April 2008

Purcey up, Wolfe DL'd

TORONTO — Some minor movement today after last night’s 14-inning marathon. Right-hander Brian Wolfe was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right triceps strain and lefty David Purcey was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse.

Unless he needs to pitch tonight for some reason, Purcey is scheduled to start and make his big-league debut on Friday against the Tigers. A.J. Burnett, who pitched in relief in the 14th inning on Wednesday, is now slated to start Sunday and Shaun Marcum and Jesse Litsch are moved back to Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

Toronto manager John Gibbons made it clear that, regardless of how he pitches, Purcey is only with the Jays for one start. So don’t expect him to replace Litsch as Toronto’s fifth or anything. After he makes his appearance, the Jays will need to add another right-handed reliever to replace Wolfe — perhaps Brandon League will be back.

Today’s lineups:

TEXAS (6-9) at TORONTO (8-7)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

RANGERS
Ian Kinsler, 2B
Frank Catalanotto, LF
Josh Hamilton, CF
Milton Bradley, DH
Jason Botts, 1B
David Murphy, RF
Gerald Laird, C
Ramon Vazquez, SS
German Duran, 3B

PITCHING: RHP Vicente Padilla

BLUE JAYS
David Eckstein, SS
Aaron Hills, 2B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Matt Stairs, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Gregg Zaun, C
Joe Inglett, 3B

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay

I'll sleep when I'm dead

TORONTO – Got to Baltimore’s airport at 5 a.m. this morn to catch my 6 a.m. flight, which was cancelled because of a dented door on the plane. It’s always something with me, huh? Caught some shuteye on the floor at the airport and eventually made it on to a flight that got me to Toronto by Noonish.

After a quick power nap at home to try and shake this nasty cold I’m fighting, I sucked it up and headed over to the ball yard. Once, just once, I would like a completely smooth day of travelling with no horror stories to pass along. But I’m here and I’m living, ready to cover the Blue Birds game against the Rangers.

Jays skip John Gibbons tinkered with the lineup today, giving Shannon Stewart the night off to rest a sore groin — apparently tweaked when he threw out Baltimore’s Jay Payton at the plate in the eighth inning on Monday. If absolutely necessary, Gibbons said Stewart was available to come off the bench.

Aaron Hill was back in the lineup one day after taking a pitch off his left elbow, but Gibbons said the second baseman was fine. No X-rays were needed, but Hill exited Tuesday’s blowout a little early to get some treatment. Gibbons also noted that closer B.J. Ryan, if he didn’t pitch tonight, would probably need to get into tomorrow’s game to get some work.

The Jays are trying to juggle the throwing schedule for Ryan until he’s able to pitch on consecutive days. For now, Gibbons said he doesn’t want Ryan to go without work for more than three days and the closer can do light bullpen sessions to keep fresh if he’s not getting into save situations.

There’s no timetable as to when Ryan will be able to pitch in back-to-back games, but GM J.P. Ricciardi said he’d like to wait until the pitcher at least moves past the one-year point from the time of his elbow surgery. That’d be May 10 — so I’d say you can expect to see Scott Downs and Jeremy Accardo getting some save opps until at least mid May.

Today’s lineups:

TEXAS (5-9) at TORONTO (8-6)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

RANGERS
Frank Catalanotto, LF
Michael Young, SS
Josh Hamilton, RF
Milton Bradley, DH
Hank Blalock, 3B
Jason Botts, 1B
David Murphy, CF
Gerald Laird, C
Ramon Vazquez, 2B

PITCHING: LHP Kason Gabbard

BLUE JAYS
David Eckstein, SS
Aaron Hills, 2B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Rod Barajas, C
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Marco Scutaro, LF
John McDonald, 3B

PITCHING: RHP Jesse Litsch

Got to do better than 1-for-3

BALTIMORE — Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons was in a joking mood before today’s game against the Orioles. Joe Inglett (5-for-11 since being called up from Triple-A) was held out of the starting lineup for the finale in Baltimore, so it was only natural for us scribes to ponder why Inglett was on the bench.

“He only has one hit last night — that’s unacceptable,” quipped Gibbons.

In reality, Mighty Joe was on the bench in order to get Marco Scutaro back in the mix. Gibbons said he didn’t want Scoot going too long between starts while Scott Rolen is out. Speaking of whom, Gibbons said that in a “best-case” scenario, Rolen could possibly be ready to return in two weeks, which would be later this month. I say that’s pretty optimistic.

