DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays are sticking with what has worked in the past and intend to ease Brandon Morrow into the start of the Grapefruit League season.
Morrow will get the call for the club's first game this spring on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET against the Tigers on MLB.TV, but he is expected to throw just one inning. Morrow's the only starter not scheduled for two frames during his first time out, but that has more to do with his past success than anything else.
"It's what he did last year," pitching coach Pete Walker said. "We're going to stick to what worked for him. He had a great spring last year, came along nicely. [We] gave him the necessary days off that he needed to keep him fresh, and things worked very well, so he's going to stick to the plan."
Morrow enjoyed a career season in 2012 by posting a 2.96 ERA in 124 2/3 innings of work and easily was the club's most reliable starter. He's set to open the year as the No. 2 hurler behind R.A. Dickey and will have plenty of time to be stretched out before the end of Spring Training.
Brett Cecil will take over for Morrow with two innings of work against Detroit. The 26-year-old is competing for a job in the bullpen, and the extended workload doesn't mean he's being looked at as a candidate to start.
Lefties Mark Buehrle and J.A. Happ will each throw two innings in a pair of split-squad games vs. the Orioles and Yankees on Sunday. Both games are at 1:05 p.m., and the contest vs. New York will air on MLB.TV. Dickey and Josh Johnson are scheduled for two innings on Monday against Boston at 1:05 p.m., while Ricky Romero will round out the rotation with two frames against the Twins on Tuesday at 1:05 p.m.
"More or less, it's going to be a pitch count," Walker said of the tentative schedule. "It's going to be 30 pitches ... If some of those starters are listed for two innings, they certainly aren't going to throw two if it's a long first inning.
"We have time. We're getting them right. Most of them are on their five-day rotation right out of the chute. The second outing will only be two innings as well. We have an extra four or five days in the spring, so we're going to make sure these guys are where they need to be at the end of Spring Training to start the season."
Dickey to have personal catcher this season
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Manager John Gibbons confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that the Blue Jays will provide knuckleballer R.A. Dickey with his own personal catcher this season.
There had been some debate whether Toronto would alternate using J.P. Arencibia and either Josh Thole or Henry Blanco when Dickey was on the mound, but that notion has now come to an end.
With Dickey's unique style of pitching, Gibbons feels as though it's important to have a consistent presence behind the plate.
"They have to get the [side sessions] in, they have to spend a lot of time working with Dickey, because it's an unusual and unique pitch," Gibbons said. "It takes a lot of work."
That would seem to indicate the Blue Jays aren't going to use Arencibia in games that Dickey starts. Thole caught Dickey last season, while Blanco also crossed paths with the veteran starter in 2010.
But Arencibia still has time to prove he can handle the workload. He's set to join Dickey with Team USA at the upcoming World Baseball Classic in March and has been working with him during recent bullpen sessions.
The 26-year-old Arencibia has made no secret about his desire to catch the 2012 National League Cy Young Award winner, but Arencibia said he'll ultimately embrace whatever decision the club opts to make.
"The thing is, it's really not about me, it's not about R.A., it's really not about anybody else but the team," Arencibia said. "That's the concept of it, whatever the best chances of it are that day. There's a lot that goes with catching a knuckleballer, too.
"I understand no one catches 162 games and there's a time for a blow, and if I'm not that guy, I'm going to be playing every other day. It's not an issue for me. It's just about the team. Obviously you want to play every day. I've expressed that, but I know I can't catch every game."
Gibbons will be tested to use club's depth
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Depth has to be considered a positive thing, but the amount of talent the Blue Jays possess this season could make things rather challenging for John Gibbons.
Toronto's manager will have to walk a fine line when writing down his daily lineup. He'll need to focus on fielding the best team while also finding a way to keep reserves like Rajai Davis and either Emilio Bonifacio or Maicer Izturis ready for action.
"In the American League, you don't use your bench like the National League, so they won't get as much work," Gibbons admitted. "But what it allows us to do, if we want to give any guy on the field a night off, against a tough left-hander, if we want to give [Colby] Rasmus a day off, we have a lot of different options.
"That's big, because they're all going to need a day off every now and then, and you feel good about the guy you're putting in. It's not like you're just throwing everybody in there."
The issue could become a little more glaring if the Blue Jays decide to use Bonifacio in center field on days when Rasmus needs a day off. That would relegate Davis to the role of fifth outfielder and late-inning pinch-runner.
One possible solution would be to sit Rasmus and designated hitter Adam Lind against lefties while starting both Bonifacio and Davis at the same time. Rasmus hit just .182 against lefties last season while Lind hit .202.