TORONTO — Riding the elevator up to the press level here at Rogers Centre, I was standing beside Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi and the friendly elevator operator. He turned to J.P., points to Mike Mussina’s name on the lineup sheet that was taped to the wall and said, “I don’t like this guy.”
He isn’t alone. It’s no secret that Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston isn’t a fan of Mussina, and that’s putting it lightly. Earlier this season, when asked about Mussina — tonight’s starter for the Yankees — Gaston said, “Mike Mussina can kiss my [posterior], and you can tell him I said that,”
Today, when told that Mussina might never win 20 games in a season if Toronto won tonight’s game, Gaston smiled and said, “Man, I wish I was playing.” There were laughs all around as Cito left the dugout. Gaston’s dislike of Mussina dates back to the 1993 All-Star Game in Baltimore, when the manager didn’t use the pitcher in his home city.
In the ninth inning, Mussina began to warm up in the bullpen — without the go-ahead from Gaston — and he later claimed that he was simply throwing a side session in preparation for his next start. That was his story, but it was thought by some to be Mussina’s way of trying to force his way into the game. Gaston instead used Toronto’s Duane Ward to finish off the AL’s win.
As for today’s Blue Jays? Casey Janssen is in town and is throwing from a distance of roughly 105 feet. He’ll work his way up to 120 feet and then on to a mound over the next month before shutting it down for a month or so.
Gaston said that the rotation for the upcoming series in Baltimore will be Scott Richmond, John Parrish and Jesse Litsch. David Purcey has been shut down for the season in light of the volume of innings he’s thrown between Triple-A and Toronto.
NEW YORK (85-71) at TORONTO (83-73)
at 7:07 p.m. ET at the Rogers Centre
Brett Gardner, CF
Johnny Damon, LF
Bobby Abreu, RF
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Jason Giambi, 1B
Xavier Nady, DH
Robinson Cano, 2B
Cody Ransom, SS
Jose Molina, C
PITCHING: RHP Mike Mussina (18-9, 3.57)
Joe Inglett, 2B
Marco Scutaro, SS
Alex Rios, RF
Vernon Wells, CF
Adam Lind, LF
Lyle Overbay, 1B
Scott Rolen, 3B
Gregg Zaun, C
Travis Snider, DH
PITCHING: RHP Jesse Litsch (12-8, 3.72)