Aaron Hill was back in the No. 2 hole in the lineup, where he figures to stay for a while. Hill’s enjoyed hitting second and Gibbons has really liked having Hill’s bat high in the order. You want your best hitters getting the most at-bats and Hill is certainly proving to be one of Toronto’s top offensive weapons. Batting second will give him more ABs.

Also, for those of you who might’ve heard a report on the FAN590 about GM J.P. Ricciardi joining the team unexpectedly on this road trip with intention of possibly firing Gibbons, well, there’s simply nothing to it. Ricciardi is back home in Boston and Gibby’s job is secure. The report was completely unsubstantiated.

TORONTO (7-6) at BALTIMORE (8-5)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Camden Yards

BLUE JAYS
David Eckstein, SS
Aaron Hill, 2B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Matt Stairs, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Gregg Zaun, C
Marco Scutaro, 3B

PITCHING: RHP Shaun Marcum

ORIOLES
Brian Roberts, 2B
Melvin Mora, 3B
Nick Markakis, RF
Kevin Millar, 1B
Luke Scott, DH
Jay Payton, LF
Ramon Hernandez, C
Adam Jones, CF
Luis Hernandez, SS

PITCHING: RHP Steve Trachsel

Rolen stops by

BALTIMORE — Scott Rolen showed up inside the visitor’s clubhouse at Camden Yards today, receiveing plenty of hand shakes all around. Sitting over with a group of players taking part in a card game, though, Jays second baseman Aaron Hill welcomed Rolen with this quip:

“We don’t need you, bro. We just swept.”

Before showing up at the ball yard, Rolen met with Dr. Thomas Graham, who performed surgery on the third baseman’s right middle finger at the end of spring. Reports on Rolen’s finger are good and he’s already throwing (no ground balls, just catch) and hitting (with a protective rubber guard on his finger).

Rolen’s finger is still tender, though, considering it hasn’t healed completely from the surgery. So the timeline remains the same, even though he’s ahead of schedule activity wise. That means he could be back toward the end of this month or some time in early May. More on his visit with us scribes on mlb.com in a while.

Also of note is that reliever Armando Benitez tweaked a hamstring covering first base in a Minor League game, according to Jays manager John Gibbons. Benitez is currently with Triple-A Syracuse, but Gibbons wasn’t sure the extent of the pitcher’s injury.

Catcher Rod Barajas was out of the lineup, but feeling better after tweaking a groin on Sunday. Gibbons said there’d be no need to DL Barajas and that he was available off the bench. Hill moves into the No. 3 hole with Alex Rios getting a day off and Mighty Joe Inglett remains in the starting lineup at third base.

Today’s lineups:

THE BATTLE FOR FIRST PLACE

TORONTO (7-5) at BALTIMORE (7-5)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Camden Yards

BLUE JAYS
David Eckstein, SS
Matt Stairs, RF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Shannon Stewart, LF
Gregg Zaun, C
Joe Inglett, 3B

PITCHING: RHP Dustin McGowan

ORIOLES
Brian Roberts, 2B
Melvin Mora, 3B
Nick Markakis, RF
Kevin Millar, 1B
Aubrey Huff, DH
Luke Scott, LF
Ramon Hernandez, C
Adam Jones, CF
Luis Hernandez, SS

PITCHING: RHP Matt Albers

A little R&R

TORONTO — For the first time since the first week of March, I am not at the ballyard with the Blue Birds. I didn’t make the trek to Texas for Toronto’s three-game set against the Rangers, but I’ll meet up with the Jays on the road in Baltimore. So, that’s it for now. Catch you all in a few days…

~JB

Carlson arrives, splitters leave

TORONTO — Today marked the arrival of left-hander Jesse Carlson, who said he had tears when he heard he was going to The Show. Carlson joins a bullpen that’s been taxed and struggling of late, most noticeably in the ninth inning with closer Jeremy Accardo.

Accardo hasn’t been throwing his splitter as much early on this year, which isn’t good. Even Manager John Gibbons said Accardo needs to be using the pitch more to be effective. That was the pitch that essentially earned Accardo the closer’s job last year when B.J. Ryan got hurt. Basically, Accardo’s split hasn’t been reliable and he’s been forced to turn more to his slider and cutter.

Scott Rolen is due to start hitting off a tee tomorrow and Ryan and reliever Armando Benitez are heading to Triple-A Syracuse to continue their respective journeys to Toronto’s bullpen. Ryan could be back with the Jays by next homestand, but Benitez still needs a little more time before he’s an option.

