Rough outing for the Bulldog this afternoon here in Dunedin. Shaun Marcum — in his first showing since being named the Opening Day starter — laid one hefty egg against the Rays.
Five innings. Nine runs. Nine hits. Two homers.
“It was just a bad day locating pitches,” Marcum said.
So, what was the problem? For starters, he was having issues hitting the corners, especially down and away with his fastball. What did he do? He kept trying, and was never able to correct the issue. But, Spring Training is the time to work, so he’ll take his lumps now.
During the season?
“Some of those pitch selections I probbaly wouldn’t have thrown in a normal game during the season,” Marcum said. “I wanted to try to hit that spot down and away, which I was struggling with today. Then again, we still have some time and I’d rather it be now than on April 5 or April whatever after that.
“It’s good to get that one out of the way and move on and get ready for that next start.”
Marcum was focusing on his two-seam and cut fastball in the 93-pitch outing, straying away from the changeups he’ll throw more often once the bell rings. It was ugly, but take it for what it is: a bad spring start during which a pitcher was working on something specific.
EARLY EXITS: First baseman Lyle Overbay left Friday’s game after colliding with Carl Crawford during a play at the bag in the first inning. Overbay was checked out by Dr. Steve Mirabello and the Jays said he suffered a left knee contusion. He’s day-to-day and the injury is not deemed serious.
In the other split-squad game in Fort Myers on Friday, Blue Jays catcher John Buck exited after only playing a few innings. No, Toronto’s players are not dropping like flies. Buck left due to a family emergency that came up on Friday. Boston’s Mike Lowell also left with a left knee contusion. Weird.
INJURY UPDATES: Prior to Friday’s game, Brandon Morrow threw off a mound in a normal bullpen session and he said his right shoulder felt fine during and after the workout. Morrow is slated to throw three innings in a Minor League game on Monday and then five innings (or 75-80 pitches) on April 3 in Houston. Barring any setbacks, pitching coach Bruce Walton said Morrow is on pace to break camp with the team.
Also on Friday, left-handed reliever Jesse Carlson tested out his left knee during a Minor League appearance for the Jays. Carlson worked one inning, tossed 11 pitches and had zeroes across. Like Morre, the Jays are optimistic about Carlson’s chances of being ready for Opening Day.
IN THE NINTH: Following Friday’s game, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said he is leaning toward naming Jason Frasor the club’s primary closer because, “he hasn’t really done anything to lose that opportunity.” Gaston added that nothing is official, but it appears as though Scott Downs and Kevin Gregg will serve as setup men.
SHUT DOWN: Dustin McGowan did not suffer another setback, but Gaston said the Jays will shut the pitcher down for another two weeks to rest his fatigued right shoulder. McGowan was instructed to rest for one week after his two-inning start last Friday, and the Jays want to give him more rest before he resumes throwing. There is no rush to bring McGowan back, so Toronto is taking a very conservative approach.
BIRD FEED: Kyle Phillips entered for Overbay in the first and all he did was homer in his first at-bat and finish 3-for-5 with four RBIs. … Leadoff man Jose Bautista went 0-for-4, but is still hitting .441 this spring. … Second baseman Aaron Hill went 3-for-4, as did outfielder Jeremy Reed. They are hitting .417 and .413, respectively this spring. Reed is having a great spring and appears to be in a battle with Mike McCoy for the 25th roster spot. … Lefty David Purcey logged 1 1/3 shutout innings, continuing to look great as a reliever. Gaston noted again today that, even if he doesn’t heard north with the Jays, Purcey will remain as a reliever to start the season. If it ain’t broke and all that. … Gregg and Merkin Valdez logged a shutout inning apiece against the Rays. Valdez is out of options and is vying for one of the final spots in the ‘pen. … In Fort Myers, McCoy went 1-for-4 and Edwin Encarnacion went 0-for-2 with a walk. McCoy is coming back from a right shoulder issue and EE a left wrist injury. … Lefty Brett Cecil started against the Red Sox and allowed no runs on two hits over five innings, ending with four strikeouts and one walk. A strong outing, but Cecil appears to be blocked from a rotation spot right now unless Morrow isn’t ready. .. Randy Ruiz went 2-for-4 against Boston.
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