August 2008

Bautista joins the Blue Birds

TORONTO — The Blue Jays have acquired infielder Jose Bautista from the Pirrsburgh Pirates in exchange for the well-traveled player to be named. No word yet on what sort of role Bautista will be filling with Toronto.

My guess is that this is simply a move to add some insurance at third base. Toronto is without Scott Rolen (left shoulder) and it’s not clear when he’ll be back, and utilityman Marco Scutaro has been the regular at the hot corner.

At Triple-A,  Toronto’s depth at third base isn’t exactly strong. There’s Hector Luna, Sergio Santos and a handful of others. Adding Bautista seems to add a little more depth — not a bad idea if Rolen will be out for much longer.

More later…

UPDATE: 6:26 p.m. — So manager Cito Gaston was no-committal about saying Bautista would step in as Toronto’s regular third baseman, but it wounds like he’ll be getting regular playing time, especially against left-handed pitching.

Bautista is under contract for $1.8 million this year and is contractually controllable for the next three years. He wasn’t in Toronto yet, but was expected to be with the club in time for the weekend set against the Red Sox. No corresponding move has been made to clear room on the roster, but it would appear that Kevin Mench is the odd-man out, though David Eckstein could potentially be a candidate.

Toronto put in a claim on Bautista and then worked out a deal for the third baseman. The Jays now have six months to complete the trade, according to GM J.P. Ricciardi. Toronto’s GM added that he’s still monitoring the waiver wire daily to see if there’s any other options, considering that the Jays are still on the outer edges of the playoff race.

Today’s lineups:

NEW YORK (67-59) TORONTO (65-61)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

YANKEES
Johnny Damon, CF
Derek Jeter, SS
Bobby Abreu, RF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Jason Giambi, 1B
Xavier Nady, LF
Hideki Matsui, DH
Robinson Cano, 2B
Ivan Rodriguez, C

PITCHING: RHP Sidney Ponson (3-2, 4.50)

BLUE JAYS
Joe Inglett, 2B
Marco Scutaro, 3B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Adam Lind, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Matt Stairs, DH
Rod Barajas, C
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay (14-9, 2.64)

The Battle for Third Place

TORONTO — With a win tonight, the Blue Jays would move into a tie with the Yankees for third place in the American League East. That’d be a big step for this Toronto club, which has labored all season long through offensive lulls and multiple injuries.

Still, as much as the Jays have kept their postseason aspirations dimly lit, it’ll take a near miracle — a Rockies-like performance down the stretch — for Toronto to make the playoffs. Let’s say the Jays need 90 wins to get in, that means they’d have to go 25-12 the rest of the way.

With the Rays, Red Sox, Yankees, Twins and White Sox all on the schedule still, that’s going to be a tough feat for Toronto to accomplish. Stranger things have happened, sure, but the Jays have to keep going like they have this past week. They can’t afford any lapses, no matter how slight.

Today’s lineups:

NEW YORK (66-59) TORONTO (65-60)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre

YANKEES
Johnny Damon, CF
Derek Jeter, SS
Bobby Abreu, RF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Jason Giambi, 1B
Xavier Nady, LF
Hideki Matsui, DH
Robinson Cano, 2B
Jose Molina, C

PITCHING: LHP Andy Pettitte (12-9, 4.30)

BLUE JAYS
David Eckstein, 2B
Marco Scutaro, 3B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Adam Lind, LF
Rod Barajas, C
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Kevin Mench, DH
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: LHP David Purcey (2-3, 5.93)

Downs on the mend

TORONTO — Scott Downs tested his sprained right ankle in a bullpen session here at Fenway Park today and the pitcher is still hoping to be ready in time for Toronto’s upcoming series against the Yankees.

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said the club is more concerned about Downs’ lateral movement than his ability to pitch off a mound. Bottom line, if this game today goes deep into extra innings and Toronto runs out of pitchers…

“I could pitch,” Downs said.

Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (63-60) at BOSTON (71-52)
at 1:35 p.m. ET at Fenway Park

BLUE JAYS
Joe Inglett, 2B
Marco Scutaro, 3B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Adam Lind, DH
Rod Barajas, C
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Brad Wilkerson, LF
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Shaun Marcum (7-5, 3.42)

RED SOX
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 1B
J.D. Drew, RF
Jason Bay, LF
Jed Lowrie, 3B
Alex Cora, SS
Jason Varitek, C

PITCHING: RHP Josh Beckett (11-8, 3.92)

From the foregone conclusion department

TORONTO — Alex Rios just deposited a pitch from Paul Byrd over the Grenn Monster in left field for a two-run homer here in the first at Fenway, so as you can tell I’m a bit behind at the moment.

Had to wait a bit before the game to catch up with A.J. Burnett. Jays skip Cito Gaston said today that he didn’t think Burnett would be back next year — kind of stating the assumed there — so we waited to see what A.J. had to say about the matter.

“He’s just answering a question,” Burnett said. “He was probably putting himself in my shoes and answering anything that he would do, but I’m not going to worry about it. I’ve got a month and a half to finish.”

Burnett, who can opt out of his deal at the end of the year, was asked if it ever entered into his mind that his value seemingly rises with every strong start he turns in.

“I don’t really care about the free market and money and things like that,” he said. “I’m finally healthy and I’m finally winning some ballgames and helping this team out for the first time in three years. That’s the way I look at it.”

Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (62-60) at BOSTON (71-51)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Fenway Park

BLUE JAYS
Joe Inglett, 2B
Marco Scutaro, 3B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Adam Lind, DH
Rod Barajas, C
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Brad Wilkerson, LF
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay (13-9, 2.72)

RED SOX
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
J.D. Drew, RF
Jason Bay, LF
Jed Lowrie, SS
Sean Casey, 1B
Jason Varitek, C

PITCHING: RHP Paul Byrd (7-10, 4.53)

Rain, rain, go away…

BOSTON – It’s 7:22 p.m. here and the tarp is still covering Fenway Park, which always seems moist whether it’s raining or not. In today’s case, it actually is raining and it has been for some time now. There’s also a big green blob hovering all around Boston on the ol’ radar.

So, to be continued for a start time, if there is one at all, for this game tonight. Thing’s learned pregame: Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi officially said what we’ve all assumed: Aaron Hill is not going to come back this season. Scott Downs, injured ankle and all, played catch but won’t likely be available until possible the upcoming homestand.

Ricciardi also confirmed that catching prospect J.P. Arencibia and outfield prospect Travis Snider are headed for the Arizona Fall League, so you won’t be seeing them in Toronto in September. Minor League infielder Scott Campbell and three pitchers — undecided on who — could be joining them.

As for Ricky Romero and Brett Cecil, it doesn’t look like they’ll be coming in September, either. Said Ricciardi: “They’re both pitching well, but they’re both where they need to be. I think with Litsch and Purcey and Richmond and Marcum and all these guys, we’ve got arms. It’d be foolish to bring those guys up just to have them up here. I think next year, big league camp, and see where they go from there.”

*Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (62-60) at BOSTON (71-51)
at ??? p.m. ET at Fenway Park

BLUE JAYS
Joe Inglett, 2B
Marco Scutaro, 3B
Adam Lind, LF
Vernon Wells, CF
Matt Stairs, DH
Rod Barajas, C
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Brad Wilkerson, RF
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Roy Halladay (13-9, 2.72)

RED SOX
Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
Dustin Pedroia, 2B
David Ortiz, DH
Kevin Youkilis, 3B
J.D. Drew, RF
Jason Bay, LF
Jed Lowrie, SS
Sean Casey, 1B
Jason Varitek, C

PITCHING: RHP Paul Byrd (7-10, 4.53)

*subject to weather, of course

OUCH: Blue Jays catcher Rod Barajas nearly endured an embarrassing injury this afternoon. The steps leading from the dugout to the visitors’ clubhouse were slippery from the rain, and Barajas’ feet went out from under him as he headed down to the tunnel. Beyond some dirt on his backstop, Barajas survived the loud fall. “Yeah, I’m fine,” he said. “But my ego is a little crushed.”

