ST. PETERSBURG, FL - Toronto right-hander Drew Hutchison makes his first big- league appearance since June 2012 on Tuesday night when the Blue Jays visit the Tampa Bay Rays for the second test of a four-game season-opening series at Tropicana Field.
A native of nearby Lakeland, Fla., Hutchison was 5-3 in 11 appearances with the Blue Jays two seasons ago before an elbow injury shelved him for the remainder of the schedule and ultimately prompted ligament-replacement surgery that scrapped his entire 2013 season on the major-league level.
He made 10 appearances across three minor-league levels in the Blue Jays organization last year and was 0-4 with a 4.81 earned run average in 35 1/3 innings, then was 1-1 in four spring-training starts this year while posting a 1.50 ERA across 15 innings.
In one career meeting against the Rays, Hutchison was tagged for seven hits and six runs in four innings of an 8-5 loss at Tropicana Field on May 22, 2012.
"I just think he looks stronger, his body's filled out even more," Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker said. "I think he's coming into his own. He's more mature. I just can't get over how he carries himself. He's actually a young leader on this team."
The Rays will oppose him with right-hander Alex Cobb, who's won 11 games in each of his first two big-league seasons.
The Boston native was a fourth-round pick of the Rays in the 2006 draft and initially reached the majors at the tail end of 2011, when he made nine starts and won three games while posting a 3.42 ERA.
He went 11-9 in 23 starts in 2012 and 11-3 in 22 outings last season, while holding batters to averages of .254 and .228, respectively.
Cobb is 2-0 with a 1.35 ERA in two career starts against the Blue Jays, who've managed eight hits and struck out nine times in 13 1/3 innings.
On Monday, in a matchup of the 2012 Cy Young winners, David Price outdueled R.A. Dickey and the Rays took down the Blue Jays, 9-2.
Price (1-0) threw seven scoreless innings before giving up a two-run homer to Erik Kratz in the top of the eighth. The 2012 AL Cy Young winner finished with six strikeouts, allowing six hits and one walk in 7 1/3 innings.
Reigning AL Rookie of the Year Wil Myers went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBI in his first Opening Day start for Tampa Bay. Matt Joyce drove in three runs while going 2-for-2 with a double and Evan Longoria and James Loney picked up an RBI apiece.
The 2012 NL Cy Young winner, Dickey (0-1) lasted five innings, getting knocked around for six runs and five hits while walking six and fanning four.
Kratz was the lone bright spot for Toronto, smacking a two-run homer on the first and only pitch he saw.
Tampa won 11 of its 19 matchups with the Blue Jays last season. In fact, Toronto hasn't won a series at Tropicana Field since April 6-8, 2007, with Tampa Bay going 19-0-1 in series play since then.
The Rays' 148 wins over the Jays and their 84 wins at Tropicana Field are their most against any opponent.