DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Kyle Drabek continues to make progress with his modified mechanics during the middle stages of Spring Training.
The Toronto right-hander arrived at camp in February and was tasked with throwing his bullpen sessions between a pair of yellow lines on the mound.
The goal was to force Drabek to stay on line while in his delivery and not tail off to the first-base side. That's been working relatively well as Drabek attempts to put last year's disappointing season behind him.
"The early work, even in his two-inning stint down in Bradenton, results, setting them aside, he was able to maintain the lines that we've talked about," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said of Drabek's outing on Wednesday in which he allowed three runs in two innings.
"What that shows is that even though there might have been that added emotion in there, or adrenaline, facing Major League hitters and some adverse situations he didn't come out of his delivery as we've seen in the past."
Drabek's difficulty dealing with adversity is something that plagued him during the 2011 season. He went 4-5 with a 6.06 ERA in 78 2/3 innings and often got visibly frustrated on the mound when things didn't go his way.
Keeping those emotions in check is something the Blue Jays have talked at great length about with the 24-year-old righty. During an outing last week against the Pirates, there was a prime example of where some calls behind the plate didn't go his way and Drabek had to deal with the fallout.
"The one thing that you can sense during some pitches that didn't go his way there was a little bit of frustration there," Farrell said. "The one thing we highlighted the next day in a little bit of a review for his outing, those have to be looked upon as opportunities, not frustrations.
"That's a 180 that he has to do mentally when those borderline calls don't happen, he's got to earn those and so by turning it around in his mind is an opportunity to make another pitch and prove that he can repeat that. That's when he's going to earn those calls from the umpires standing behind home plate."
Drabek was supposed to pitch three innings against the Braves in Kissimmee on Sunday afternoon, but his outing was cut short after just one frame because of rain.
Villanueva on track, resumes regular schedule
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Carlos Villanueva is back on track after experiencing circulation problems in his right hand at the beginning of Spring Training.
Villanueva appeared in his first game of the Grapefruit League season on Saturday afternoon against Houston and allowed one unearned run in one inning.
The 28-year-old will now move into a regular spring schedule and will be ready to go for the start of the season, barring any setbacks.
"With just being back out because of the hand issue -- the circulation issue -- that was there temporarily it's just a matter of him building back up," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "He'll go multiple innings, multiple times before we break camp."
Villanueva is a clear favorite to win one of the final two spots in Toronto's bullpen. He is receiving competition from left-handers Luis Perez and Evan Crawford and right-hander Rick VandenHurk.
The Dominican native went 6-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 107 innings for the Blue Jays in 2011. He is 26-28 with 4.28 ERA and 449 strikeouts in 263 career games.
Extra games give relievers more opportunities
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays began a tough Spring Training schedule on Sunday that will see the team play 10 games in the next seven days.
Three split-squad games have added to the overall workload, but with 57 players still in camp and plenty of pitchers needing to be provided with multiple innings, the extra games are more of a bonus than anything else.
The biggest beneficiaries will be the relievers competing for a role in long relief. Carlos Villanueva, Rick VandenHurk, Luis Perez and Aaron Laffey all will throw multiple innings in order to get their arms properly strengthened for the start of the year.
"We're at the time in camp where they're ready for it," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "It's somewhat uncommon to have 10 games in one week, thankfully. But it does give opportunity for a number of guys to get stretched out, to get a number of innings.
"You're always looking for those multi-inning relievers that can complement the veteran guys, the one-inning guys that are going to bridge the game to close things out. This week will provide plenty of those opportunities."