It took a while, 50 games to be exact, but the Blue Jays and Marcus Stroman are both extremely happy he is back pitching again.
Stroman, the Duke product taken in the first round of the 2012 Draft by Toronto (No. 22 overall), began the year serving a suspension for taking a performance-enhancing drug, one the right-hander has said he took unknowingly as part of an over-the-counter supplement. The Blue Jays' No. 5 prospect made his 2013 debut Sunday and did not show any signs of rust, tossing five scoreless innings, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out six for Double-A New Hampshire.
"Obviously, we're happy he's back pitching," Blue Jays assistant general manager Andrew Tinnish said. "I know he is, too. He's such a hard worker and dedicated young man. We expect he'll hit the ground running. He's been doing a lot of good things; he's in the right frame of mind. He'd been champing at the bit, and we were excited to get him back. Now that it's here, he just has to keep working."
Stroman reached Double-A during last summer's debut, one in which he worked as a reliever. With his power stuff and smaller stature -- he is listed at 5-foot-9 -- many felt the bullpen was his future home and one that could get him to the big leagues in a hurry. At the same time, however, Stroman throws strikes, maintains his velocity and has a deep arsenal at his disposal.
"He's a starter right now," Tinnish said. "He's shown the ability to throw four pitches. I think there's a lot of quality on all four of them. His changeup is something that's developed in the last year. He's not a tall guy, as we all know, but he's athletic, and he has a quick arm. When he commands his fastball, which he's been doing, and keeps it down in the zone, it makes his secondary stuff that much better.
"I'm not going to say that he can't do this or that. He's a hard worker and is extremely dedicated."
Stroman has excelled both as a starter and reliever in the past. He threw very well in the Duke rotation as a junior and was virtually unhittable as a short reliever for Team USA the summer before that. Though the team knows he has the ability and stuff to potentially close games in the future, the plan for now is to let him continue working on starting, given the premium for those who can fill that role.
"We've seen him in both roles," Tinnish said. "We've had him in both roles as well. But it's hard to find starting pitching, and starting pitching that has quality stuff to go with it."
After recent turnaround, Gose called up
TORONTO -- Prior to Monday's contest against the Rays, the Blue Jays announced they had called up Anthony Gose from Triple-A Buffalo and sent down reliever Mickey Storey.
"I can't explain how excited I am; I'm happier than can be right now," Gose said prior to Monday's game against the Rays.
"We're really high on him in this organization," manager John Gibbons said of Gose. "He's got a great future here. And he can come up and help us in a lot of different ways that we need right now. He's the easy choice."
Despite the ease with with Gibbons said he made the choice, the timing is a bit peculiar.
The 22-year-old has struggled at the plate in Buffalo, and the speedy outfielder has been in a particularly tough stretch in the month of May, with only 14 hits in 70 at-bats to sit on the Mendoza line, something that was very mentally draining.
"The last three weeks, the last two days have been better for me, starting to get back on track," said Gose, who is batting .227 with 36 runs scored, two home runs, 12 RBIs, and five stolen bases in nine attempts in the Minors. "The early part of the month was rough for me, definitely. Definitely mentally, definitely rough; I'd worn myself out mentally so bad that I made everything to be extreme.
"Everything was just going downhill for me, just kept sliding away and sliding away," Gose added. "When you dig yourself into that hole, mentally it's tough to get out of. I was fortunate enough the last two days to kind of start getting back on track and start getting out of it."
That turnaround was the result of a talk with Bisons manager Marty Brown, and a surprise visit from Gose's father, Steve.
Gose said seeing his father "was probably the best thing for me."
Among his words of advice: "Just pull your head out and keep going. Just stay positive, and keep working. Trust in what you're doing and what you've been doing and turn the page."
It seemed to work. In the following two games against White Sox affiliate Charlotte, Gose had an on-base percentage of .500, and he scored five runs in the process.
"The last two days have been great," Gose said. "I felt a difference in Indianapolis, but I still wasn't having the at-bats that I wanted, but seeing my dad pretty much uplifted my spirits more than anything."
Whether the young California native will get much playing time in the big leagues this season is yet to be seen, and it is likely he will mostly fill in defensively for Melky Cabrera and his sore legs.
However, Gibbons still plans on using Emilio Bonifacio against left-handed starters and have Cabrera DH, making it difficult to find time for Gose.
The manager nevertheless insists there is a place for Gose in Toronto.
"He'll help us in different ways," Gibbons said. "He's a defensive specialist. He'll steal you a base, great baserunner. He's been here before, and we like him."
With Johnson rehabbing, Jenkins likely to fill rotation
TORONTO -- Toronto has recently been playing things day by day when it comes to its fourth and fifth men in the rotation.
Because the rainout in New York on Sunday pushed everyone back a day, the next time the Blue Jays have a decision to make is Friday, when the Orioles come to town.
However, don't expect Josh Johnson to be a part of that discussion.
"From what he's coming off of, I don't think he'd be the guy Friday," manger John Gibbons said of his rehabbing starter.
Johnson, who has been out since April 21 because of soreness in his right triceps muscle, made his first rehab start Monday for Class A Advanced Dunedin.
The Blue Jays' righty struck out five and walked none over three innings.
Chad Jenkins, who got called up a couple of weeks ago, was expected to pitch just five frames in his first start, something that Johnson might realistically be able to push in his next rehab start.
But it will most likely be Jenkins who gets the call for his second start of the season.
"Right now we're looking at Jenkins, but that could change, too," Gibbons said. "We'll have him throw out of the bullpen the next couple of days and see where we're at."
Lind bats cleanup against Rays
TORONTO -- Adam Lind batted cleanup Monday afternoon against the Rays for the first time this year. Part of that was because he had been swinging the bat well.
Over his last 10 games entering Monday, Lind was batting .382 with a .417 on-base percentage, including three home runs, five RBIs and eight runs scored.
"He's definitely been one of our hotter hitters," manager John Gibbons said.
Since Gibbons adjusted the lineup to have his top three bats atop the order, catcher J.P. Arencibia had seen the bulk of the time in the cleanup spot. But with Arencibia taking a day off because R.A. Dickey was one the mound, it seemed only natural to move Lind up one spot.
"We've had him in the five spot when Arencibia's playing, and Arencibia's not playing today," Gibbons said.
Despite it being Lind's debut in the four-hole this season, he spent 51 games there in 2012, second only to Edwin Encarnacion, batting .247 with three home runs and 23 RBIs.
Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.