Encarnacion, Hutchison, Norris

By Bob Elliott

LAKELAND, Fla. _ Drew Hutchison can go home again. 

And pitch. And win.

The Blue Jays right-hander allowed one run in four innings in his hometown in a lopsided romp over the Detroit Tigers Tuesday afternoon.

Not that he has pitched at Joker Marchant Stadium often. In fact the only other outing was when he followed Dustin McGowan to the mound after McGowan’s two-inning rehab start for the class-A Dunedin Blue Jays in 2011. 

Hutchison pitched four innings extending his scoreless string and suddenly the streak was smashed by the Lakeland Flying Tigers, led by Avisail Garcia, Rob Brantly and Jordan Lennerton.

Lefty Chris Sale of the Chicago White Sox (an eight round pick by the Colorado Rockies in 2007 and 13th over all three years later from Florida Gulf Coast) and Hutchison (15th rounder in 2009) are the two best the Lakeland Senior High School Dreadnaughts ever produced.

Hutchison wasn’t pleased with first-inning walks to Miguel Cabrera and Jarrod Saltalamacchia in the first after being staked to a lead before he took the mound. Nick Castellanos hit a ground-rule double to produce a run.
“It’s good to come back home, it was a fun time,” said Hutchison.

Now, with 10 days remaining does Hutchison start the season at triple-A Buffalo or hope that the Jays put Aaron Sanchez in the bullpen to win the fifth spot in the rotation?

“All I know is he won 13 games for us last year and we usually scored a bunch of runs,” said manager John Gibbons. “He had another good outing and he keeps getting those runs.”

The Jays scored three before Hutchison ever took the mound, three more in the second and five in the fifth. A second long inning of sitting ended his day.

He threw 66 pitches and said it won’t be “difficult getting to 80 pitches next time out.”  


NO EDWIN DEMAND .... YET: Edwin Encarnacion has not asked for a five-year deal.

So says Paul Kinzer, his agent.

“I don’t like to negotiate in the newspaper, but since it’s out there (Sportsnet) I’ll answer,” Kinzer said from Phoenix.

“We have never put a number on the terms of the length of the contract. We have never discussed a dollar amount.”

The report compares Encarnacion to DH Travis Hafner, two “aging, bad-bodied, one-dimensional DH types. 

“Edwin is strong as an ox, he doesn’t have a bad body,” said Kinzer.

Jays president Mark Shapiro must decide what to do as Encarnacion is eligible for free agency at the end of the season. As general manager of the Cleveland Indians he signed Hafner to a four-year, $57 million US deal.

Encarnacion earns $10 million this season, the final year of a three-year $29 million deal. 

He is supposed to make his spring debut this week in minor league games as he recovers from an oblique injury. 

Over the past four years only Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers has more RBIs (461-423) than Encarnacion. 

Only Baltimore Orioles’ Chris Davis had hit more home runs (159-151). Encarnacion is fifth (.549) in slugging and eighth in OPS (.919).

AND HE LIVES IN A VAN: There is that great line on facing your old team ...

What is it supposed to be like?

“Like bumping into your ex girlfriend coming out of a restaurant with Miss America on your arm.”

Instead it was as if Daniel Norris got run over by an angry bus boy.

The former Jays lefty departed after 25 pitches, six hitters into the game, due to lower back tightness. Norris has shown himself to be the most promising arm in camp. His back is another matter.

For the second time in four days, a lower-back issue pushed Norris to the sidelines. 

“Daniel is a guy you root for,” said manager John Gibbons before the game, “I’m a big fan. He’s a unique kid. We didn’t want to part with him, but we wanted David Price.”

Opposing starter Drew Hutchison and Norris roomed together last year and Hutchison exchanged texts with the lefty over the winter, with Hutchison adding “I hope he’s healthy.”

After a one-out bloop single by Josh Donaldson in the first, Jose Bautista and Norris tangled for nine pitches, before Bautista worked a walk. 

“His velocity was real strong for his first 10 pitches,” Tigers’ manager Brad Ausmus said, “you could tell he didn’t feel quite right.”

With a 3-0 count to Justin Smoak. Ausmus and trainer Kevin Rand headed to see Norris, who walked off down the right field corner to Tigers’ clubhouse.

Shane Greene and Matt Boyd are competing with Norris for a rotation spot.

Game Box Blue Jays 16, Tigers 1
SS Troy Tulowitzki, 1B Justin Smoak and OF Darrell Ceciliani all homered.
RHP Drew Hutchison pitched four innings allowing one run.
3B Josh Donaldson had three hits knocking in a run.
DH Chris Colabello doubled and tripled knocking in three runs.