Hutchison ready for regular season after strong outing

Right-hander allows one run over five innings in rain-shortened win

Hutchison ready for regular season after strong outing

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Drew Hutchison made his final full outing of the spring on Friday afternoon and pronounced himself ready for the regular season.

Toronto's right-hander technically has one more start remaining, but the Blue Jays are expected to limit him to either two or three innings. It will be an abbreviated appearance that is designed to keep him sharp without exerting too much energy.

The Blue Jays likely will be taking a similar approach with all of their starters. R.A. Dickey will be doing the same thing in his next outing, as the spring work is basically complete and it's time for the real games to begin.

Hutchison's heads-up play

"It was just mentioned to me quickly by Pete today, so we'll see in the coming days," Hutchison said of pitching coach Pete Walker. "I think that's the plan, just to go out there, get a little bit of a touch and feel from there and go from there.

"A lot of times between starts I'll just throw a touch and feel kind of bullpen. I guess it can be a little comparable to do that, just getting out there into a game situation and be strong going into the season."

Hutchison's final outing came in a rain-shortened victory over the Tigers. Despite the poor conditions, the third-year pitcher was able to toss five innings before the game had to be called because of the weather. He was scheduled to go another inning but the game lasted just long enough to get most of his work in.

The 24-year-old officially tossed 15 innings this spring and allowed three runs on 10 hits and four walks with 11 strikeouts. He also recently threw seven strong innings during a Minor League start against the Yankees and feels good about his current level of stamina.

Overall, the Blue Jays starting five of Hutchison, Dickey, Daniel Norris, Mark Buehrle and Aaron Sanchez have all enjoyed strong springs. Pitching has been an early strength and while that technically doesn't mean anything at this time of the year it's at least encouraging as Opening Day approaches.

"It is what it is -- but I think the low number of walks, I think that's something that is extremely important, whether it's spring training or the regular season, to go out there and pound the zone," Hutchison said. "It's obviously something that is very important, so try and translate that into the regular season."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.