Notes: Recent woes don't faze Chulk
Right-handed reliever hopes to avoid stint in Minors
BOSTON -- A few minutes before Jason Frasor headed out of Yankee Stadium to catch a plane to the Minor Leagues last Friday, his friend and fellow Blue Jays reliever, Vinnie Chulk, stopped him to share a few words.
It was a situation based on circumstance. Frasor was dealing with some pitching struggles, and Toronto was worn thin in the bullpen. The Jays needed to add a fresh arm and wanted Frasor to sort through his command issues. Whether or not it was a necessary move, Chulk knew that the news hit Frasor hard.
"It was tough for him," Chulk said. "I told him, 'It's not the worst thing that can happen to you, and it happens to a lot of people.' Some people just have to go down. ... I'm hoping, for his sake, that he goes down there and gets right."
Chulk's recent woes -- four runs on two homers allowed in one inning against the Orioles on Tuesday, for example -- have raised questions about whether he may be in need of a similar assignment. In 12 outings, the right-hander has given up 12 earned runs on 19 hits in 14 2/3 innings.
Even though he saw Frasor get optioned to Triple-A Syracuse after facing similar problems, Chulk said that he isn't worried about possibly facing the same scenario.
"You can't really think like that. I've been here for two years. I know I can get the job done," Chulk said. "I go out there every day with confidence and try to get outs -- try to help the team and let everything take care of itself.
"[Frasor] being sent down didn't make me nervous at all," he added. "If I'm going to get that phone call, I'm going to get that phone call."
Jays manager John Gibbons wouldn't say if Toronto was considering a similar move with Chulk. He did note, though, that Frasor may be back with the Jays after missing the minimum amount of games required. Frasor is eligible to return to the club on May 8 and, at that point, Gibbons said Toronto will reevaluate the bullpen situation.
"I would never say that," said Gibbons, referring to whether or not Chulk might need a stint in the Minors. "With Frasor, a lot of it was out of necessity. We needed somebody up here, and he needed to work some things out. He can stay 10 days and then we'll look at some things."
Still platooning? Despite the fact that Alex Rios' name was penciled into the starting lineup for the fifth consecutive game, Gibbons wasn't ready to claim that the platoon with Eric Hinske in right field had been abandoned. Instead, Gibbons continued to insist that he's playing the hot hand -- keeping Rios in the order because of his impressive start.
"He had three knocks last night. We have to get him back in there, don't we?" said Gibbons, referring to Rios' 3-for-5 performance on Tuesday.
As far as Hinske goes, Toronto entered the season with the idea that the left-handed former infielder would be in the lineup against right-handed pitchers. Thanks to Rios' .380 batting average, entering Wednesday, Hinske has made few starts recently -- despite hitting .344. Rios has started against the last three righties the Jays have faced.
Having Rios start on Wednesday was also because Toronto ace Roy Halladay was pitching. Gibbons wanted Rios in the outfield because he is a better defender than Hinske.
Still streaking: Toronto's designated hitter Shea Hillenbrand has posted a .526 (20-for-38) average across his last 12 games and has hit safely in 11 of those contests. Since April 18, Hillenbrand has raised his average from .217 to .345.
On Tuesday, Vernon Wells went 0-for-3 to snap an 11-game hitting streak, but the walk he drew in the seventh inning against Baltimore marked the 25th straight game that the center fielder has reached base this year. Wells singled in the first inning on Wednesday to extend that streak to 26 games -- accounting for every Toronto game. That streak is the longest of its kind in team history.
Minor awards: Right-hander Ty Taubenheim, who was acquired in the trade that brought first baseman Lyle Overbay to Toronto, was honored with the organization's Pitcher of the Month award for April. In five starts for Triple-A Syracuse, Taubenheim went 2-2 with a 1.48 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings.
The Blue Jays' Player of the Month honor was awarded to outfielder Cory Patton of the Class A Lansing Lugnuts. Patton hit .296 with three home runs and 19 RBIs in April. Patton also received the Midwest League's Player of the Week award for the week of April 24-30. During that span, Patton hit .529 (9-for-17), posted a .941 slugging percentage and recorded four RBIs.
Quotable: "I heard it was supposed to stop before, but then I heard it was going to rain all night. The weatherman has the safest job in the world. They never have to be right." -- Gibbons, on the rainy conditions in Boston on Wednesday
Coming up: Toronto right-hander Josh Towers (0-5, 10.45 ERA) will take on Boston righty Matt Clement (2-2, 6.14 ERA) in the series finale of a two-game set against the Red Sox at 7:05 p.m. ET on Thursday at Fenway Park.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.