Notes: Jays give Luna a chance
Team claims former Indians third baseman off waivers
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays did their homework. They know that the Indians weren't pleased with Hector Luna this past spring, but Toronto also believes Luna can potentially serve as a valuable utility player.
The latter took precedence over any issues that Luna had in Cleveland, and that's why the Jays didn't hesitate to claim the infielder off waivers on Friday. The 27-year-old Luna can serve as a backup shortstop, second baseman and third baseman, and he could occasionally work in the outfield, according to Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi.
"We're just trying to build up some infield depth," Ricciardi said on Saturday. "We've always liked him in the past and it was a chance to get a guy."
In 83 games with Triple-A Buffalo this season, Luna hit .251 with six home runs and 35 RBIs. Entering the year, Cleveland had hoped the native of the Dominican Republic could fill its primary utility role off the big league bench, but a poor showing in Spring Training led to a demotion to the Minors.
During the spring, Luna arrived to camp out of shape and it took a toll on his play in the field. Cleveland tested him out at all four infield spots and Luna struggled at each position. In the spring, Luna led the Majors with eight errors, including three at third, three at short, and one each at first and second.
"We've seen him play all year," Ricciardi said. "He doesn't look like he's out of shape to me. It's a chance for him to come up here and open some eyes. ... Not to be cold-hearted, but this isn't a 20-year deal. It's an opportunity for the player to take advantage of an opportunity."
One day before claiming Luna, Toronto purchased the contract of infielder Ray Olmedo from Triple-A Syracuse and designated 37-year-old shortstop Royce Clayton for assignment. Toronto will use the final two months of the season to evaluate both Luna and Olmedo to see if either, or both, fit into its plans for next year.
Luna, who has an option left for the 2008 season, can potentially provide more offense than Olmedo. Over 260 games in the Majors between Cleveland and St. Louis, Luna has hit .276 with 10 home runs and 78 RBIs. Toronto designated infielder Howie Clark for assignment to clear room for Luna, and Ricciardi said the club may not be done tinkering with its roster.
"We're not going to stop looking," Ricciardi said. "We're going to keep watching the waiver wire this August period -- any way we can keep upgrading. You just try to be as active as you can, keep your finger on the pulse, and try to get guys you think can help."
Glaus slumping: For just the third time this season, Blue Jays third baseman Troy Glaus was moved down to the sixth spot in the lineup. Glaus has been toiling through a mean slump since July 16, when his average stood at .296. In the 16 games since then, Glaus has hit just .129 (8-for-62), dropping his average to .260 in the process. He's 2-for-28 at the plate over his past seven games.
Chart climbers: With a victory on Friday night, Toronto ace Roy Halladay reached 107 career wins, moving the right-hander into a tie with Pat Hentgen for fourth on the club's all-time list. Blue Jays center fielder Vernon Wells collected three singles in the victory, upping his career total to 1,041 hits, which is the sixth-highest figure in franchise history. Wells sits just 10 hits shy of moving into a tie with Joe Carter (1,051) for fifth place on Toronto's all-time hit list.
Great Scott: The Blue Jays continue to rely heavily on reliever Scott Downs, but it's hard to argue against using the reliable left-hander. Since June 1, Downs has yielded just one run over 28 outings -- good enough for a 0.41 ERA over that span. Downs' 55 relief outings rank third in the American League, and he also leads Toronto's bullpen in ERA (2.16), strikeouts (46), strikeouts per nine innings (9.94) and batting average against (.207).
Romero rolling: Ricky Romero -- selected fifth overall by Toronto in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft -- is riding a solid streak with Double-A New Hampshire. Romero, who returned from an extended stay on the DL on June 25, has lasted at least seven innings in each of his past three outings, posting a 2.53 ERA in those starts. On Thursday, the left-hander struck out eight and allowed just three hits over 7 1/3 shutout innings, marking his first victory since Aug. 3, 2006.
Did you know? Entering Saturday's afternoon game against the Rangers, the Blue Jays' pitching staff ranked first in the AL with six shutouts, five complete games, a .236 opponents' batting average, and a 3.75 ERA at home this season.
Coming up: Toronto right-hander Dustin McGowan (7-5, 4.36 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound in the finale of a three-game set against Texas at 1:07 p.m. ET on Sunday at Rogers Centre. The Rangers will counter with righty Brandon McCarthy (5-7, 5.18 ERA).
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.