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Biagini tabbed for first game of Spring Training

Big right-hander is working on mechanics, remains vital as rotation insurance
MLB.com @gregorMLB

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays will officially open their Grapefruit League season on Friday afternoon, when right-hander Joe Biagini takes the mound against Philadelphia.

Biagini will spend most of Spring Training working as a starter, but he's not currently in the mix for a spot in the rotation. Barring injuries, Toronto is expected to open the year with Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada and Jaime Garcia as its starting five.

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays will officially open their Grapefruit League season on Friday afternoon, when right-hander Joe Biagini takes the mound against Philadelphia.

Biagini will spend most of Spring Training working as a starter, but he's not currently in the mix for a spot in the rotation. Barring injuries, Toronto is expected to open the year with Marcus Stroman, J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada and Jaime Garcia as its starting five.

Blue Jays Spring Training: Info | Tickets | Schedule

The 27-year-old Biagini will either start the season in the bullpen, or instead be sent to Triple-A Buffalo to continue his development as a starter. Toronto's top priority for Biagini is to make him more comfortable pitching out of the windup, and also to focus on speeding up his tempo, which was an issue last year.

"He tried to simplify some things," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He just tried to speed himself up a bit, because he has always been very deliberate. You don't notice it as much as a reliever where he goes an inning or two, but as a starter we think that will help him, because he's trying to develop a rhythm in his delivery.

"He's a big guy so nothing really comes easy that way. That's all we're looking for. As far as a pitch, no. Just go out and throw your pitches like you would in the first game of Spring Training."

Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff will take the mound for Philadelphia in Game 1 of the spring schedule. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET at Dunedin Stadium, and audio for the game can be found via MLB.TV.

The plan for Travis
Second baseman Devon Travis is expected to make his spring debut on Sunday afternoon against the Tigers. Travis will sit out Toronto's first two games of the spring, and then the tentative plan would see him playing games every other day until the latter stages of camp.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Travis is currently working his way back from last year's right knee surgery. He began running a couple of weeks before Spring Training and has been a full participant in fielding drills thus far in camp. He also ran the bases on Wednesday morning, and appears slightly ahead of schedule in his rehab.

"He has looked great all spring," Gibbons said. "If you didn't know he had an injury in the past, you could never tell right now. We're watching him pretty close. He won't play until the third game down here, and then we'll just kind of monitor him. He might be an every-other-day guy for a while. Then we'll try to ramp him up, and hopefully he stays healthy."

Photo Day fun
Troy Tulowitzki had a bit of fun with an unsuspecting photographer during Toronto's photo day at Dunedin Stadium. The Blue Jays starting shortstop managed to convince one member of the media that he was actually a pitcher.

All of the Blue Jays players were put through a gauntlet of media stations to take photos and videos that will be used for everything from baseball cards to promos. Hitters typically held their bat and went into a stance, but when it came to Tulowitzki he instead grabbed his glove and went through a pitching motion.

Tweet from @DaniWex: When Tulo uses photo day to perfect his pitching form 👀👀 #bluejays pic.twitter.com/3XRQ4sSY1z

It might seem like a joke, but the Blue Jays should probably hope Tulowitzki doesn't have to take the mound anytime soon. Infielders Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins each made an appearance as a pitcher for the Blue Jays over the last couple of years.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

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