April 3, 2012
Jays yank Cecil from rotation
By MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency
The Blue Jays saved their best curveball for the end.
On the final day of spring training the Jays whiffed starting pitcher Brett Cecil and sent him tumbling out of the rotation — all the way back to double-A New Hampshire.
It is a significant fall from grace for Cecil and one of the lone bummer stories for the Jays in what has been otherwise a spring blooming with hope and optimism.
At the start of spring training the rotation was the No. 1 concern and priority and thanks to developments the past two weeks, it remains as such.
The Jays opened camp with the thinking that their rotation would consist of Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Cecil, Henderson Alvarez and Dustin McGowan.
But nothing quite goes the way you draw it up and now manager John Farrell will trot out a rotation of Romero, Morrow, Joel Carreno in the No. 3 slot, Alvarez and Kyle Drabek as the fifth guy.
The first alarm bells went off Mar. 23, when Cecil had a meltdown against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Then McGowan developed plantar fasciitis in his right foot two days later.
The Jays hoped Cecil could deliver the goods as late as Monday but when facing the powerful Detroit lineup in Lakeland, he was blasted for seven runs on seven hits in the second inning.
That was it for Cecil and along the way, Drabek has been a model of consistency. It should be noted that four of the six outings that Drabek had against major-league teams came on the road where he faced the opposition’s ‘A’ lineups.
Following Cecil’s debacle in Lakeland, Farrell all but ticked Cecil off the list and the Jays made it official Tuesday.
“It became increasingly clear that Brett needs a few more starts to gain the consistent command that is required to compete against lineups he’s going to face at the major-league level,” Farrell told reporters. “We felt like while Aaron Laffey (another starting candidate who was a soft-tossing lefty) showed well in spring training, we’d look to get a little more power out of that spot in terms of overall stuff, and that’s where Joel, who’d been throwing the ball very well since being optioned back, comes back to us.”
Carreno, who turned 25 in March, throws in the mid-90s and had a taste of the big leagues at the end of last season. In 11 bullpen appearances (15 2/3 innings) he allowed 11 hits and two earned runs (1.15 ERA) while holding the opposition to a .200 average.
He has a power arm and the lone surprise is that he was slotted ahead of Drabek. As the fifth starter, Drabek will be skipped over after his initial start at home against Boston and will make just three starts in the opening month.
Carreno, though, was the first name that popped out of Farrell’s mouth when on Monday he named a list of minor-leaguers who were back in the running for a rotation spot.
“He’s been up to five and six innings on the minor-league side, and the fastball-slider-changeup combination gives him three pitches to attack left-handers with,” Farrell added. “We like the added power that he provides, and the sinking action that keeps the ball on the ground.
“In our division, we feel power is needed and (Drabek) has the ability to attack left-handers and right-handers with equal ability.”
The Jays, of course, aren’t completely writing Cecil off but if McGowan regains his health and performs and Carreno and Drabek don’t falter, it’s difficult to see where he fits in.
“I wouldn’t say it was just (Monday’s outing), his evaluation was from what took place toward the end of last year and throughout last year, as well as spring training,” Farrell said. “To me, it’s just consistent location, he’s not sharp yet. We’ve got to get him back down to where he’s going to be able to get regular starts to regain that sharpness.”