TORONTO -- Brett Cecil will make his long-awaited return to the Major Leagues on Sunday afternoon against the Phillies.
Cecil was expected to begin the season as Toronto's No. 3 starter, but a subpar spring forced his demotion to the Minor Leagues. He's now back to take the spot of right-hander Brandon Morrow, who is currently on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle.
It's not the way Cecil anticipated making his season debut and, despite the opportunity, there was a lot of sympathy for the injury woes currently facing Toronto's starting rotation.
"I never want to take a guy's spot because he's hurt," Cecil said. "I want to feel like I earned it -- and I do feel like I earned it and I do deserve to be up here. But it's just a terrible thing when a guy goes down with an injury.
"Obviously, I know we need starting pitching. Hopefully, I can get in there and get off to a good start."
Cecil began the season with Double-A New Hampshire and posted a 3-2 record with a 3.38 ERA in nine starts. He was then promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he made just one start before getting the call from Toronto.
The 25-year-old experienced a drop in velocity last season, and the problems continued this spring. He reportedly has added a few miles per hour to his fastball, but said that is something he is no longer concerned about.
The biggest issue Cecil faced earlier this year was keeping the ball down in the zone, and that's a problem he believes was rectified in the Minors.
"The most important thing is how to pitch," Cecil said. "I don't know what my velocity is going to be on Sunday, nor do I care. In 2011, it was a little bit different. I didn't know what it was going to be, but I cared what it was going to be. I wanted it to be back where it was, and now it's just been a season of focusing on keeping the ball down and making my pitches move on both sides of the plate -- and pitching on both sides of the plate.
"That's really the biggest thing I've learned through this year and a half of just straight struggling -- how to pitch. I thought I knew how to pitch before, and I did somewhat. But now, I not only know how to use my pitches,
now I know how to use them against certain hitters. I feel like I can read hitters a lot better, know what they're trying to do in certain counts and using that to my advantage."