Kyle Drabek may not have an innings limit this season

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In an interview with FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi earlier this week, new Blue Jays manager John Farrell didn’t dismiss the possibility that Kyle Drabek could eclipse 200 innings in his rookie season.

“You can look at the (innings) progression he’s already gone through to this point,” Farrell said of Drabek, whose father, Doug, is the former Cy Young Award winner. “What it’ll come down to now is his efficiency in games. When you look at the competitive nature of the person, and you know that the talent and personal side align, this is a very exciting and bright young prospect.

“You’re talking about someone who loves to compete and doesn’t back away from challenges. That’s his wiring and his makeup.”

Drabek, who was the centerpiece in the Roy Halladay trade, made his major league debut last September after compiling a 2.94 ERA over 162 innings with Double-A New Hampshire. He threw an additional 17 innings with the Blue Jays down the stretch, posting a 4.76 ERA and 12/5 K/BB ratio over three starts. Drabek, who underwent Tommy John surgery in 2007, tossed 158 innings in 2009 and 179 innings last season, so 200 innings isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Of course, none of this talk will matter if Drabek struggles to adjust at the big league level. While the 23-year-old right-hander was recently ranked as the organization’s No. 1 prospect by Baseball America, his command has been shaky at times in the minors. He’ll also be pitching in what could be the toughest division in baseball, so there will likely be some bumps in the road.

Farrell has called Ricky Romero, Brett Cecil and Brandon Morrow the only locks for his starting rotation, but Drabek will likely beat out Jesse Litsch, Scott Richmond, Marc Rzepczynski and Jo-Jo Reyes for one of the final two spots during spring training.

Jim Hickey steps down as Cubs’ pitching coach

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The Cubs announced on Tuesday that Jim Hickey has stepped down as the pitching coach due to personal reasons. The club will begin a search for a replacement.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said in a statement, “Jim Hickey notified us yesterday of his decision to step down as pitching coach and leave the organization for personal reasons. We thank Jim for his season with the Cubs and his positive impact on our pitchers. Jim has our full support and we all wish him well.”

Hickey, 57, spent over a decade as a coach in the Rays organization before joining the Cubs for the past season, reuniting with Joe Maddon. The Cubs’ starting staff ranked 10th among all 30 teams with a 3.84 ERA and the bullpen posted an NL-best 3.35 ERA.