Notes: Ryan begins light throwing
Closer works for first time since May's elbow surgery
TORONTO -- B.J. Ryan's comeback has been set in motion. Earlier this week, the Blue Jays closer began throwing a baseball for the first time since undergoing reconstructive surgery on his left elbow in May.
"He started to do really light tossing," Toronto general manager J.P. Ricciardi said on Saturday. "It's nothing to get too excited about in the sense that he's on a mound or anything. But he's right where he should be. He's right on schedule."
When exactly that schedule calls for an official return to Toronto's bullpen remains to be seen. Ryan was sidelined by the elbow injury in April and the left-hander's season came to an abrupt halt on May 10, when he had a Tommy John elbow ligament replacement operation performed by Dr. Timothy Kremcheck in Cincinnati.
In Ryan's absence, the Blue Jays turned to 25-year-old right-hander Jeremy Accardo, who has proved to be a reliable replacement. Since assuming closing duties on May 12, Accardo has posted a 3.32 ERA with 26 saves in 30 chances. Last year, Ryan posted a 1.37 ERA and recorded 38 saves in 42 opportunities.
As a group, Toronto's bullpen entered Saturday ranked second in the American League with a 3.31 ERA and a .230 opponents' batting average. That showing, along with the performance by Accardo, has convinced the Jays that they have options if Ryan's rehab lasts into the early months of next season.
"It's allowing us to have a little more patience," Ricciardi said. "It gives you a little more comfort, knowing that we have a couple guys who can do the job in certain areas. When he's right, he's right, whether that's in April or in May or whenever. There's a little bit of a comfort level there."
Ricciardi added that Ryan was scheduled to head to Toronto during the next homestand to throw in front of the team's medical staff. The Blue Jays signed the 31-year-old left-hander to a five-year deal worth $47 million prior to last season. Ryan is owed $30 million over the next three seasons.
Kennedy coming: On Tuesday, the Jays plan on promoting left-hander Joe Kennedy from Triple-A Syracuse, where he was sent after signing a Minor League deal with Toronto on Aug. 28.
The Jays are interested in seeing if Kennedy can be useful as a situational lefty out of the bullpen. The 28-year-old southpaw is 3-9 with a 4.77 ERA in 30 games, including 16 starts, between stints with Oakland and Arizona this year. Kennedy has limited left-handed hitters to a .207 average.
"He's more like a one-month trial for us," Ricciardi said. "We'll get him up here and see what he can do and see if he can help us -- if he's in the picture for next year. It'll be a chance for us to get to know him. He's a free agent, so it's kind of an audition."
Toronto manager John Gibbons said adding Kennedy would also help lighten the workload of left-hander Scott Downs, who has posted a 2.32 ERA in 68 games for the Jays this season. Ricciardi added that he liked the prospect of having a third left-hander in the 'pen to go with Downs and Brian Tallet.
Welcome back: The Blue Jays recalled outfielder Adam Lind from Triple-A on Saturday, when rosters expanded to 40 players. Lind spent 73 games with Toronto earlier this season while left fielder Reed Johnson was on the disabled list.
The rookie hit .230 with eight home runs and 30 RBIs in his first stint with the Jays this season. In 46 games with Syracuse, Lind hit .299 with six homers and 28 RBIs. Gibbons will work Lind and Matt Stairs into left field to spell Johnson on occasion this month.
"He's going to play," Gibbons said about Lind. "You really can't say exactly how much he'll play, but he's going to play. He did a lot of really good things for us earlier in the year. It's not like he was a guy who was up here for just a couple of weeks."
Going deep: The Blue Jays launched three home runs on Friday night, giving the club eight long balls over the past three games. Toronto had eight home runs through the first 19 games in August. The Jays' 20 homers in the month ranked 26th in the Majors.
"That's such a big part of our offense -- the long ball," Gibbons said. "Coming in, that's kind of the way we were built. We've been a little bit dry. Maybe we can get on a little streak here and maybe the offense can just explode in this final month."
First things first: Over the past 11 games, Toronto has yielded 14 runs in the first inning. The Jays have given up runs in the opening frame in seven of their past eight games and in each of the past three.
Quotable: "They've been as consistent as they could be -- they really have. You look at it and they've all been great. That's an area that really could've exploded on us." -- Gibbons, on the bullpen's performance in Ryan's absence
Coming up: Toronto right-hander A.J. Burnett (7-7, 3.70 ERA) is slated to take the hill when the Blue Jays host the Mariners in the finale of a three-game set at 1:07 p.m. ET on Sunday at Rogers Centre. Seattle will counter with righty Jeff Weaver (6-10, 5.62 ERA).
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.