TAMPA, Fla. (AP) - Jo-Jo Reyes went out and pitched like he belongs in the Toronto rotation.
Reyes allowed two runs and three hits in six-plus innings of the Blue Jays' 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees on Wednesday night.
Reyes, Kyle Drabek and Jesse Litsch had been contending for the final two open starting jobs until the team decided earlier Wednesday to have No. 2 starter Brandon Morrow open the regular season on the disabled list with right forearm inflammation.
``Hard work paid off,' Reyes said. ``I've still got a lot of work to go. The season hasn't even started yet.'
The trio will now join opening-day starter Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil in the rotation. Reyes was obtained in five-player trade last July that sent shortstop Alex Gonzalez to Atlanta.
``It's a starting point,' Toronto manager John Farrell said. ``I don't know if we've ever been around a 25-man roster or a 12-man pitching staff that ended the way it started.'
Aaron Hill had an RBI double and sacrifice fly for the Blue Jays. The second baseman played in consecutive game for the first time since returning from a strained right thigh muscle.
Yankees right-hander Phil Hughes gave up three runs and eight hits in seven innings. Robinson Cano hit an RBI single and Russell Martin had a sacrifice fly in a four-run seventh.
New York right fielder Nick Swisher fouled a ball off his left in-step, but finished his at-bat in the sixth. Swisher is sore, but no X-rays were planned.
``Gets him a day of treatment,' manager Joe Girardi said. ``Hopefully, it's day to day.'
The next step in filling two open spots in the Yankees rotation will take place on Thursday's off day, when Freddy Garcia will pitch in a minor league game.
``I think we have a pretty good feel on what Freddy can do, and we had a pretty idea when he came into camp,' Girardi said.
Ivan Nova and Garcia appear to be in position to win the slots in the competition that also includes Bartolo Colon and Sergio Mitre.
``Now we're getting to the point where we just have to sit down and have a long meeting,' Girardi said.
Colon has had a strong spring after not pitching in the majors last year, going 1-0 with a 2.45 ERA in four stars. He has struck out 17 and walked one over 15 innings.
``Will there be a point where innings catch up to him in the course of the season?' Girardi said. ``That's somewhat of a concern when you have a guy coming off injuries that hasn't thrown a lot. You have to count in your mind and project how many innings he'll give you.'
New York's long reliever will likely come from the back of the rotation competition.
Yankees closer Mariano Rivera worked a 1-2-3 eighth for his fourth scoreless inning overall. He expects to pitch two more times before spring training ends.
The Blue Jays sent promising third baseman Brett Lawrie to their minor league camp before the game.
``The fact is we've got an exciting young player in our system,' Farrell said. ``Whenever he's ready to come to the big leagues, we feel like we're going to have a player for a long, long time that's going to be productive for us.'
NOTES: Vice President Joe Biden spent around 30 minutes watching the Yankees workout. ... Blue Jays reliever Frank Francisco (right pectoral muscle) will also start the season on the DL. He will resume a throwing program on Sunday. ... New York reliever Joba Chamberlain (upper left side muscle soreness) said he felt fine one day after pitching one inning. The right-hander had been shutdown for 10 days. ... New York LHP Kei Igawa was back at minor league camp. He had returned to Japan to with his family following this month's earthquake.
The Associated Press News Service
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