TORONTO -- Brett Cecil will make his long-awaited return to the Major Leagues on Sunday afternoon against the Phillies.
Cecil was expected to begin the season as Toronto's No. 3 starter, but a subpar spring forced his demotion to the Minor Leagues. He's now back to take the spot of right-hander Brandon Morrow, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle.
It's not the way Cecil anticipated making his season debut and, despite the opportunity, there was a lot of sympathy for the injury woes currently facing Toronto's starting rotation.
"I never want to take a guy's spot because he's hurt," Cecil said. "I want to feel like I earned it -- and I do feel like I earned it and I do deserve to be up here. But it's just a terrible thing when a guy goes down with an injury.
"Obviously, I know we need starting pitching. Hopefully, I can get in there and get off to a good start."
Cecil began the season with Double-A New Hampshire and posted a 3-2 record with a 3.38 ERA in nine starts. He was then promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he made just one start before getting the call from Toronto.
The 25-year-old experienced a drop in velocity last season, and the problems continued this spring. He reportedly has added a few miles per hour to his fastball, but said that is something he is no longer concerned about.
The biggest issue Cecil faced earlier this year was keeping the ball down in the zone, and that's a problem he believes was rectified in the Minors.
"The most important thing is how to pitch," Cecil said. "I don't know what my velocity is going to be on Sunday, nor do I care. In 2011, it was a little bit different. I didn't know what it was going to be, but I cared what it was going to be. I wanted it to be back where it was, and now it's just been a season of focusing on keeping the ball down and making my pitches move on both sides of the plate -- and pitching on both sides of the plate.
"That's really the biggest thing I've learned through this year and a half of just straight struggling -- how to pitch. I thought I knew how to pitch before, and I did somewhat. But now, I not only know how to use my pitches, now I know how to use them against certain hitters. I feel like I can read hitters a lot better, know what they're trying to do in certain counts and using that to my advantage."
Blue Jays place Hutchison on 15-day DL
TORONTO -- Drew Hutchison became the third Blue Jays casualty this week when he was officially placed on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday morning because of an injured right elbow.
Hutchison was diagnosed with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and is currently in a no-throw situation for the next two weeks. With a vacant spot on the 25-man roster, Toronto recalled right-hander Robert Coello from Triple-A Las Vegas.
The 21-year-old Hutchison will get a second opinion on his elbow to rule out a more serious injury. But at this point, there does not appear to be a significant tear to the ligament.
"It's not ideal, after seeing everything that has gone on," Hutchison said of the club's recent injury woes. "It's tough, the team's in a tough spot. You want to go out and help shoulder that weight any way you can -- and you come up with it yourself.
"But it is what it is. I'm not going to throw a pity party. I'm going to get back and try to help the team."
Hutchison was the third Blue Jays pitcher to go down with an injury in the last four games. He was forced to depart Friday night's start after just nine pitches because of soreness in his right elbow. While Hutchison cannot throw for at least the next 14 days, there is no timetable for his return.
The native of Florida had become one of the Blue Jays' more reliable starters in recent weeks. He posted a 5-3 record with a 4.60 ERA during 11 starts in his rookie campaign before the unfortunate injury.
Pitching can be a dangerous profession at times as Hutchison joined Brandon Morrow (strained left oblique) and Kyle Drabek (torn UCL) on the DL, and manager John Farrell said there really wasn't anything that could be done to avoid the latest setback.
"Four times he threw over 100 pitches -- no more than 112," Farrell said. "To me, the number of pitches inside of a given game, when you might balance in fatigue at some point where an injury might show up later in the game, this is on pitch nine.
"I wish I could have [foreseen] it coming, and would have certainly made a change before it ever happened. Unfortunately, pitching is a game of attrition -- and we're seeing a lot of it right now."
A lot was made of Hutchison throwing with increased velocity in recent starts. Hutchison previously threw in the low 90s, but recently began to top out at 94-95 mph.
According to Hutchison, that had more to do with pitch selection than increased intensity. He doesn't feel like the extra couple of miles per hour on his fastball had anything to do with the sprained UCL.
"I'd say the only difference was I was throwing more four-seamers," said Hutchison, who added this is the first time he has dealt with an elbow injury. "So it's natural that I'd throw the four-seamer harder than the two-seamer. So, I don't think that had anything to do with it.
"I felt normal. The exact same, same routine the whole way."
Coello is a welcome addition to a bullpen that was forced to throw 8 1/3 innings on Friday night. He will serve in long relief and has an outside chance to earn one of the two vacant jobs in Toronto's starting rotation. Coello tossed two shutout innings for the Blue Jays in his one appearance with the big league club earlier this year.
Farrell sifting through rotation candidates
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays have yet to make a final decision on who will fill the two vacancies in their starting rotation.
Left-hander Brett Cecil was recalled from Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday to take the spot of injured starter Brandon Morrow. Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison have since joined Morrow on the disabled list to create an additional two openings.
Triple-A right-hander Jesse Chavez is an early favorite for one of jobs, while long reliever Carlos Villanueva made a case for himself with four scoreless innings of relief on Friday night.
"[Villanueva is] in the mix, yeah," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Yet, we haven't determined who's going to start on Wednesday. I don't have anything more definitive than that for you right now."
Villanueva served in a similar role last season. He began the year in the bullpen, but eventually transitioned to the rotation following a series of injuries and subpar performances by the starters.
The 28-year-old was effective in that role until he began dealing with a right-arm injury. He went on to post a 5.15 ERA in 13 starts. In the past, Villanueva has expressed a desire to return to the starting rotation and believes he is more suited for that job than he was in 2011.
"I pitched two months with a little bit of pain in my elbow, but it was just fatigue," Villanueva said of last season. "I just hadn't prepared for that the season before. I'm coming from a season that I threw 50 innings, and all of a sudden I'm over the 100-inning mark.
"But this offseason, actually, I prepared all the way around. It's better to prepare to start, throw 180 innings and then take it down from there than have to build up during the season. My arm has been treating me well throughout my career, so I don't expect anything different."