The Toronto Blue Jays are set to square off against the Pittsburgh Pirates in Grapefruit League action on Wednesday afternoon. The 1:05 game in Dunedin will be the second meeting of the two teams this spring, and the first of a home and away series with the Pirates.
It will also be the second appearance of right-hander Brandon Morrow.
In his first start of the spring, another match-up with the Pirates on February 28th. Morrow looked rusty but was generally effective. Over 2 innings of work, he allowed 2 hits and 1 earned run, recording no strike-outs or walks on the afternoon. After the game, catcher Dioner Navarro was optimistic about the outing (h/t Yahoo Sports).
“He kept the ball down good, threw a couple good sliders and a couple good splitters. I know people want to see zeroes on the board, but these guys are locating their fastball and then working off the fastball. As spring training goes on, velocity is going to go up.”
Now in his second go-around, the Blue Jays are looking to see more of the same, and some solid improvements. The plan today, according to Mike Wilner, is to stretch Morrow out to three innings against the Pirates. That will give him a solid chance to loosen up and start to show what he’s got on the mound.
Morrow will be backed by a line-up that features a strong mix of big bats and players trying to make an impression.
Today's @BlueJays lineup (1:05pmET) Getz-2B Tolleson-LF Bautista-RF Encarnacion-1B Lawrie-3B Navarro-C Thole-DH Gose-CF Diaz-SS Morrow-P
— Blue Jays-Official (@BlueJays) March 5, 2014
That’s what it all comes down to for Brandon Morrow; impression. He faces a big year in 2014 and coming off of another lost season, Morrow is trying to shake the tag that he’s injury prone. In 3 of the four seasons he’s been in a Blue Jays uniform, the right-hander has been either lost time due to injuries or been shut down in order to spare his arm. In 2013, Morrow made just 10 starts, posting a 2-3 record, a 5.63 ERA, and a career-low 7.0 K/9 ratio before an entrapped radial nerve in his right forearm shut him down. He would not make another start at the Major League level after May 28th.
Still, like the rest of the team, 2014 will be a new season for Brandon Morrow. He is being heavily relied upon to help stabilize a pitching staff that ranked 29th in starters’ ERA and had the 28th fewest innings pitched by starting pitchers in 2013.
— Mike Wilner (@Wilnerness590) March 5, 2014
The moves with Chung and Murphy are fairly expected, as both catchers should see only minor league pitching this season. It’ll be interesting to see where Chung is assigned, as he made tremendous strides last season, topped off with a solid appearance in the Arizona Fall League.
The demotion of Luis Perez was a little more interesting, especially considering it came so early in camp and he no longer has minor league options available. However, the 29-year-old lefty is still working his way back from Tommy John surgery and is slated to start the season on the disabled list, according to a second tweet from Wilner.