PHOENIX -- A year removed from a second career-threatening Tommy John surgery, Kyle Drabek was back in the Blue Jays' clubhouse Tuesday as a September callup, donning the Toronto blue and white for the first time since June 13, 2012.
"I'm definitely happy to be back, and with some of the old teammates," Drabek said. "My arm feels good, just real happy I didn't have any setbacks. I was fortunate for that."
The 25-year-old worked a combined 43 innings at three different levels in the Blue Jays' farm system this year, compiling a 3.14 ERA and tallying 35 strikeouts. For now, Drabek will work out of the Toronto bullpen as he continues to strengthen his arm.
"I'll just be ready for when they call down and tell me that I got the next inning," he said. "I know I won't be coming in the middle of the inning, because I know my elbow probably won't be able to take the 'get hot real quick' type of thing."
That, though, does not mean the right-hander isn't aiming for a return to a starter's role. Drabek will keep up with his rehab and exercises in the offseason, then report to camp next February with the goal of jumping in the rotation in 2014. He believes all he has been through will make him stronger in the long run.
"I've definitely learned more about myself and the game," he said. "I've grown up baseball-wise. I'm starting to figure out things I either was or wasn't doing. When things aren't going my way on the mound, I've learned to slow it down and calm myself quicker than I was able to in past years."
Acquired in the blockbuster 2009 deal that sent Roy Halladay to the Phillies, Drabek knows he will always be connected to the eight-time All-Star, but he is not concerned about proving anything to anyone. That sort of mentality, he said, does nothing but harm.
"You can't really replace a guy like him, and that's definitely not what I'm trying for," he said. "I'm not going to try to be Roy Halladay; I'm going to try to be myself and focus on what I can do. I just have to make sure I can stay healthy to do that."
Tyler Emerick is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less