07/12/2003 4:14 PM ET
Notes: Movement in the bullpen
Tam goes to Triple-A, Davis rejects assignment
TORONTO -- One went down, but one just went away. On Saturday, the Blue
Jays got resolution on a few overdue player decisions. Jeff Tam,
outrighted to Triple-A Syracuse on Thursday, elected to accept that
assignment and stay in Toronto's system. Doug Davis, however, did not.
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Davis, a left-handed starter, will become a free agent. He decided to
look elsewhere for employment, as opposed to going to Syracuse and
working his way back to the big leagues. In 11 games as a Blue Jay, Davis
went 4-6 with a 5.00 ERA.
"I didn't get a chance to talk to him that night, but I did the next
day. I was hoping he would go to Triple-A and work out of the bullpen,"
said Toronto manager Carlos Tosca. "I had talked to him while he was
here, because I felt that he could do that. I'm disappointed that he
decided to go somewhere else -- he said that he's going to take his
Davis had mixed results during his Toronto tenure, and he struggled to
get out of the fifth inning on a regular basis. In 54 innings of work,
he walked more batters (26) than he struck out (25). That's never a
good sign for a pitcher, even a lefty.
The 27-year-old will undoubtedly surface somewhere else, but he may not
walk into a starting assignment. After struggling with both Texas and
Toronto, he may have to go down to the minor leagues and prove himself
Staring that stark reality in the face, Davis probably decided that
he'd like to choose the next organization he joins. He arrived in Toronto
as an in-season waiver claim, but now his destiny is squarely in his
Lefty in the right place: After the longest outing of his career
on Friday, Jason Kershner met the media with a flourish. When he
approached his locker, he swept his hand onto his forehead, blocking out the
lights from several cameras. The left-handed reliever may not be a
seasoned media superstar, but he's shaping into an important member of
Since his recent recall, Kershner has pitched 9 1/3 innings without
allowing a run. After Friday, when he faced 16 batters and retired 14 of
them, a group of reporters asked him about his sudden success.
"Thanks for jinxing me," he joked, before getting down to business.
"When I was here earlier in the year, I was throwing a lot of stuff down
the middle. At this level, if you throw anything down the middle to any
of these guys, you're going to pay for it. You can get away with it a
little more in Triple-A, but in the big leagues it's a different story."
Kershner said that he's basically tried to keep the ball down and away
from the middle of the plate. That's worked so far, as has staying
ahead in the count. Tosca said that Kershner is successful because he
doesn't nibble. He picks an area he wants to attack and then he goes right
at that spot.
Another big adjustment has been Kershner's increased usage of his
changeup. That's always been a key pitch for him, but he's starting to use
it now in different situations. A conversation with Tosca changed that,
making Kershner a completely different pitcher.
"I threw it the first time I was here, but I'm getting better movement
on it now and spotting it better," he said. "All the way through the
minor leagues, my best pitch had always been my changeup. Carlos said
something to me about it the other day.
"He said he wanted me to start using it more against lefties -- because
I have it, I may as well use it. I had heard, I don't know how many
years ago, that a changeup's not a good pitch to a lefty. If you spot it
in the right place, it's a good pitch whether it's a right-hander or a
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was
not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.