08/05/2002 1:55 pm ET
MLBeat: Tall order for Blue Jays
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Make way for the tallest Blue Jay in franchise history. Mark Hendrickson, a 6-foot-9 former NBA player, was selected from Triple-A Syracuse on Monday. Hendrickson, a southpaw pitcher, will take Scott Eyre's roster spot. Eyre, who is in the middle of his most successful Major League season, was designated for assignment to make room for the rookie.
If Eyre clears waivers, he will most likely be assigned to Triple-A Syracuse. This was an odd move, if only for one reason: Hendrickson could have been called up in a month, when rosters expand, without risking the loss of any other players.
"We want a left-hander who is automatic against lefties," said J.P. Ricciardi, Toronto's general manager. "Basically, we're going with the hot hand at this point. We want someone to take that role. Now, Hendrickson will get a chance."
At any rate, Hendrickson, pardon the pun, is a high-ceiling prospect. He's an athlete, as evidenced by his journeyman basketball career. In college, he was a two-time All-Pac-10 selection, but his pro career didn't pan out as well. In 2001, he stopped playing hoops and committed himself to baseball on a fulltime basis. This year, he's shown a tremendous amount of improvement. In 92 innings at Triple-A, Hendrickson has gone 7-5 with a 3.52 ERA. This will be his first stint on a Major League roster.
Eyre, meanwhile, was 2-4 with a 4.97 ERA in the big leagues. He had been Toronto's primary lefty out of the bullpen, but he had struggled as of late. In nine appearances since the All-Star break, left-handed hitters were batting 4-for-16 with two doubles and a home run against him. The homer, hit by Chris Singleton, came on Friday night. For the season, Eyre had a 3.90 ERA against left-handed batters and a 6.10 ERA against righties.
"His numbers are deceiving," Ricciardi said. "We have not done a good job against left-handers."
A lot of those statistics are skewed by a disastrous April. Eyre was tried as a starter in that month, but he was reassigned to the bullpen when it didn't work out. In his new role, Eyre provided two months of impeccable relief. In May, he posted a 2.21 ERA in 13 appearances. Then, he did even better in June. In 16 outings, Eyre accounted for an incredible 0.84 ERA. July wasn't as stellar a month for him, but it wasn't terrible, either.
Since he was designated for assignment, things get dicey as far as predicting his future. Another team could pick him up on a waiver claim, but if no one does, one of two things will happen. Either Eyre will accept an assignment to the minor leagues or he will declare himself a free agent.
Sidelined Superstar: Carlos Delgado wasn't in the lineup for the second straight day on Monday. Delgado, who snapped the second-longest active Iron Man streak on Sunday, took an extra day off to heal.
Toronto's cleanup hitter said it was his idea to sit out, although he had discussed it with manager Carlos Tosca in the preceding days. Now, the focus is simple: getting healthy enough to play and contribute on a daily basis.
"I'm not Cal Ripken. I don't want to be Cal Ripken," Delgado said. "I'm not chasing anyone's dream."
So far this season, the first baseman is batting .251 with 21 homers, 77 RBIs and 68 runs scored. If the injury doesn't sideline him too long, Delgado should extend an impressive streak. He's on pace to hit 30 homers, score 100 runs and drive in 100 RBIs for the fourth straight season.
Rookie ball: With Hendrickson's addition to the team, Toronto has nine rookies on the active roster. The most the franchise has ever had at one time is 12, set in the 1977 expansion season. So far this season, the Jays have used 14 first-year players, two shy of the record set in 1977.
Fantasy Edge: Dave Berg got his second straight start at first base on Monday. In his last 12 starts, Berg is 15-for-45 (.333). Since June 29, he's moved his average from .229 to .266.
Spencer Fordin, who covers the Blue Jays for MLB.com, can be reached at
email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major
League Baseball or its clubs.