TORONTO -- Melky Cabrera continues to impress, but not surprise. Toronto's No. 2 hitter has shot out to a hot start a year after his production was severely hampered by a benign tumor near his spine.
Cabrera had hits in all but one of his 21 games entering Thursday night's contest against the Orioles. The 29-year-old outfielder led the American League in hits with 34 and total bases with 57. Mixed with his .355 batting average for the month, Cabrera's numbers are a huge improvement over his April statistics last season, when he posted a .241 average with 26 hits.
Manager John Gibbons said Cabrera was performing at the level the team expected he would when they acquired him in 2013.
"The doctor gave us the indication that once you get that tumor out of there, it's going to be fine," Gibbons said. "I've always seen him as a good hitter."
Even though Cabrera is producing at a higher rate so far, the Blue Jays have not noticed a change in the way he goes about his business, even when he was dealing with his unfortunate health problems last season.
"He's like this good, bad or ugly," Gibbons said. "He has fun playing, and he never gets down on himself. You never see him down in the dumps. You can't tell if he's in a hitting streak or on a long [hitless] streak."
Blue Jays could use six-man rotation in May
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays will consider going with six starters in the month of May to give the arms in their rotation an extra day of rest, manager John Gibbons said prior to Thursday night's game against the Orioles.
The organization has had the luxury of four straight Mondays off in April, but with the end of the month comes a stretch of 20 straight games, from April 29 to May 18. One way around overworking the arms of pitchers like Dustin McGowan, Brandon Morrow and Drew Hutchison would be to have J.A. Happ make a spot start, Gibbons said.
McGowan has not made more than four starts in a season since 2008, Hutchison spent last year recovering from Tommy John surgery and Morrow made just 10 starts in 2013, making the risk of a burnout over a long stretch a potential concern.
"Maybe Happ, or something," Gibbons said. "We've talked about doing that; whether it happens or not I don't know. We could do it against Philadelphia. That way it bumps everyone back a day for the sake of the others guys. We haven't committed to it yet, but we've talked about it."
Gibbons indicated that using Happ as a spot starter made the most sense. The 31-year-old lefty was a starter in the team's rotation last season but began the year on the 15-day disabled list with a sore back and was moved to the bullpen upon return. Gibbons said Happ's ability to throw a high pitch count made using him less of a concern, despite the fact that he has not started a game since a Minor League outing in early April.
"Happ's strong," Gibbons said. "He's a big, strong dude. The number of pitches is not a big deal to him."
It is unclear how many spot starts the Blue Jays would use if they were to go that route.
Battling fatigue, McGowan to make next start
TORONTO -- Dustin McGowan will make his next scheduled start, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons confirmed Thursday. There was some doubt about the right-hander's role following his four-inning no-decision against Baltimore on Wednesday night.
McGowan, who allowed six runs on five hits, acknowledged after the game that he experienced fatigue around the 60-pitch mark, a less-than-ideal revelation for the Blue Jays, whose starting rotation has largely struggled to pitch deep into games this year. But despite that, McGowan (1-1, 6.88 ERA) on Tuesday against the Royals will get at least one more start.
"He'll make his next start, and we'll see what happens," Gibbons said prior to his club's home game against Baltimore on Thursday. "You guys want honesty, and he gave it to you."
The Blue Jays have been patient in bringing McGowan along so far this season. The 32-year-old had an abbreviated Spring Training, and he has not thrown 100 innings in a season since 2008. He was a surprise addition to the team's starting rotation following Grapefruit League play. Wednesday night was the first time McGowan acknowledged feeling fatigue so early in a start. Considering he has had three major shoulder surgeries over the course of his career, the Blue Jays could be concerned about his health going forward.
"We all get fatigued soon or later," Gibbons said. "Does it bother me? Yeah, a little bit, no question.
"We've always told him that if something is wrong or doesn't feel right, to let us know," Gibbons added. "And he's guaranteed us he would. With last night he was just being brutally honest, and I kind of like that."
Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.