April 2007

No Hard Feelings

TORONTO — That was Gregg Zaun’s message to Boston’s Eric Hinske, who was teammates with Toronto’s catcher on the Blue Jays from 2004-2006. Last Tuesday, Hinske fouled off a pitch that broke Zaun’s right hand during a game on the road against the Red Sox. Zaun made sure to call Hinske after the fluke incident.

"I knew he was really concerned," Zaun said on Monday. "My wife and his wife were text-messaging back and forth and I knew he felt bad. Eric and I are very close still and I felt bad for him, because I knew he’d feel bad about it. I just let him know that it’s part of my position and these things happen."

Zaun had his right thumb broken during the first inning of that game — a 10-3 win over Boston. Toronto’s catcher remained in the game for the rest of the first and even had an at-bat in the second inning, when he grounded out to short. During that trip to the plate, Zaun could only grip the bat with four fingers because he had lost all strength with his right thumb.

"I just pretty much didn’t want to admit that it was pretty bad," Zaun said. "But I knew something was fairly wrong when I took pushed on my thumb on the spot and it made crunching noises. I knew that that wasn’t real good.

"Then I went up and I tried to hit. I was kind of hoping and praying that it wasn’t broken — that it was just really badly bruised and that it was going to be swollen and sore for a few days. But I couldn’t hold on to the bat."

Zaun tried to take his place behind the plate during the second inning, but after catching one warm-up pitch from Roy Halladay, the catcher wasn’t able to throw the ball back to the mound. It sailed over Halladay’s head and Zaun removed himself from the game.

On Wednesday, Zaun visited a hand specialist in Baltimore (Dr. Thomas Graham) and then underwent surgery to repair his hand on Thursday. He had two screws inserted into his thumb during the operation. On Tuesday, he’s scheduled to have his cast removed, and he’ll begin wearing a removable splint.

"There was a small glimmer of hope that it wasn’t going to require surgery," Zaun said. "But when they started talking about the fracture being displaced, and if they let it heal that way it could cause problems down the line with arthritis and sheering off the cartilage in the joint and things like that, it was an easy decision."

Zaun is hoping to return to the Blue Jays six weeks post-surgery, which would be around the second week in June. He figures that it’ll take a month for him to return to baseball activities and then another two weeks or so to get back to full strength. Toronto manager John Gibbons said Zaun is a hard worker and might be able to return that quickly, but the team will make sure he’s good and ready before activating him from the DL. That could mean six weeks is a very optimistic proposition.

Game #25: Rangers at Blue Jays pregame

Texas (10-14) at Toronto (12-12)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

RANGERS
Kenny Lofton, CF
Michael Young, SS
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Sammy Sosa, DH
Hank Blalock, 3B
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Brad Wilkerson, LF
Nelson Cruz, RF
Gerald Laird, C

PITCHING: RHP Vicente Padilla

BLUE JAYS
Adam Lind, LF
Alex Rios, RF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Frank Thomas, DH
Troy Glaus, 3B
Matt Stairs, RF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Jason Phillips, C
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay

NOTES: CF Vernon Wells was a late scratch from Monday’s lineup due to flu-like symptoms. … Toronto manager John Gibbons said he’s been playing McDonald more at short lately because of his recent hot streak at the plate. Entering Monday, Johnny Mac was riding a 10-game hitting streak and was batting .447. … Gibbons added that Glaus has had no complaints so far about his left heel since coming off the DL on Saturday. … Toronto Minor League Matt Roney was suspended 50 games by MLB for using a "drug of abuse." Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi said the team would look into additional discipline for the pitcher, who nearly was called up to Toronto’s bullpen earlier this month. … Texas LF (and former Blue Jays outfielder) Frank Catalanotto has an injured right shoulder and could land on the DL. … Toronto C Gregg Zaun spoke with reporters on Monday about his broken right hand, and he indicated that he hopes to return in six weeks. Zaun will have a cast removed from his hand on Tuesday and will begin working with a hand therapist. … Ricciardi said that if RHP Brandon League doesn’t show much more progress in his rehab down in Florida, the team may have to look into surgery on the pitcher’s right shoulder.

UPDATE: During the game, the Blue Jays placed LHP Gustavo Chacin on the 15-day DL with a sore left shoulder. Toronto hasn’t announced who will start on Thursday against Cleveland, but Gibbons indicated that it would be someone from Triple-A. It’s very likely that someone is RHP Dustin McGowan, who is 0-2 with a 1.64 ERA in five starts for the Chiefs. He has 29 strikeouts versus nine walks and has given up 16 hits in 22 innings.

