Foot injury forces Downs to DL
Accardo recalled from Triple-A to fill bullpen spot
OAKLAND -- Scott Downs had not complained about his left foot over the past few weeks. Knowing the type of competitor Downs has been for the Blue Jays, though, manager Cito Gaston believes the closer might have been pitching through some discomfort.
"Probably," Gaston said.
On Sunday, Toronto placed Downs on the 15-day disabled list after the left-hander aggravated the same left foot injury that cost him 19 games in June and July. Jason Frasor will slide into the ninth-inning role once again, and the Blue Jays recalled right-hander Jeremy Accardo to fill Downs' spot in the bullpen.
Since being activated on July 8, Downs had turned in an inconsistent string of performances. His command wasn't sharp, and opposing hitters took advantage to a tune of a .407 batting average over Downs' past six appearances. On Saturday night, Downs reinjured the big toe on his left foot in another rough ninth-inning showing.
Gaston feels Downs came back too soon the last time he hurt his foot. This time, the manager isn't sure how long it will be before the pitcher returns.
"We want to make sure he's healthy this time when he comes back," Gaston said. "I'm not sure [when he'll be back]. It won't be any time soon."
Downs, who took over as the club's closer in April due to the struggles of former Blue Jays pitcher B.J. Ryan, originally hurt his foot on June 16 during an Interleague game on the road against the Phillies. Batting for himself in the 10th inning, Downs stumbled out of the batter's box after grounding out.
Prior to the injury, Downs had fashioned a 1.98 ERA out of the bullpen, giving the Jays a reliable ninth-inning stopper. Things had not been going nearly as well since he returned. Over his past six outings, Downs went 0-3, blew two saves and posted a 12.60 ERA, allowing seven earned runs on 11 hits with five walks in five innings. During that span, Downs' season ERA climbed to 3.41 from 1.84.
Blue Jays pitching coach Brad Arnsberg said he was not able to pinpoint what was going wrong.
"I didn't really see anything," Arnsberg said. "His sinker had lost a little bit of its life, but his velocities were fine. He wasn't hitting the zone as much as you see Scotty do. This guy has an unbelievable ability to throw the ball right where he wants to throw it nine times out of 10. When he came back, he wasn't able to do that.
"I didn't really see mechanical flaws, or anything like nursing his toe or anything that got my dander up as far as, 'Boy, we need to make an adjustment.' I just think that box that we try to throw the ball in, and play with those edges, became a little bit bigger and he fell behind in counts."
Frasor, who has posted a 2.09 ERA in 42 games for the Jays this season, served as the interim closer during Downs' first stay on the DL. Frasor, who has four saves this season, notched 17 saves for Toronto as a rookie in 2004. On days Frasor is unable to pitch, Gaston said Brandon League also could see time in the ninth inning.
Accardo returns after being optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday, when the Jays acquired right-hander Josh Roenicke from the Reds in the trade that sent third baseman Scott Rolen to Cincinnati. Accardo had 72 hours to report to Vegas, but he still was in San Francisco when the Blue Jays opted to place Downs on the shelf.
Gaston also held Marco Scutaro out of the starting lineup on Sunday to give the shortstop some time to rest a sore right heel. Gaston said the minor injury has been bothering Scutaro for a while, but it has not been serious enough to sideline the shortstop. With an off-day on Monday, Gaston felt it was a good time to keep Scutaro on the bench.
"He's willing to play, but I can tell it's bothering him out there," Gaston said. "I could tell that up in Seattle [earlier this week]. He's played through it, and we just thought today would be a good day for him to get some rest."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.