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Redmond hopes to start, will do what Blue Jays need

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LONDON, Ontario -- Standing on a mound in front of thousands of people with all eyes on him and awaiting every pitch, Todd Redmond is right at home.

Sitting on stage in front of a gymnasium full of young fans, holding a microphone for the sole purpose of answering questions, that's another story.

The 28-year-old Toronto Blue Jays right-hander is a bulldog on the mound, unfazed at any level. He's always been an unemotional workhorse when it comes to his pitching.

"I've grown up that way," Redmond said. "I'm bull-nosed, stubborn, hard-headed. Growing up, my mom and dad would always say that I was hard-headed and wouldn't back down from anything. I won't back down from a fight.

"There's nothing I would back down from. I won't back down from anybody. I guess that's just the way my mentality is, and that's what I take into pitching."

But on Friday, during the second leg of the Blue Jays Winter tour, Redmond felt uneasy. Before spending the evening at the London Knights game with Brandon Morrow, Dustin McGowan, Esmil Rogers and Colby Rasmus, Toronto's players and staff stopped by Sir Isaac Brock Public School to answer questions from students in the afternoon.

"They asked about nerves today, and I said my debut, but I wouldn't say I was even nervous," Redmond said. "It was more adrenaline on my Major League debut than anything. After that, it's just been any other game. I don't get nervous.

"I get more nervous talking to the kids on the microphone. I hate talking in front of people. I'll stumble over words before I'll go out on the mound and have butterflies."

The Tampa, Fla., native will take his competitive mound mentality into Spring Training this year hoping to earn a spot in the rotation. He made a good case for himself last season as a rookie, going 4-3 with a 4.32 ERA in 14 starts and 77 innings, walking just 23 and striking out 76 over that span.

"I'm just going to take everything in stride," Redmond said. "If they want me in the rotation or if I win the spot for the rotation, great. And if they want me in the bullpen, great. Wherever they want me to pitch, I will pitch. Obviously I would like to be in the rotation, and I would like to win that spot, but I know I can only control what I do, and not what their choice is."

Hoping for a full and successful sophomore season, Redmond is looking to make the choice to keep him on the big league roster an easy one this spring. After exceeding expectations in 2013, he is looking forward to having the bar raised.

"I'm just taking it day by day," Redmond said. "Hopefully I'm not a fill-in guy this coming year. I don't want to be. I want to be a permanent guy. But besides that, I'm just taking it into Spring Training with a positive note."

Finishing the season as a regular in a Major League rotation definitely left Redmond on a high, but the best part for the righty was just getting the chance to finally prove to other people what he always knew he was capable of.

"It felt good, because I knew I could pitch in the big leagues," Redmond said. "I just needed the opportunity in more than one game to show that I could actually do it. But it was very needed for me to prove to everybody that I could do it."

Though he has spent his entire career as a starter, Redmond is confident that if the spot for him happens to be in the bullpen coming out of Spring Training, he could do that, too. He might miss hanging out in the dugout with last season's newfound friends, but he knows he has some in the 'pen as well.

"The bullpen is like the starting rotation," Redmond said. "The four guys who aren't pitching that day are in the dugout together hanging out. Me and [Mark] Buehrle hit it off last year, and we hung out every day, outside and inside the locker room. I was down in the bullpen at the start there for a little bit before I started my rotation part of it. It doesn't really affect me either way. The guys are all awesome."

Though Redmond and Buehrle spent a whole lot more time talking about hunting than pitching, it couldn't hurt if the young hurler picked up a few things from the four-time All-Star and Gold Glove Award winner.

"We just hit it off because he likes to hunt; I like to hunt, and we just started talking," Redmond said. "I lived with him for the time I was up there. We just kind of hit it off, became friends, and hung out nonstop…

"I hope my career turns out like [Buehrle's]. That would be unbelievable."

Alexis Brudnicki is a contributor to

Toronto Blue Jays, Todd Redmond