Accardo isn’t available out of the ‘pen for tonight’s series finale, nor is Scott Downs. So if there’s a save situation, Gibbons said he’ll just go with the pitcher who has the most favorable matchups. Marco Scutaro was still at third base on Thursday night and Gibby said there was no thought to giving him a day off.

Today’s lineups:

OAKLAND (5-4) at TORONTO (4-4)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

ATHLETICS
Travis Buck, RF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Daric Barton, 1B
Mike Sweeney, DH
Jack Cust, LF
Bobby Crosby, SS
Jack Hannahan, 3B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Ryan Sweeney, CF

PITCHING: LHP Dana Eveland

BLUE JAYS
David Eckstein, SS
Shannon Stewart, LF
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Rod Barajas, C
Marco Scutaro, 3B

PITCHING: RHP Dustin McGowan

Blue Jays fight back

TORONTO – Want to start a fight in the 500 level on Toonie Tuesdays? Well, you’re going to have to do it sober. After this week’s pile of fan altercations in the upper reaches of the Dome, especially during last night’s first $2 Tuesday promotion, the Jays have changed their alcohol policy.

For the three upcoming $2 Tuesdays — May 6, May 20 and June 10 — there will be no beer available in the seats affected by the promotion. That means all you fans hoping to throw down a toonie to sit in the 200 level outfield seats or in the 500 level with the intention of getting hammered, well, no beer for you.

This comes after Jays president and CEO Paul Godfrey witnessed a few of the fights from his suite at Rogers Centre. There were roughly 100 people kicked out of the park on Tuesday and an arrest made — roughly the same numbers as on Opening Day. Problem is that there were 21,000 fewer fans in the seats on Tuesday.

“If it continues to cause our fans who are interested in baseball a disturbance,” Godfrey said, “then I’ll seriously consider scrapping the $2 program entirely. It’s unfortunate, because it’s a good way to attract people, but we’re not going to tolerate that type of activity at the ballpark.”

“A few can always ruin it for the majority,” he continued. “It’s really unfortunate that some of them feel that this is a night club here. It’s not a night club. It’s a sport venue.”

Nice. With that, here’s tonight’s lineups. A little late, but what can you do?

OAKLAND (4-4) at TORONTO (4-3)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

ATHLETICS
Travis Buck, RF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Daric Barton, 1B
Jack Cust, DH
Emil Brown, LF
Bobby Crosby, SS
Jack Hannahan, 3B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Ryan Sweeney, CF

PITCHING: LHP Greg Smith

BLUE JAYS
David Eckstein, SS
Shannon Stewart, LF
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Aaron Hill, 2B
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Marco Scutaro, 3B
Gregg Zaun, C

PITCHING: RHP Dustin McGowan

Of brackets and baseball

TORONTO — Mario friggin Chalmers. I was two seconds away from being crowned champion of the only two NCAA bracket pools that I entered this year. Then Chalmers hits that crazy three pointer for the Jayhawks, sends the game against Memphis to OT and, well, I’m sure you can figure out the rest…

At least I still managed to win one of the pools. Apparently no one in that one had Kansas winning it all. Still, that was a pretty solid game throughout. Anyway, I’m sure you all are veeerrrry interested in how my brackets turned out. You are? OK, I had three of the Final Four teams and six of the Elite Eight correct. Oh, wait…you really weren’t interested.

On to Blue Jays then:

B.J. Ryan threw in a Minors game on Monday and will make one more appearance with Class A Dunedin on Wednesday before moving to Triple-A Syrcause. He’lk make about four outings there on his every other day schedule and could possibly be ready to rejoin the Jays for their next homestand. No pitching on consecutive days until some time in May, though.

Scott Rolen had the pin removed from his right middle finger on Monday and has already started doing some baseball activities. He’ll join up with the team on the road in Baltimore, where he’ll have his hand looked at by Dr. Thomas Graham. The hope is that Rolen can take part in BP and start throwing in Baltimore and then maybe be sent out on a rehab assignment. We’ll see.

Manager John Gibbons reiterated again today that Matt Stairs and Shannon Stewart are not in a strict platoon — that Stew will indeed get some starts against right-handers. Gibby also noted that it hasn’t been by design that Brandon League hasn’t been used yet. The starting pitching has just been so dang good and Gibby wanted to get Randy Wells in for his big-league debut the other day. Leaguer should be in there soon enough.