Downs down, but not out

DETROIT — Scott Downs wasn’t using crutches and he had to be talked into wearing a protective boot for his sprained right ankle. Downs is also trying to avoid going on the disabled list for the Blue Jays.

Toronto is going to hold off on putting the left-handed setup man on the DL for a few days, because being without Downs for five days is a whole lot better than being without him for two weeks. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to pitch in Boston this weekend, so a decision about DLing him might not come until Tuesday, following an off-day on Monday.

Then again, it could come sooner. We’ll just have to wait and see. Downs felt a pop in his ankle after rolling it during the ninth inning on Wednesday night, but there was only a little swelling. He wasn’t walking with a limp on Thursday and is keeping his fingers crossed that he’ll be able to come back swiftly.

Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (62-59) at DETROIT (58-62)
at 1:05 p.m. ET at Comerica Park

BLUE JAYS
Joe Inglett, 2B
Marco Scutaro, 3B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Matt Stairs, DH
Adam Lind, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Gregg Zaun, C
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Jesse Litsch (8-7, 4.46)

TIGERS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Placio Polanco, 2B
Magglio Ordonez, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Gary Sheffield, DH
Matt Joyce, LF
Edgar Renteria, SS
Brandon Inge, 3B
Dane Sardinha, C

PITCHING: RHP Armando Galarraga (10-4, 3.23)

Bo don't know

DETROIT — The Blue Jays could run into a dicey situation if a save situation presents itself here in Motown tonight. Toronto is still sticking to the whole “B.J. Ryan won’t pitch in three consecutive games” deal, meaning the big lefty isn’t available.

Ryan shrugged and walked away when we tried to ask if he knew if that ban might be lifted before the end of the year.

“You’re talking to the wrong people, boss,” Ryan said. “They haven’t told me anything, either.”

Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said that for “right now” there will be no using Ryan in three straight games. The club has been extra cautious with the closer’s schedule, considering he’s roughly 16 months removed from that Tommy John surgery on his left elbow.

Gaston noted that Ryan threw some in the bullpen to stay sharp on Sunday, before appearing in games on Monday and Tuesday. So, unofficially, Ryan has thrown three days in a row. As for tonight, Gaston said he could use Jason Frasor, Jesse Carlson, Shawn Camp, or even Scott Downs, even though he’s pitched in the past two games.

“Downs could probably go again,” Gaston said. “And, pretty much, we’ve got Jesse out there. We might have to go back with, I don’t know, Frasor or Camp. I don’t want to use Ryan tonight, for sure. So, Downs is the only guy I’ve got out there, really.”

One guy not out there, in the field that is, is Vernon Wells. He’s back in the lineup as the DH. Wells, who is fresh off the disabled list after hurting his left hamstring, said he’ll probably DH on days that Toronto is facing a left-hander starter. Makes sense, since Matt Stairs rides the pine against southpaws.

Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (61-59) at DETROIT (58-61)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Comerica Park

BLUE JAYS
Marco Scutaro, 3B
David Eckstein, 2B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, DH
Rod Barajas, C
Adam Lind, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Kevin Mench, RF
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: LHP David Purcey (1-3, 7.40)

TIGERS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Placio Polanco, 2B
Magglio Ordonez, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Gary Sheffield, DH
Ryan Raburn, LF
Edgar Renteria, SS
Brandon Inge, C
Ramon Santiago, 3B

PITCHING: LHP Kenny Rogers (8-9, 4.92)

Jesse's back

DETROIT — While waiting to chat with Jesse Litsch this afternoon, the pitcher was getting ready to head out for a pregame bullpen session. While he was getting ready, Shaun Marcum called Litsch’s name and tossed a pair of black socks in his direction.

Litsch looked up just in time to take the socks right off his face. Marcum, who has thrown two strong outings in a row for the Jays, laughed.