Game #24: Rangers at Blue Jays pregame

Texas (10-13) at Toronto (11-12)
at 1:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

RANGERS
Kenny Lofton, CF
Michael Young, DH
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Sammy Sosa, RF
Hank Blalock, 3B
Frank Catalanotto, LF
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Matt Kata, SS
Gerald Laird, C

PITCHING: RHP Brandon McCarthy

BLUE JAYS
Adam Lind, LF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Troy Glaus, 3B
Matt Stairs, RF
Aaron Hill, 2B
John McDonald, SS
Jason Phillips, C

PITCHING: RHP Tomo Ohka

NOTES: RF Alex Rios was given the day off, so manager John Gibbons simply moved the Nos. 2-6 hitters up one spot in the lineup. … Relievers Jason Frasor, Brian Tallet and Casey Janssen weren’t available out of the bullpen on Sunday. … RHP Victor Zambrano was available in relief, and if he was needed for a few innings, Toronto may have to reevaluate who starts on Wednesday. As of right now, it’s still slated to be Zambrano.

Game #23: Rangers at Blue Jays pregame

Texas (9-13) at Toronto (11-11)
at 1:05 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

RANGERS
Jeryy Hairston, CF
Michael Young, SS
Mark Teixeira, DH
Sammy Sosa, RF
Hank Blalock, 3B
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Nelson Cruz, LF
Brad Wilkerson, 1B
Gerald Laird, C

PITCHING: RHP Kevin Millwood

BLUE JAYS
Alex Rios, RF
Adam Lind, LF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Troy Glaus, 3B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Royce Clayton, SS
Sal Fasano, C

PITCHING: LHP Gustavo Chacin

NOTES: Toronto named RHP Victor Zambrano its new No. 5 starter and moved RHP Josh Towers into the bullpen as a long reliever. Zambrano is slated to start on Wednesday in Cleveland. … The Jays also activated Glaus from the 15-day DL and optioned INF Ryan Roberts back to Triple-A Syracuse.

Game #22: Rangers at Blue Jays pregame

Texas (8-13) at Toronto (11-10)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

Today’s lineups:

RANGERS
Kenny Lofton, CF
Michael Young, SS
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Sammy Sosa, DH
Hank Blalock, 3B
Frank Catalanotto, LF
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Brad Wilkerson, RF
Chris Stewart, C

PITCHING: RHP Robinson Tejeda

BLUE JAYS
Alex Rios, RF
Adam Lind, LF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Jason Smith, 3B
Royce Clayton, SS
Jason Phillips, C

PITCHING: RHP Josh Towers

NOTES: 3B Troy Glaus (sore left heel) took part in batting practice, infield drills and ran in the outfield prior to Friday night’s game. Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi said Glaus was "day to day — literally" and it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that the slugger could come off the DL on Saturday. Glaus looked much better on Friday than he did during pregame activities on Thursday.

Leftovers from the road

While holding court with the press Wednesday afternoon inside the visitor’s clubhouse at Yankee Stadium, Ricciardi was asked if this year was the worst it’s been injury-wise for the GM since taking the helm for the Jays.

After starting to nod his head, running the list of walking wounded through his head (B.J. Ryan, Reed Johnson, Troy Glaus, Gregg Zaun, Brandon League, John Thomson, Davis Romero), Ricciardi aborted a "Yes" answer and cited the 2004 season.

"Now that I’m thinking about it, the year we only won 67 games was pretty horrible," Ricciardi said. "Every time the phone rang, I wanted to run the other way. I mean, we had won 86 games the year before and at the very least we expected to be over .500."

Through June that year, consider the sheer number of players who landed on the DL for Toronto: Carlos Delgado, Vernon Wells, Roy Halladay, Frank Catalanotto, Justin Speier, Orlando Hudson, Chris Woodward, Greg Myers, Kevin Cash, Justin Miller, Kerry Lightenberg, Bobby Estalella, and Valerio De Los Santos.

"I remember listening on the radio one night," Ricciardi continued. "We were playing San Diego and [broadcaster] Jerry Coleman was saying, ‘Now batting, Howie Clark and on deck, Frank Menechino. Who the **** are these guys?’"

This season, Ricciardi at least has a little more depth to work with. Adam Lind has been a sound replacement in left field, Toronto could do a whole lot worse than Jason Frasor as its closer, and John McDonald and Jason Smith have done a solid job holding down the fort at third base. Sal Fasano hasn’t played yet, but that’s another veteran to step in now that Zaun is out.

"We have some positional depth that we didn’t have before," Ricciardi said. "We’ve got some pitchers in place who can step in if need be, too. The one important thing is not to lose the guy who was on the mound [Wednesday] night."

That’d be Mr. Halladay, who is 3-0 with a 2.58 so far this season.

BEEN THERE, SEEN THAT: Jays manager John Gibbons wasn’t at all surprised to see all the hype surrounding the big-league debut of Yankees rookie Phil Hughes. After all, Gibbons can recall first hand what the atmosphere was like when Dwight "Doc" Gooden was breaking in with the Mets in 1984.