Today’s lineups:

OAKLAND (3-4) at TORONTO (4-2)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

ATHLETICS
Travis Buck, RF
Mark Ellis, 2B
Daric Barton, 1B
Mike Sweeney, DH
Jack Cust, LF
Bobby Crosby, SS
Jack Hannahan, 3B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Ryan Sweeney, CF

PITCHING: RHP Chad Gaudin

BLUE JAYS
David Eckstein, SS
Matt Stairs, LF
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Marco Scutaro, 3B
Gregg Zaun, C

PITCHING: RHP A.J. Burnett

Ryan, Rolen recovering well

TORONTO — Good news on the Florida front. B.J. Ryan is feeling great and only needed nine pitches to work through a Minor League game on Saturday. Scott Rolen is already doing baseball activities and is scheduled to have the pin removed from his broken right middle finger on Monday.

If they keep sailing along smoothly, there’s a chance both players could be back with the Jays before the end of the month. Ryan is pitching every other day now and will do so for two or three more games before the Jays plot his return. Rolen still has to test his finger while throwing, which will be the biggest obstacle for him going forward.

Manager John Gibbons was in rare form this morning, holding an easy-going session with a few of us reporters. He allowed us to reaarange the furniture in his office, moving the couch to a more scribe-friendly location, and he gave us each a little gel pack of that Mona Vie stuff Lyle Overbay has been hyping up to try, and we all shared a little Mona Vie toast.

Of course, while we were consuming the antioxident gel packs, Gibby noted that they turned Yankees manager Joe Girardi on to the stuff, too. Ummm, Girardi’s been out sick this week. I hope that’s foreshadowing for those of us hanging out with Gibby this morning.

We also told Gibby about a minor mishap that took place during batting practice on Saturday. GM J.P. Ricciardi’s younger son Mariano — of Shaun Marcum Spring Training bet fame — was helping bench coach Brian Butterfield out during infield drills, catching throws from players and tossing the ball up to Butter to hit grounders.

Rod Barajas was manning first for a little while and tossed one back toward Butter behind the third-base line, where the ball bounced smack off the top of Mariano’s head. Mariano had turned away for a second and Lyle Overbay joked that he’d go prepare Barajas’ release papers.

“We always knew he was accurate,” quipped Gibbons, joking about Barajas’ throw. “But that’s probably not the kid you want to hit. You’re better off hitting one of my kids.” Nice.

Some lineup changes today: John McDonald makes his first start of the year at short, but Gibbons said it’s not because he’s Roy Halladay’s personal shortstop. Matt Stairs is out, even though a right-hander is on the hill, because Gibby said Stairs hasn’t fared well against Josh Beckett and it’ll give Stairs two days (off-day on Monday) to rest the hip that dogged him late in the spring.

For the rest, here you go…

Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (3-2) at BOSTON (3-3)
at 1:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

RED SOX
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
David Ortiz, DH
Manny Ramirez, LF
Mike Lowell, 3B
J.D. Drew, RF
Jason Varitek, C
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Julio Lugo, SS

PITCHING: RHP Josh Beckett

BLUE JAYS
Shannon Stewart, LF
Aaron Hill, 2B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Marco Scutaro, 3B
Rod Barajas, C
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay

Ah, day games…

TORONTO — Quick turnaround after last night’s game. Not on much sleep, still haven’t unpacked my suitcases from the trip to New York (or Spring Training for that matter), but where would I rather be than at the ballyard?

I guess the Jays were a little too optimistic thinking that 50K showing last night was going to be a daily thing. The crowd is pretty thin here today. Not much going on pregame either. B.J. Ryan is scheduled to throw in a Minor League game in Florida today, weather permitting, and Toronto is going for a series win over the BoSox.

Jesse Litsch just struck out Julio Lugo to open the game, so I’m running a little behind this morning, obviously. With that in mind, here are…

Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (2-2) at BOSTON (3-2)
at 1:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

RED SOX
Julio Lugo, SS
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Manny Ramirez, LF
Mike Lowell, 3B
J.D. Drew, RF
Jason Varitek, C
Sean Casey, 1B
Coco Crisp, CF

PITCHING: RHP Clay Buchholz

BLUE JAYS
David Eckstein, SS
Matt Stairs, LF
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Frank Thomas, DH
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Aaron Hill, 2B
Marco Scutaro, 3B
Gregg Zaun, C

PITCHING: RHP Jesse Litsch

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