TORONTO -- Vernon Wells didn't watch a lot of baseball growing up, but there was always one player for which he would make an exception -- Ken Griffey Jr.
Griffey, who announced his retirement prior to the Mariners' 2-1 win over the Twins on Wednesday, is more than likely a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and in Wells' eyes, one of the best all-around players in baseball history.
"He's a five-tool guy," Wells said. "[He's] possibly the best there was at doing everything on the baseball field, and doing it with ease. Just growing up and watching him play, he was kind of the guy that when you're a kid you want to be like."
Wells recalls just how starstruck he was the first time he met Griffey.
"I got called up in 1999," Wells said. "I think it was the first year Safeco [Field] was open. I remember jogging out to the outfield and he was jogging in, and he stopped and talked to me right in the middle of the field. It's a moment that I obviously still remember now, and I'll never forget it."
While Wells and Griffey talk on a more frequent basis these days, Wells said the impression Griffey had on him growing up is something that will never get old.
"He was someone that I tried to emulate," Wells said. "It was a right-handed hitter, bit it was kind of the way he played the game. He always had a smile on his face, always had a blast playing the game.
"Hopefully we'll be hearing his name again in five years."
Jays can use Gregg, but Gaston all for rest
TORONTO -- Despite closer Kevin Gregg's recent struggles, manager Cito Gaston insisted that no alarms have been set off, and that Gregg -- who threw 40 pitches on Tuesday -- is available to pitch in Friday's contest against the Yankees.
That being said, Gaston said he wouldn't mind giving the big right-handed closer one more day to recharge the batteries.
"It's a long year," Gaston said. "I consider that I had a pretty good arm when I was playing, and when I took a day off from throwing, taking infield and stuff, my arm got stronger. I hear all this stuff about throwing every day, and all this stuff that makes you better, and I firmly don't believe in it. A lot of people do, but I don't.
"[I'd like to] give his arm a little more rest, but he's ready to go. Let's hope that we have to use him, it means we're winning."
Pitching on consecutive days has been a serious problem for Gregg this season. Gregg's last save opportunity, in which he coughed up four runs in Tuesday 7-6 loss to the Rays, came one day after he pitched a scoreless ninth frame. His splits when pitching on back-to-back days are not pretty -- an 0-2 record over 5 1/3 innings, with a 13.50 ERA.
Gaston said that while Gregg's velocity is fine, it's his lack of control on the second day that is disconcerting. Gregg has issued 10 of his 15 walks, with all three of his blown saves occurring when pitching consecutive days. In spite of the poor contrast, Gaston said he would only consider not throwing Gregg on back-to-back nights, if his pitch count on the previous night exceeded 25 to 30 pitches.
On the season, Gregg has recorded 15 saves, boasting a 4.50 ERA over 24 innings pitched.
Tallet to fill out Jays' starting five for now
TORONTO -- It went from unlikely, to uncertain, to undoubtedly -- the Blue Jays have finally settled upon using a five-man rotation until the All-Star break.
After throwing a stellar 5 2/3 inning shutout against the Rays on Tuesday, it appears Brian Tallet is the lucky recipient of a few more starts in the Jays' rotation. Jesse Litsch, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, was thought to be called up to fill the No. 5 spot, but manager Cito Gaston said he would like to see more consistency from Litsch at Triple-A Las Vegas before he rejoins the big league club.
With four off-days in June, Gaston acknowledges that the extra days of rest may disrupt his starters' rhythm, but said in the long run it will benefit the club.
"[I have put] a lot of thought into it," Gaston said. "The guys are going to be thrown off quite a bit, but we're trying to get them through the whole season.
"You got one guy coming off Tommy John, you don't want anyone else to come out with it. We're just trying to protect the young guys here, and some of them are going to have seven days, some will have six days. That's just the way the month of June is going to be."
Tallet's next start will be Tuesday against the Rays.
James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.