"As far as the hype, New York can do that for you," Gibbons said. "You could see how good [Gooden] was. It was just whether or not he could handle that hype. He was a rare guy, too. Those guys don’t come around too often. This kid might be one."

That "kid" being Hughes, who was touched up for four runs in 4 1/3 innings by the Jays Thursday night. It wasn’t all icing on the cake when Gooden started off, either.

On April 13, 1984, Gibbons was behind the plate for the Mets at Wrigley Field for Gooden’s second-ever start. The starter’s line that evening? 3 1/3 innings, 6 runs, 7 hits, 4 strikeouts and three walks. Gooden finished ’84 with a 17-9 record and a 2.60 ERA. So, Hughes might be alright after all.

Game #21: Blue Jays at Yankees

Toronto (10-10) at New York (8-11)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Alex Rios, RF
Adam Lind, LF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Jason Smith, 3B
Jason Phillips, C
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP A.J. Burnett

YANKEES
Johnny Damon, CF
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1B
Bobby Abreu, RF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Jason Giambi, DH
Hideki Matsui, LF
Jorge Posada, C
Robinson Cano, 2B
Miguel Cairo, SS

PITCHING: RHP Phil Hughes

NOTES: C Gregg Zaun underwent hand surgery on Thursday and manager John Gibbons said everything went well. Gibbons said Zaun will rejoin the Blue Jays in Toronto on Friday. … 3B Troy Glaus took batting practice at Yankee Stadium on Thursday and appears to be on schedule to come off the 15-day DL on Saturday. … SS Derek Jeter was a late scratch from the Yankees’ lineup.

UPDATE: After Thursday night’s game, Toronto GM J.P. Ricciardi said 3B Troy Glaus wasn’t likely to be activated from the DL this weekend against Texas. It’s possible that he’ll come off the DL at some point on the Jays’ upcoming road trip through Cleveland and Texas.

Zaun leaves with injury, will land on DL

Jays catcher Gregg Zaun left Tuesday night’s game prior to the second inning. Zaun caught one warm-up pitch from Roy Halladay and then tossed the ball back toward the mound. The baseball sailed into center field and Zaun pulled himself out of the game. He was replaced by Jason Phillips.

In the first inning, Zaun appeared to have hurt his right hand after being struck by a foul ball by Eric Hinske. Toronto head trainer George Poulis visted with the catcher on the field, but Zaun stayed in the game at the time.

UPDATE: After the game, the Jays said that Zaun would be placed on the disabled list on Wednesday. First, he’s going to visit a hand specialist in Baltimore to determine the extent of the injury. If it’s going to keep him out for an extended period of time, Toronto will likely place him on the 60-day DL, which will clear room on the 40-man roster for catcher Sal Fasano. If the injury isnt too serious and Zaun goes on the 15-day DL, an additional roster move will be required to add Fasano. Either way, Fasano is up and Zaun is down (with injury). Zaun injured his right hand, near his thumb. Toronto gave him a flourascope scan, which wasn’t clear as to whether or not he broke anything in his hand.

Game #20: Blue Jays at Red Sox pregame

Toronto (9-10) at Boston (12-6)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Fenway Park

Today’s lineups:

BLUE JAYS
Alex Rios, RF
Adam Lind, LF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Gregg Zaun, C
Royce Clayton, SS
John McDonald, 3B

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay

RED SOX
Julio Lugo, SS
Eric Hinske, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Manny Ramirez, LF
J.D. Drew, RF
Mike Lowell, 3B
Jason Varitek, C
Wily Mo Pena, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B

PITCHING: RHP Julian Tavarez

Ryan moved to the 60-day DL

This move was more paperwork than anything else, for those of you wondering why on Earth the Jays would transfer closer B.J. Ryan to the 60-day disabled list. Ryan wasn’t going to throw for a month as it was, and even though the team said he’d be out "four to six" weeks initially, it was always closer to six weeks, possibly longer.

So, in a completely best-case scenario, Ryan might’ve been back in late May — that was the original feedback from Dr. James Andrews. In reality, though, Toronto wasn’t going to rush Ryan back by any means, considering he’s the ace of the club’s bullpen. So mid June probably was when he was going to return as it was. That being the case, now that he’s on the 60, he’ll be eligible to return on June 15.

Keep in mind that the Jays had similar injuries to pitchers A.J. Burnett and Gustavo Chacin last season. In both cases, the pitchers came back quickly, only to land back on the DL. Toronto is going to want to avoid that same scenario at all costs with Ryan. The move also opened a spot on the roster to add lefty Brian Tallet, giving the Jays two lefties in the ‘pen again.

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