Kyle Drabek broke camp last season with the Toronto Blue Jays as the team’s fifth starter.
This year, the 24-year-old is on the outside looking in, knowing that only a strong performance here at the Blue Jays spring training camp will allow him to make the team that will head north for the start of the regular season.
“Every year I want to have a big year,” Drabek said. “Last year’s last year. This is a new year. I’ve already forgotten about it and ready to start this one.”
Last season was certainly forgettable for the Texan, who was the key piece that the Blue Jays received in the Roy Halladay trade of two years ago.
After starting the season with the team, Drabek lasted a little over two months in the rotation, struggling to throw strikes, going 4-5 in 14 starts with a 5.70 ERA before he was relegated to the minors.
Drabek was back up in September where he made four more appearances before the season ended.
Toronto manager John Farrell doesn’t include Drabek’s name among the favourites early in this year’s camp to earn a spot in the rotation.
Right now Farrell said he would rate Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Henderson Alvarez and Dustin McGowan as his top five to earn a spot.
Farrell was quick to add that that doesn’t rule out pitcher like Drabek and Aaron Laffey from being able to make the grade should they have a strong camp, along with Drew Hutchison, Chad Jenkins and Deck McGuire.
“Those guys are going to get their ample opportunity to make an impression,” Farrell said.
Drabek said that last season was one he’d sooner forget.
“It was a little tough for me because I’ve never really gone through a year like that,” he said. “But it could be a blessing in disguise that it happened. I certainly learned from it so that was a good thing.”
Drabek said he spent much of the off-season working on his pitching mechanics that he blamed for much of his struggles in 2011.
“I really couldn’t get that comfortable position in my windup where I could be smooth but also repeat it all the time,” he said. “Where I’m at right now is a lot better than I was last year.
“We’re just working really on repeating it and just a few little things here and there, the way the ball is coming out, the location it’s going. I’m happy with it.”
It remains to be seen if the Blue Jays feel the same way.