“See? I’m starting to hit my spots better,” Marcum quipped.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, Litsch is back and will be starting on Thursday. Roy Halladay is pushed back to Friday’s opener in Boston, while Scott Richmond heads to the bullpen and John Parrish to Syracuse.

More on Litsch’s return on bluejays.com in a bit.

Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (60-59) at DETROIT (58-60)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Comerica Park

BLUE JAYS
Joe Inglett, 2B
Marco Scutaro, 3B
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Matt Stairs, DH
Rod Barajas, C
Adam Lind, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP A.J. Burnett (14-9, 4.62)

TIGERS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Placio Polanco, 2B
Carlos Guillen, 3B
Magglio Ordonez, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Matt Joyce, LF
Gary Sheffield, DH
Edgar Renteria, SS
Brandon Inge, C

PITCHING: RHP Zach Miner (6-4, 3.57)

Bastian's back, Stewart released

DETROIT — Back from my weekend college reunion-type deal and man I’m rusty. The game has started and I haven’t posted the blog yet. Sorry all. Mrs. Bastian and I had a lovely time, but I guess it’s time to get back to work.

Good news for Shannon Stewart: He was activated from the disabled list today. Bad news for Stewart: He was promptly released. Basically, no room in the inn. Kinda funny how the Jays cleared room on their roster for Stewart to add more offense and it got to a point where now they don’t have room for him.

Talk about a rough year for Stew. He had a multi-year deal on the table from the Jays and his agent turned it down. He switches agents and is still without a job by Spring Training. He beats out Reed Johnson for the job and then suffers in a part-time role. Johnson thrives with the Cubs, Stew busts his ankle in June and is unemployed again.

It’s also been a rough year for Aaron Hill, who is once again back in Florida, according to Jays skipper Cito Gaston, who came thiiiiiis close to admitting that Hill is done for the year: “He’s pretty much done.” Gaston was asked for clarification and continued:

“He’ll see us down there when we go down to play the Rays. He told me he might come back up for another week when we’re back home, maybe the last homestand. It doesn’t look good. It looks like he might have to shut it down for the year — we’re not sure.

“I’m not saying he’s done for the year, but I’m pretty sure. I’m not sure, but I’d almost imagine that he is. We haven’t made that announcement yet. If I had to bet, I would think he’s probably done.”

The Jays keep dancing around this. Hill hasn’t played since May 29 due to post-concussion syndrome and he’s only taken part in light activities since. It’s getting to the point where there’s little time to get him back in playing shape if he would be coming back. I think we all assume the official word is going to come that Hill is being shut down, the only question is when. Gaston almost said it today, before quickly covering himself.

In other news, Jeremy Accardo and Brian Tallet will be with Triple-A Syracuse on Tuesday to continue their respective Minor League rehab stints. Toronto wants Accardo to be able to comfortably pitch in consecutive games before he can come back. Tallet isn’t too far off.

Today’s lineups:

TORONTO (59-59) at DETROIT (58-59)
at 7:05 p.m. ET at Comerica Park

BLUE JAYS
Joe Inglett, 2B
Marco Scutaro, 3B
Alex Rios, CF
Vernon Wells, CF
Matt Stairs, DH
Rod Barajas, C
Adam Lind, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
John McDonald, SS

PITCHING: RHP Shaun Marcum (6-5, 3.44)

TIGERS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Placio Polanco, 2B
Carlos Guillen, 3B
Magglio Ordonez, RF
Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Matt Joyce, LF
Gary Sheffield, DH
Edgar Renteria, SS
Brandon Inge, C

PITCHING: RHP Justin Verlander (8-12, 4.56)

Disappearing for a few days…

Yeah, this scribe is getting away from the Blue Jays for a few days, getting out of Canada even. I’ll be kicking back at a friend’s cottage in Michigan this weekend, catching up with some of my old buddies from MSU.

Funny how it worked out that the Jays are heading to Detroit for a four-game set starting Monday. The lovely Mrs. Bastian will be dropping me off in Motown on her drive back to Toronto after our weekend by the lake.

So, I’ll be back here blogging come Monday in Detroit. Until then, keep the comments coming…

~JB

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