Notes: Getting Bush going a priority

Notes: Getting Bush going a priority

TORONTO -- The buzzword is poise, and Dave Bush has needed every ounce of control he can muster.

Toronto's second-year starter is still an unfinished product as a pitcher, but he's earned kudos for his composure on the mound and in the clubhouse. The right-hander has pitched well at times without getting any results, and he's pitched poorly at others without an end in sight.

Every time he takes the hill seems like it may be that watershed moment, but it just hasn't happened through his first nine starts. John Gibbons, Toronto's manager, said that getting Bush going is one of the team's top priorities.

"The thing about Bush: He's been erratic, but at times, he's not missing by much," said Gibbons. "We talked to him, too. 'Get away from trying to hit the corners when you're starting off. Get some over the plate, take your chances, let them put it in play. Then, when you get ahead, you can start picking a little bit more.'"

Bush was very effective in his first season, and he's gone deep in half of his games this season. He's pitched at least seven innings in four different starts, but he's also pitched five frames or less six different times, including 4 2/3 innings Saturday vs. the Twins. Gibbons said there's nothing wrong with his stuff -- even if there may be something wrong with the application of it.

The Blue Jays want Bush to attack the strike zone more and force early contact. That way, if he gets hit hard, it happens with nobody on base.

"When you fall behind, you've got to bring it over," said Gibbons. "They're sitting on you and they can zone you up. Boom. You hear it all the time, but .300 hitters make outs somehow. Give them a chance, and let your infield work for you."

Gibbons took that a step further, saying that Bush may even have a perfect role model on staff. He said that Josh Towers works with what he has and doesn't try to pitch harder than he can. He just relentlessly hits the strike zone, time and time again. He gets shelled on bad days, but there have been more good than bad recently.

"They need to pitch the same way," he said. "Towers has a little better control and he's a little more experienced, but they've got to pitch the same way. My point is, until we get to where he's commanding like he wants, he's killing himself by trying to do it and not getting the results."

Still swinging: Aaron Hill had his first three-hit game Saturday, the latest milestone in a hit-heavy week. The rookie has hit safely in seven of his eight games as a big leaguer, and he's scored at least one run in six different games.

"I'm confident in my ability to play pro ball. I've always known I'd be in the Major Leagues," said the former first-round pick. "Now I'm up here and I know there's a job to do, and that's to win. Tomorrow, I'm going to come out and play hard with a smile on my face -- do everything I can to help the team."

In his latest game, that meant slicing two of the team's six hits against Minnesota starter Kyle Lohse. It also meant scoring one of the team's runs and driving in the other two in a one-run loss.

Hill doubled off All-Star closer Joe Nathan on Saturday, but he said he's not going to start keeping score of names and faces.

"I haven't stepped back to see the names on the mound," he said. "I'm still just trying to see the ball and hit the ball. That's where I'm feeling comfortable right now, and hopefully I'll continue to do that."

Quotable: "He's pitched better than his record indicates, in my opinion. We've just got to move on and keep pounding. It's not an easy profession." -- Gibbons, talking about Bush through two months of the season

Comic relief: Brian Butterfield had the floor -- or the turf, at least. Toronto's infield coach gathered the entire team around him during batting practice and went through an improvisational comedy routine Saturday. Butterfield punctuated his monologue with bits of physical comedy, using a bat for a prop.

"It's a little foolish thing. It's called cut-bunting, but I can't divulge anything else," he said. "It's top secret. I told the players that mum's the word."

Butterfield tried to play it down afterwards, but he admitted that keeping the players loose is one of his main responsibilities. He said he doesn't mind clowning it up from time to time, as long as it doesn't interfere with the work day.

"I wasn't ready to do it, but it was requested by a couple players. There were a couple guys on the club that hadn't seen it," he said. "Your best audience is guys that have been around, because it's such a grind for a long season. They like foolishness. Overall, that's what I bring.

"Most if them genuinely liked it, and that's all that counts."

On deck: The Blue Jays and Twins will conclude this series with a Sunday matinee (1:07 p.m. ET), pitting Toronto ace Roy Halladay against Minnesota's Joe Mays. Mays shut out the Jays last week, but Halladay hasn't faced the Minnesota since 2002.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.