After being promoted to Toronto from Las Vegas early last season, left-hander Brett Cecil led the Blue Jays in wins and dominated the American League East.
But with his velocity and confidence waning this year after his first four starts for Toronto, Cecil, 24, was demoted to the 51s.
"It just shows you how quickly things can turn around from one year to the next," said Cecil, who is 1-2 with a 6.86 ERA this season for the Blue Jays after going 15-7 with a 4.22 ERA last year -- and 11-2 with a 3.47 ERA against the AL East.
"Given the year I had last year, it's kind of a tough thing to swallow. But I was just beating myself up up there," said Cecil, who started for Las Vegas in Monday's 9-4 win over Round Rock at Cashman Field. "My confidence was probably at an all-time low."
The 2007 first-round draft pick struggled to keep the ball down in Toronto and his velocity dipped to 87-88 mph.
"When you're throwing that speed, it's tough to get outs when you're up in the zone," he said. "Last year, my velocity was 91 to 93 and, for the most part, the ball was down.
"To have the velocity I had up there (this year), it wasn't good enough to put it by anybody."
Cecil, who allowed three runs on six hits in six innings Monday, with five strikeouts and one walk, topped out at 91 mph on the radar gun at Cashman Field.
"My arm strength has definitely improved," said Cecil, who credits a swimming and long-toss regimen. "My last three starts, I've been 88, 89, 92, so it's creeping its way back up."
After getting roughed up in his first start for the 51s (21-18) at Colorado Springs, Cecil (4-1) has won his last four outings, allowing 10 earned runs on 25 hits in 25 2/3 innings, with 21 strikeouts and seven walks.
He gave up 10 earned runs on 13 hits (including three home runs) and three walks in 4 1/3 innings to the Sky Sox in the high altitude of Security Service Field.
"That's a horrible place to pitch for anybody. The ball just flies out of there," he said. "That's kind of why I didn't really pay attention to that start. It's a fluke, as far as I'm concerned."
Since that forgettable outing, the 6-foot-1-inch, 235-pound Cecil has been steady.
"Right now I'm right where I want to be," he said. "The ball's down, my velocity's where it should be, and hopefully it keeps climbing so I can be consistently in the low 90s again."
Cecil, who is 23-13 overall for Toronto with a 4.77 ERA, said he has regained his confidence with the 51s and is ready to return to the majors.
"Guys want to win down here, but the games aren't as important," he said. "I get a chance to come down here, relax a little bit and get my stuff back together, and that's what I've done."
n NOTES -- Toronto placed first baseman Adam Lind on the disabled list with a sore back and purchased the contract of 51s outfielder Eric Thames, batting .342 with a team-leading 30 RBIs. The Blue Jays also optioned first baseman David Cooper to Las Vegas and released 51s pitcher Chad Cordero. Las Vegas activated reliever Josh Roenicke from the disabled list.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-383-0354.