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Blue Jays get in work beyond Grapefruit League game

Blue Jays get in work beyond Grapefruit League game play video for Blue Jays get in work beyond Grapefruit League game

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays had a Grapefruit League game against the Astros on Tuesday afternoon, but most of the real action could be found at the club's Minor League complex.

A series of Toronto pitchers made the short drive across Dunedin to appear in a Minor League game. R.A. Dickey, Josh Johnson and Darren Oliver all received some work as they continue to get ready for the start of the season.

Johnson was originally expected to pitch Wednesday, but the club altered his schedule because the Minor League game that day was scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. ET. He pitched Tuesday instead and proceeded to allow four earned runs on eight hits in four-plus innings of work while focusing mostly on sinkers and a backdoor slider to lefties.

"It's a little bit different just because you're a little more daring I guess," Johnson said of pitching in a Minor League game. "You can try some things you might normally wait until the season to feel comfortable doing.

"I got to work out of the stretch a lot, which was good; I wanted to work on that. I got to incorporate a few more things, which I wanted to do. It was good."

Dickey was originally supposed to throw a side session Tuesday but instead opted for a Minor League game. He pitched just two innings and will still make his next scheduled outing Friday in a Minor League game.

The decision to pitch in a game instead of a bullpen was made at Dickey's request. He had not faced hitters since Thursday after spending the past couple of weeks with Team USA at the World Baseball Classic.

Oliver's three innings might seem odd for a relatively short-stint reliever, but it is part of a process he goes through every Spring Training. Before Oliver declares himself ready for the season, he likes to throw multiple innings in the Minor Leagues in order to build up some endurance in his arm.

Oliver got through his scheduled workload in relatively short order. He allowed just two hits while striking out two and using just 28 pitches over his three innings.

"It's time to get yourself ready to go and get your arm in shape," Oliver said. "For me, it's the best way to do it. It's kind of an old-school approach."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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