video thumbnail

TB@DET: Hellickson talks about his injury during BP

Jeremy Hellickson thought he pitched well enough in his last start, but it wasn't enough. Henderson Alvarez, on the other hand, probably did pitch well enough to win, but the Blue Jays' bullpen let him down.

Both will be looking for a better outcome on Thursday night as the Rays and Blue Jays square off in the rubber game at Rogers Centre.

Hellickson matched a career high by giving up five runs in a no-decision against the Red Sox on Saturday at Fenway Park. He admitted he probably could have mixed his pitches better, but he maintained that one pitch -- a game-tying two-run homer by David Ortiz -- was all that really cost him.

It would also be beneficial for the young right-hander to get his changeup on track. It's Hellickson's most effective swing-and-miss pitch, and being able to throw that along with his fastball, curve and relatively newfound cutter might help him bounce back against a tough Blue Jays lineup.

"I've got to mix it up a little better, throw more strikes," the reigning American League Rookie of the Year said. "I've just go attack better. We're going after guys but just missing. You don't want to leave balls too much over the plate. At the same time you want to be around the zone and make the pitches you want. ... I felt like I threw what I wanted to throw, but I didn't execute."

Might Hellickson and the Rays also benefit from having veteran catcher Jose Molina, a former Blue Jay now with Tampa Bay? Toronto manager John Farrell thinks it's a possibility.

"It's common when players come from another organization to us we're certainly going to pick their brain. I'm sure Tampa has done exactly that with Jose," Farrell said. "Whether it's a catcher or another position player you're going to try to find out as much as you can from the opposition's inside. Still, it's a matter of executing.

"But you're typically going to play to your own strengths. You may know some limitations or weaknesses of the opposition but still you've got to execute your strengths before you can exploit a weakness."

Alvarez, meanwhile, made a few mistakes early on in his last outing, a no-decision against the Orioles on Saturday, but he settled in and finished strong. In all, he allowed three earned runs on six hits and one walk over seven innings.

The right-hander has allowed three earned runs or fewer in nine of his 12 Major League starts. Saturday was his second quality start in two attempts this season, but he has yet to leave a game with a decision.

Rays: Upton close to returning
• Center fielder B.J. Upton will likely make his season debut with Tampa Bay on Friday against the Twins at Tropicana Field, but manager Joe Maddon left open the possibility that Upton could join the Rays in Toronto on Thursday.

On the disabled list with back soreness, Upton played Wednesday night with Double-A Montgomery, starting both halves of a doubleheader -- one in center, the other as the designated hitter.

• Outfielder Matt Joyce has been swinging a hot bat as of late. He went 3-for-5 on Wednesday with a homer and two doubles. Over the last two games, Joyce is 5-for-9 with two homers and two doubles.

Blue Jays: Hutchison, Chavez competing for fifth starter job
• Double-A right-hander Drew Hutchison and Triple-A righty Jesse Chavez are the top two candidates for the Blue Jays' fifth starter job. No final decisions have been made yet, but the club should make an announcement Thursday or Friday afternoon. Whoever wins the job will start on Saturday.

It won't be right-hander Joel Carreno, who opened the season in Toronto's rotation then found himself demoted after just one outing. The Blue Jays haven't needed a fifth starter since Carreno's last start, and general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Hutchison and Chavez have "moved ahead of him a little."

• Dustin McGowan returned to a throwing program earlier this week in Dunedin, Fla. The right-hander was expected to begin the year in the starting rotation, but has been sidelined since the spring with a right foot injury. He had to stop throwing for almost a month and figures to be out at least another six weeks as he regains arm strength.

Worth noting
Maddon saw another one of his lineup moves pay off Wednesday night, when he moved Ben Zobrist to the two-hole and Zobrist hit a two-run homer off Brandon Morrow in the first inning. Morrow had previously dominated Zobrist, who was 3-for-21 off the Blue Jays right-hander before the home run.

MLB.com Comments