TORONTO -- Blue Jays left-hander Brett Cecil is taking a less-is-more approach to the start of his 2014 season.
Cecil is trying to be smarter about his everyday routine in an effort to ensure he can get through the rigors of a 162-game schedule. Part of that involves monitoring how much he throws before games and making sure he utilizes all of his off-days.
The 27-year-old Cecil is coming off a year in which he made the All-Star team and established himself as one of the better left-hander relievers in the American League. The only problem was that Cecil also started running out of gas down the stretch, and that's something he wants to avoid this season.
"I won't even pick up a baseball [Sunday], and then we have a day off on Monday," Cecil said after throwing 19 pitches in a 4-0 win over the Yankees on Saturday afternoon. "I don't even plan to come in and get some light tossing in.
"Those are things that I'm changing. If I know I'm going to be down, there's no reason for me to even play catch or get loose. It makes no sense. Like I told [pitching coach] Pete Walker, I've been pitching for 17 years. If I can't throw for one or two days and not go in there and throw strikes, then something's wrong."
Cecil is a former starter who made a full-time transition to the bullpen last season. At the beginning of the year, he was feeling so good that all he wanted to do was pitch. There wasn't much concern about working multiple days in a row, and even if he wasn't going to get into a game, Cecil wanted to go through a full warmup prior to first pitch.
Veterans like Casey Janssen and Darren Oliver warned Cecil to "save some bullets" for later in the year, but since Cecil was feeling so good at the time, he just wanted to keep pushing through. Turns out the veterans' advice was right, as Cecil did eventually hit a wall and had to be placed on the 15-day disabled list in September with a sore left shoulder.
"If I knew I had the day off, I would go out for stretch and I'd usually throw," said Cecil, who posted a 2.82 ERA in 60 2/3 innings last season. "There was no reason to throw, but I'd still just throw. That's where I'm saving it. There's no sense to pick up a baseball either of those days. I'll come back and be fresh, ready to go for Tuesday."