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News » Raw rookie Cecil delivers along with Jays' big bats

Raw rookie Cecil delivers along with Jays' big bats

Raw rookie Cecil delivers along with Jays' big bats
After Monday night's loss to Cleveland and 13 hours before his scheduled major-league debut, Jays pitcher Brett Cecil had slipped on some jeans and a T-shirt and was preparing to leave the locker room when Ricky Romero strode toward him, calling his name.

When Cecil turned, Romero, a fellow rookie southpaw, offered a handshake and wished him good luck in the next day's game. Then he gripped Cecil's shoulders and whispered to him.

"You're the best," Romero said. "You're damn good."

Yesterday afternoon, Cecil, called up from Triple-A Las Vegas last week, felt nervous in the first inning, then settled down and gave the Jays exactly what manager Cito Gaston and general manager J.P. Ricciardi say they have wanted from their ever-changing corps of starting pitchers: a chance to win.

Cecil pitched six innings in his first big-league start, striking out six, walking none and giving up just one earned run in the Jays' eventual 10-6 win over the Cleveland Indians.

Hitting three batters wasn't part of the plan and Cecil said he sensed Cleveland catcher Kelly Shoppach staring him down the second time he hit him. But Cecil said the hit batters weren't a distraction.

"I made a couple guys mad today, but it's part of the game," he said. "It's definitely a good thing to establish the inside part of the plate. You've got to keep them uncomfortable in there."

Even behind Cecil's six strong innings, the Jays needed a seven-run seventh to overcome yet another bullpen breakdown. Relievers Jason Frasor, Jesse Carlson and Brian Wolfe combined to allow four Cleveland runs in the top of the seventh, costing Cecil a chance for his first big-league win and nearly costing the Jays a victory.

RBI singles by Aaron Hill and Alex Rios, followed by Adam Lind's three-run homer and a Scott Rolen solo shot gave the Jays the lead for good.

Lind also stroked a two-run single in the sixth off Cleveland starter Anthony Reyes, briefly giving the Jays a 3-2 lead.

"We always keep tweaking and keep honing our swings. I'm just trying to stay consistent and stay comfortable in the box," Lind said of his five-RBI game. "One (bad) swing and you can put yourself in a slump, so I'm just trying to get comfortable."

If you believed the hype surrounding Cecil, he should have been contributing to the Jays' early success weeks before yesterday. An issue of Baseball America magazine published during spring training listed Cecil as one of major league Baseball's top 25 rookies, but he was shipped to the minors long before the Jays settled on a starting rotation.

And Cecil didn't exactly dominate in Las Vegas, going 0-4 with an 8.31 ERA. Ricciardi has said repeatedly that Cecil's not in Toronto because he's major-league ready, but because of the club's sheer lack of healthy pitchers.

Even though Cecil joined the lineup as a stop-gap starter, Gaston doesn't see him that way. The manager said Cecil didn't exceed expectations with his solid debut because, despite his early exit from spring training and lacklustre minor-league stats, he expected him to perform.

"I thought he would give us a good outing and he did," Gaston said. "He took the bull by the horns today and did a good job."

mcampbell @

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: May 6, 2009

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