. We'll just go from there."
On Thursday, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston reiterated his plans to keep his starters on their scheduled turns throughout this season. Toronto has no intention of skipping any of its starters when an off-day comes up. Instead, Gaston said the club would simply give the pitchers an extra day of rest in order to keep them in order.
The reasoning behind the Jays' decision is due to the makeup of the starting staff. Shaun Marcum missed all of last season with a right elbow issue, Brian Tallet worked as a full-time starter for the first time last year, Ricky Romero was a rookie a year ago and Morrow has moved between starting and relieving in the past.
"We're not going to skip anybody," Gaston said. "We're not going to move anybody up, because we are concerned about the arms out there. So, we'll pretty much stay as is. On an off-day, we'll just keep it turning."
Encarnacion's errors not a concern
ARLINGTON -- Third baseman Edwin Encarnacion was charged with a fielding error in each of the Blue Jays' first two games, fueling more criticism about his defense. Manager Cito Gaston said he is not considering using a late-inning defensive replacement for Encarnacion right now.
"I think that would almost destroy him, as far as his confidence," Gaston said on Thursday. "It's the third game. You don't want guys starting to think that you don't have any confidence in them at all. There's a lot of personal feelings going on around this game."
Gaston was quick to point out that Encarnacion is still working on getting his timing down at third base and in the batter's box. The third baseman sat out for the first three weeks of Spring Training due to weakness in his surgically repaired left wrist. Gaston wants to give Encarnacion more time before considering late-inning alternatives.
"He's still having a little bit of his Spring Training right now," Gaston said. "We'll wait and see how that goes. I won't say I won't ever [use a defensive replacement], but right now we'll kind of let it go and see if he gets any better in there. He's made some tough plays, too."
Hill scratched from Thursday's game
ARLINGTON -- Blue Jays second baseman Aaron Hill was a late scratch for Thursday's afternoon game against the Rangers due to right hamstring tightness. Mike McCoy started at second in place of Hill, who is considered day to day.
In the season's first two games against Texas, Hill has gone 1-for-8 at the plate with a double and a walk. Last season, the All-Star second baseman missed only four games all season, hitting .286 with 36 home runs and 108 RBIs in 158 games for the Jays.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.