DUNEDIN, FLA. — Brad Mills had two major-league starts in 2009. The next major league chance he gets he hopes that the real Brad Mills will show up.
He is a lefthanded strike thrower who started to nibble in the big leagues. In his two major league starts—both against the Phillies in June—he walked six in 8 innings going 0-1, 14.09.
"It was a combination of things," the 25-year-old said. "Obviously being my first time I felt like, not a little timid, but maybe just a little out of my game.
"I look back and feel I didn't throw as many fastballs as I would have liked to, didn't throw my game. You didn't see the Brad Mills who'd gone through the minor leagues up there….just a lack of execution."
He did have seven strikeouts against two walks in his second start, but gave up eight earned runs.
"Even the second game I felt better about my stuff and what I put out there even though I gave up more runs," he said. "It was just one of those days where the ball was up and they hit me. That first game, even though I kind of nibbled around, I just didn't feel like the same pitcher I've been the last two or three years."
After being optioned back to Triple-A Las Vegas, he was sidelined with what was at first diagnosed as a rib fracture that turned out to be a strain. His final Triple-A totals were 2-8, 4.06 over 14 starts.
Mills, a 2007 fourth-rounder out of Arizona, made a rapid rise through the system in 2008 going from low Class A Lansing, to high Class A Dunedin to Double-A New Hampshire while going 13-5, 1.95, with 159 strikeouts.
Mills was pleased with his off-season program and during spring training Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said Mills looked like a different pitcher from the one who started for him last June.
Perhaps it was just the real Brad Mills.
• Lefthander David Purcey, a first-round pick in 2004, was being used as a reliever in spring training. All 21 of his major-league appearances have been as a starter and 113 of his 114 minor-league outings were starts.
• The Blue Jays signed righthander Nick Purdy as a non-drafted free agent out of Hillsborough (Fla.) CC. Purdy has Canadian roots, as he attended St. Mary's SS in Ontario, and was drafted twice—by the Mariners in 2007 and Royals in 2008.