Fighting for rotation spot, Hutchison impresses

Fighting for rotation spot, Hutchison impresses

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Drew Hutchison appears to be facing an uphill battle to make the Blue Jays starting rotation, but there's still almost four weeks to change the organization's mind.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said prior to Saturday afternoon's game against the Orioles that Hutchison has an "outside shot" at the No. 5 job behind R.A. Dickey, Brandon Morrow, Mark Buehrle and J.A. Happ.

The early favorites seem to be Todd Redmond and Esmil Rogers with Hutchison currently on the outside looking in. Still, perhaps the gap was narrowed just a bit as Hutchison pitched two scoreless innings in a 9-7 loss to the Orioles on Saturday afternoon.

"Any time you get an opportunity you make the most of it and if you don't have opportunities you try to create them," said Hutchison, who allowed just one hit and struck out four. "That's something I've always tried to do regardless of what situation I'm in. So I continue to battle and go out there and perform."

Hutchison couldn't have looked much better than he did against the Orioles. He touched 94 mph on the radar gun and his fastball consistently registered in the 91-92 mph range. He also threw his full arsenal of pitches and kept the opposing hitters off-balance with a variety of looks.

If there was one thing to complain about, it was that Hutchison needed 38 pitches to get through the two innings of work. He didn't seem too happy about that after the game but there were plenty of other positives to focus on.

"For a young kid, he's kind of ahead of the game," Gibbons said. "He's a command guy. He reminds me a lot of Shaun Marcum, the body type, they're both great athletes, pitchers that aren't overpowering, but have a great feel and understanding of how to get guys out."

Hutchison missed all of 2013 following Tommy John surgery, but appears to be fully recovered this spring. The hope is that Hutchison will pick up where he left off during his rookie season when he seemed to get better with each outing as he posted a 4.60 ERA in 11 starts.

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.