KANSAS CITY – Marcus Stroman's major league debut may come sooner rather than later.
But it will not be on the current road trip.
Encouraged by Dustin McGowan's start on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium, manager John Gibbons will hand him the ball again on Sunday in Pittsburgh and go with left-hander J.A. Happ on Monday in Philadelphia.
"We'll see where that takes us," said Gibbons.
McGowan pitched into the seventh inning on Tuesday for just the second time this season. His spot in the rotation is vulnerable, with Gibbons on repeated occasions saying how much he values McGowan out of the bullpen.
Happ, entering Thursday's series finale with the Royals, hadn't pitched in more than a week, a 2 2/3 inning performance against the Baltimore Orioles on April 23.
He entered spring training with a spot in the rotation but posted a 20.57 ERA in four Grapefruit League appearances and missed time with inflammation in his back. His performance forced the Blue Jays to seek alternatives.
Stroman, who turned 23 on Thursday, is coming off a 10-strikeout, one-walk, no-hit performance over six innings for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons on Tuesday night. Along with Aaron Sanchez, he is considered a top pitching prospect and some in the organization believe he is major league-ready.
When the Blue Jays acquired Anthony Gose from the Astros on July 29, 2010, he was a hot prospect less than two weeks shy of his 20th birthday.
Now, almost four years later, Gose is up for a second time this season and has been on the option train for a couple of seasons. He's up when the Blue Jays need him and back in Buffalo when they don't.
"He's got to play and be productive," said Gibbons. "It's like anybody else. When it comes down to the big leagues it's about production. There's no secrets; you can hope guys are going to do something but eventually it's all about production. That's why it's so hard to make it in the big leagues and stay for any length of time. That's why guys come and go, bounce up and down. Big part of it is opportunity but when you get it you've got to take advantage of it."
In 19 games with the Bisons, Gose is hitting .235/.350/.309. He's walking at a higher clip than usual with 12 free passes in 81 plate appearances (14.8 per cent).
"I think it was too cold for me to swing," Gose joked. "I wasn't trying to do anything different. I wasn't working on anything. I just walked a little bit more earlier on."
He admits it's difficult to get into a groove early in the International League season because of the weather. Games are often rained out; sometimes games are snowed out.
"I think this year was much colder and a lot longer than last year, especially in other cities also," said Gose. "I don't know if it's going to warm up. It's been freezing. I got here and it's freezing too. Everywhere I'm playing baseball it's cold."
To accommodate the recall of Gose, the Blue Jays optioned infielder Jonathan Diaz to Triple-A Buffalo.
Toronto also purchased the contract of infielder/outfielder Steve Tolleson. To make room for Tolleson on the 40-man roster, outfielder Moises Sierra was designated for assignment.
The moves give the Blue Jays additional depth in the absence of Melky Cabrera, who was hit by a pitch on his left shin in Wednesday night's game and is listed as day-to-day.
HIGH PRAISE FOR BAUTISTA
Pointing out that Jose Bautista is good at baseball is a waste of everyone's time. Nobody's splitting the atom with such an observation.
Through the first month of the season, Bautista is baseball's leader in on-base percentage (.465) and on-base plus slugging percentage (1.065). His eight home runs prorate to a total of 48 over a 162-game schedule.
Defensively, Bautista has one outfield assist and has come close on a couple of other occasions. His arm is feared by opposition baserunners.
What aren't so obvious to the viewing public are Bautista's contributions to game preparation.
"He's helped me out more than you can imagine, more than I ever imagined (he would)," said first-year outfield coach Tim Leiper. "When I'm out there it's like having another coach out there because number one, he's been in the league, he's seen everybody, he has great recall and he knows the game situations."
When Bautista shifts to centerfield, which has happened in four games so far this season, Leiper jokes that his work day ends. Bautista takes charge and knows where he wants himself and his corner outfielders to be on each pitch.
"From day one in spring training every fungo, every drill, 100-percent fundamentally correct every single time," said Leiper. "You watch him in the game, he's into every pitch, he doesn't take pitches off. There's a reason why he's good at everything he does. He's intelligent and he's into it. He's as professional a guy as I've ever been around."