Game 86: Toronto at Tampa Bay pregame
It was a given that someone was going to be removed from the Blue Jays’ bullpen soon. Closer Scott Downs was coming off the DL and a spot had to be vacated.
Even with B.J. Ryan’s recent struggles, though, learning that the club decided to release the former closer came as a bit of a shock.
“I mean, we knew Downs was coming back at some point and someone had to come out of the ‘pen,” said reliever Jason Frasor, who served as the interim closer while Downs’ was on the DL. “But, when I heard it was B.J., it was like ‘Wow. They actually did it.'”
Ryan is still on the books for roughly $5 million more this season and another $10 million in 2010 — paychecks that will continue to head his way from the Blue Jays.
Assistant GM Alex Anthopoulos said the Blue Jays discussed the move internally on Tuesday night, cleared it with ownership Wednesday morning, and Ryan learned he was being released around 3 p.m. ET — a half-hour before the clubhouse doors open. Word is that he rode away in a golf cart in the service-level tunnel.
Ryan didn’t help his cause on Monday when he said he felt some of his command issues stemmed from his sporadic use. It was the ol’ Catch-22, as Anthopoulos pointed out. Ryan believed more time on the mound could help, but manager Cito Gaston no longer trusted Ryan to pitch in critical situations.
“A few days ago, I think we saw in the media that he expressed some frustration of not being able to pitch more and be used more,” Anthopoulos said. “I think that’s what it came down to, that the role that we had for him right now, we couldnt get him the work that he wanted to have.
“It was one of those things that it’s a Catch-22. He needed to pitch more to get the results, but unfortunately we’re in the business of trying to win games and Cito needs to do what he can to give the team the best chance to win and put the best guys in there that he feels gives us the best chance.”
Downs, who was activated from the DL after a bout with a sprained left toe, will immediately return to the closer’s role — a job he was handed in April in light of Ryan’s continued issues on the mound. With Downs as the closer and Brian Tallet in the rotation, heavily-used Jesse Carlson is the lone lefty specialist available in the bullpen now.
1. Marco Scutaro, SS
2. Aaron Hill, 2B
3. Adam Lind, DH
4. Scott Rolen, 3B
5. Vernon Wells, CF
6. Kevin Millar, 1B
7. Alex Rios, RF
8. Jose Bautista, LF
9. Raul Chavez, C
Starter: LHP Brian Tallet, (5-6, 5.38)
TAMPA BAY RAYS (45-39)
Second place AL East, 5.5 GB
1. B.J. Upton, CF
2. Carl Crawford, LF
3. Evan Longoria, 3B
4. Carlos Pena, 1B
5. Ben Zobrist, 2B
6. Pat Burrell, DH
7. Jason Bartlett, SS
8. Gabe Kapler, RF
9. Dioner Navarro, C
Starter: LHP Scott Kazmir (4-5, 6.79)
*The Jays have not slipped to a .500 record at any point this season
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