DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Brandon Morrow had a slight improvement with his overall command on Monday afternoon, but he still has some work to do in that area before the start of the regular season.
Morrow has been battling inconsistent fastball command for most of the spring. It has been his top priority for the past several weeks, and his start vs. Philly in the Blue Jays' 6-3 loss on Monday was a step in the right direction.
Toronto's right-hander allowed four runs, but managed to avoid a lot of hard contact. The problem is that there were also three walks in five innings, including two on four pitches.
"Out of all of the base hits, none of them were really struck all that hard," said Morrow, who allowed five hits in five innings. "Every one was on a really good pitch. There's really not a lot to complain about as far as the pitches they hit.
"But obviously I would have liked to have not walked the two guys in the scoring innings that set up the scoring for them."
Outside of those two four-pitch walks, Morrow's fastball command was a lot closer to where it should be for the first week of the season. He also got his pitch count up to 74, which was his highest of the spring.
Morrow's next outing is scheduled for Saturday against the Mets in Montreal. Toronto has yet to officially confirm its rotation, but Morrow is expected to pitch in either Game 4 or 5 of the regular season.
Morrow dealt with a forearm injury last season and a torn oblique in 2012, so it's pretty clear what his top priority is for this year.
"I have to prove I'm going to stay healthy, that's No. 1, obviously," Morrow said. "I'm sure that's no surprise. Especially last year, I mean, the oblique is just so far in the past, it's a non-issue. I haven't had any problems with that at all. But staying healthy this year is my No. 1 goal."
Janssen works scoreless frame in spring debut
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Casey Janssen made his long-awaited spring debut on Monday afternoon with a scoreless inning against the Phillies in the Blue Jays' rain-shortened 6-3 loss.
Janssen had been out of action since the beginning of camp because of a sore shoulder. He pitched in a pair of Minor League games last week, but this was his first time on the mound against big leaguers.
The 32-year-old retired the first two Phillies he faced, surrendered a pair of back-to-back singles and then got out of his inning without any damage by retiring the final batter.
"I threw a changeup in that one spot just to get a changeup, in case there was an early out," Janssen said of his strategy once he got two quick outs. "It's always good to get a workout in, get a sweat. Not every inning is going to be clean. I got to pitch in the stretch. Runners on first and third, you have to make a pitch, and it was good to do that, too."
One potential alarming part of Janssen's outing was that he didn't top 86 mph on his fastball, according to the radar gun at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. That's a concern, but still not quite as big of a deal as it would be for some other pitchers. Janssen has never been an overpowering reliever, and he typically relies on control and a wide array of pitches to get through his outings.
Janssen averaged 90.1 mph on his fastball in 2013 according to FanGraphs, but his in first few outings of the year, he was typically throwing in the high 80s. He has a couple of outings remaining in the spring to get back to that level, and his expectation is that his velocity will continue to climb once the regular season starts.
The native of California is scheduled to pitch again on Thursday before making an appearance on Friday night at Olympic Stadium in Montreal as part of the two-game exhibition series vs. the Mets.
"As I continue to challenge my arm, my velocity will come," Janssen said. "Still kind of feel like you're breaking through some stuff from the winter. Each and every day, you kind of hit a new high and continue on like that. I'm a command guy, I don't normally look back at the radar gun, because it doesn't really matter to me. Whatever I have that day is what I've got, and I try to use it."
Blue Jays option Gose, send three others down
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays made another round of cuts on Monday morning by optioning outfielder Anthony Gose and re-assigning Mike Nickeas, Chris Getz and John Tolleson to Minor League camp.
Toronto now has 30 players remaining in camp: three catchers, eight infielders, five outfielders and 14 pitchers. One catcher, two infielders and at least one pitcher likely will be sent down within the next couple of days.
Gose is the biggest name in the latest group of cuts, but his departure hardly comes as a surprise. For the past couple of weeks, it has become a foregone conclusion that he was set to start the year in the Minor Leagues.
The 23-year-old remains one of the organization's top prospects, but still has a lot of work to do at the plate before he's ready for a full-time role at the next level. He strikes out far too often and needs to improve his on-base percentage, but his overall skillset is still very enticing to the organization.
Gose has game-changing speed on the basepaths and plays very solid defense in center field. In 313 at-bats at the big league level, Gose is a .240 hitter with a .294 on-base percentage.