Crawford impressing when opportunities arise

Crawford impressing when opportunities arise

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Left-hander Evan Crawford continues to make a strong impression with Toronto manager John Farrell.

Crawford struck out two and pitched a perfect fourth inning in his first official appearance of the Grapefruit League season.

The 25-year-old still faces an uphill battle to break camp with the Blue Jays, but it's possible -- if Crawford keeps pitching well -- that could change.

"Very crisp stuff ... name recognition isn't phasing him one bit, and it's good to see," Farrell said of Crawford, who struck out Miguel Cabrera in Monday's 4-2 loss to the Tigers. "We talked the other day about guys making an impression, and it's been two appearances, but still, he's making the most of his opportunities."

Crawford's first chance to shine came during an intrasquad game on Friday, when he pitched a clean inning and caught Jose Bautista looking on a devastating changeup.

The native of Florida faces his stiffest competition for a spot in the bullpen from fellow left-hander Luis Perez. One factor working in Perez's favor, though, is that he's out of options on his contract and would need to go through waivers before being assigned to the Minor Leagues.

That should give Perez a leg up on Crawford, who likely will begin the year with Triple-A Las Vegas. Last season with Double-A New Hampshire, Crawford went 3-5 with a 3.35 ERA in 51 innings out of the bullpen.