TORONTO - As the Blue Jays played the Orioles in the opener of a four-game series Thursday evening, Friday night's starter was making his way to Toronto from Portland, Maine.
Sean Nolin, a 23-year-old lefthander who was the club's sixth round pick in the 2010 draft, will make his major league debut.
“Super excited,” said Nolin, who arrived shortly after the Blue Jays 12-6 win over Baltimore and addressed the media almost immediately. “(Pitching in the major leagues) is something I've wanted to do since I was probably five years old and I'm happy to be here.”
It was a whirlwind day. Nolin was informed of his call up while sitting in the dugout as his New Hampshire Fisher Cats teammates were playing Portland. He quickly packed, made the two hour drive from Portland to Boston, caught a flight to Toronto and arrived at Rogers Centre shortly after 10 o'clock.
There will be no rest for the weary. Nolin couldn't predict how well, if at all, he would sleep but when he arrives at the park on Friday catcher J.P. Arencibia will be waiting for him. They have a game plan to discuss.
“I got to catch him last year when I was rehabbing in the (Florida) State League for the playoffs,” said Arencibia. “He's got good stuff. The biggest thing to know is you're here for a reason, you belong here. He's got great stuff. It's just now about going out there and playing. It's the same exact game, no different, it's just relaxing and trusting your abilities. God gave him some gifts, just use them.”
Nolin features four pitches: fastball, changeup, curveball and slider. In three starts with New Hampshire, Nolin is 2-0 with a 1.17 ERA. He's struck out 16 hitters in 15 1/3 innings. All the more impressive considering Nolin missed the first month of the season rehabbing an injury.
Nolin's parents, Edward and Patricia, will be in attendance Friday night after making the 10-hour drive from their Long Island home. They'd drive but they don't yet have their passports.
“That's on them,” Nolin joked.
Casey Janssen reflected on his major league debut, also against Baltimore, on April 27, 2006.
“I was kind of in awe,” said Janssen. “You think all that hard work and all the time and efforts that you put into it; of course it's a special day. I honestly couldn't wait for it to be over. Hopefully his nerves will be calmed down a little bit and he can pitch his game and pitch to his strengths and treat it as much as he can as if it's just another baseball game.”
Meantime, the Blue Jays will give the ball to Chad Jenkins on Sunday, which means veteran Ramon Ortiz will be designated for assignment on Friday to create a roster spot for Nolin.
Jenkins, who's been available out of the bullpen but hasn't been used, hasn't pitched since throwing five effective innings of one run ball in a 12-4 win at Boston on May 12.
“I've been able to throw quite a few ‘pens so my location, I mean I threw a ‘pen the other night, my location feels pretty good, a lot of happier than I thought I was going to be with it,” said Jenkins of dealing with the time off. “So, for me, that's kept me fresh and then the fact these past few nights I've had to mentally lock in that I might actually have to pitch in a game so that right there has helped me visually what I have to get done.”
EPY GUERRERO PASSES AWAY
The Blue Jays held a moment of silence prior to Thursday's game to mourning the death of long-time scout Epy Guerrero.
Guerrero is credited with signing more than 40 Latino players who would play in the big leagues. He was responsible for acquiring some of the Blue Jays' greatest ever talent, including Tony Fernandez, George Bell and Carlos Delgado.
Guerrero died on Thursday. He was 71.