Game 55: Los Angeles at Toronto pregame

Prior to tonight’s game, Blue Jays assistant general manager, and local contract expert, Alex Anthopoulos held court for a few minutes with us reporters, providing us with another lesson in Baseball Transactions 101. Today’s lecture was on “draft-excluded” players.

The subject came up due to the promotion of right-hander Dirk Hayhurst. Had it not been for Hayhurst’s contract situation, he likely would have made the Blue Jays’ Opening Day roster. He wowed manager Cito Gaston this spring in seven appearances, striking out 13 with no walks over eight innings.

I’ll do my best to briefly sum up why Hayhurst could not make the team back then:

Hayhurst was added to the San Diego Padres’ 40-man roster after Aug. 15 last season, excluding him from being exposed to other club’s during the December Rule 5 Draft. Toronto then claimed Hayhurst off waivers on October 6, meaning Hayhurst had to be put on its 40-man list.

Now, because Hayhurst fell within the “draft-excluded” category, due to the Padres’ placing him on their 40 when they did, the Blue Jays were not allowed to remove him from their own 40 through outright waivers. The only option would be to release him, giving Hayhurst a chance to look for a job with other teams.

When the Jays had a chance to acquire Matt Bush via trade from San Diego in February, they explained the situation to Hayhurst. Toronto wanted to release him, clearing a spot on the 40, but then planned to re-sign him to a Minor League contract right away. Since he’d be released, the club wouldn’t be able to re-sign him with a Major League contract until May 15.

Basically, Hayhurst could have pursued work elsewhere, or head into spring with the Jays on a Minor League contract knowing that he couldn’t make the team, and that Toronto couldn’t possibly promote him until at least May 15. Hayhurst chose the latter, re-signing on Feb. 13, expressing to the Jays that it meant a lot to him that they wanted him in the first place.

So, Hayhurst went into camp knowing he couldn’t win a job, but with a chance to show the Jays something. That’s what he did, and that’s something Gaston remembers. Asked on Wednesday why Hayhurst got the call over, say, Jeremy Accardo, Gaston cited Hayhurst’s performance during the spring, and the fact that he showed loyalty to the organization.

With Triple-A Las Vegas, Accardo currently has a 3.60 ERA in 17 games, in which he’s allowed 23 hits and compiled 19 strikeouts versus seven walks over 20 innings with a .280 oppponents’ batting average. Hayhurst had a 5.11 in 15 games for Vegas, but his numbers are skewed by a rough stint as a starter.

Hayhurst made five starts out of necessity to open the year and posted a 6.75 ERA in those outings. As a reliever, the right-hander was much sharper, limiting hitters to a .239 average with 16 strikeouts, five walks and a 3.44 ERA over 18 1/3 innings across 10 games. More than anything, it was his showing this spring that won Gaston over.

Today’s lineups:

Thumbnail image for Angels.gifLOS ANGELES ANGELS (25-25)

1. Chone Figgins, 3B
2. Bobby Abreu, RF
3. Vlad Guerrero, DH
4. Kendry Morales, 1B
5. Juan Rivera, LF
6. Maicer Izturis, 2B
7. Gary Matthews Jr., CF
8. Jeff Mathis, C
9. Erick Aybar, SS

Starter: RHP Jered Weaver (4-2)

Thumbnail image for BlueJays.jpgTORONTO BLUE JAYS (30-24)

1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Alex Rios, RF
4. Vernon Wells, CF
5. Adam Lind, LF
6. Scott Rolen, 3B
7. Lyle Overbay, 1B
8. Kevin Millar, DH
9. Rod Barajas, C

Starter: RHP Casey Janssen (1-1)

Don’t forget, you can follow me on Twitter: @MLBastian

~JB

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