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Notes: Movement in the bullpen
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07/12/2003  4:14 PM ET 
Notes: Movement in the bullpen
Tam goes to Triple-A, Davis rejects assignment
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Jeff Tam was sent down to Triple-A Syracuse on Saturday. (Charles Krupa/AP)
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.

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 chances."

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 again.

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 own hands.

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 Toronto's bullpen.

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 left-hander."

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.



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