TORONTO -- Bloodlines and reputation run deep in Major League Baseball. It is not uncommon to see the son of a coach, brother of a player, or son of a former player get drafted by the same team.
On Wednesday evening, the Blue Jays' bloodlines got even thicker, as they selected Ricky Romero's brother, Gabriel, in the 47th round of the 2010 First Year Player Draft.
Much like his old brother, who is eight years his senior, Gabriel is also a pitcher -- although right-handed. The two siblings both attended the same high school, Theodore Roosevelt in California.
"I'm happy for him, and I'm proud of him," Romero said, prior to the Blue Jays' game against the Rays.
While Gabriel was not nearly as highly touted as his older brother -- drafted sixth overall by the Blue Jays in 2005 -- Jays scouting director Andrew Tinnish said he is looking forward to seeing more of the younger Romero.
"I don't know too much about him," Tinnish said. "He's a guy that we're probably just going to keep tabs on in the summer and see what happens from there."
Lewis sent to Triple-A; Litsch recalled
ST. PETERSBURG -- Before the start of Wednesday's contest against the Rays, the Blue Jays optioned left-handed pitcher Rommie Lewis to Triple-A Las Vegas and reinstated right-hander Jesse Litsch, who will start on Sunday at Colorado against the Rockies.
Litsch, recovering from Tommy John surgery, was due to come off the 60-day disabled list this week and Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said the decision to send Lewis down was in conjunction with Litsch's availability. In addition, Gaston has moved Brian Tallet, who gave up five runs in four innings of Tuesday's 9-0 loss, to the bullpen to replace Lewis, who did not fare well on Tuesday either, giving up four runs and four hits in 1 2/3 innings.
"We think it will make us a better club and will make our bullpen better," Gaston said. "I hope Jesse comes back pitching like he did when he left before he got hurt [in 2009]. When he came back from the Minors in 2008, he was just as good as [Roy Halladay] that year, so I hope he comes back just as good."
In that season, he posted an 8-7 record with a 4.46 ERA in 20 games (19 starts) before being optioned to Syracuse on July 24. When he returned to the Majors on August 12, he went 5-2 with a 1.92 ERA in nine starts, holding opponents to a .201 batting average and tossing 40 strikeouts and 18 walks in 61 innings.
Last year, the 25-year-old righty made only two starts before being placed on the disabled list April 14 with a right forearm strain. Litsch underwent Tommy John surgery on June 12 and has been working his way back to full strength at the Bobby Mattick Training Center at Engelbert Complex in Dunedin, Fla.
"It's been a long time coming," said Litsch, who went 0-3 with a 8.18 ERA in four starts with Triple-A Las Vegas and 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA with Class A Dunedin during his rehab stint this season. "I'm really happy to finally be back. My velocity's there and my control is there, too. The box scores don't show how well I feel and how well the ball's coming out of my hand."
"We have some excellent catchers down here and they've really helped me work on getting back into true form. I developed a good rapport with them, and I was able to work on things to get me back pitching where I feel confident about my game."
Gaston emphasized the similar point, saying that pitchers on assignment are working on different things as well as dealing with several variables.
"Pitchers don't have the same defense down there, and they're not able to use the same catchers they normally would up here," Gaston said. "I think they're working on things, trying to get their pitch to where they need it to be. From what I've heard at Vegas, the ground's hard, it's hot, so you have that to deal with."
Litsch will take Tallet's spot in the rotation for now, with Tallet providing help in the bullpen until the Blue Jays make another roster move to add to the roster, which curiously has just 22 players on it due to the absences of John McDonald and Alex Gonzalez. McDonald is away in Connecticut to be with family during his father's illness, and Gonzalez is set to return sometime during Wednesday's game after being away for personal reasons.
"It wasn't easy for me to tell [Tallet] he's going back to the bullpen," Gaston said. "It had nothing to do with last night, because I thought he pitched pretty good until he got tired, got sick, hit a wall. I'm comfortable either way with him. He's done whatever we've asked of him. I know he's not happy with it, but he's not going to complain."
Interestingly enough, Gaston said the possibility is there that Tallet and/or Lewis could be dealt in a trade in the near future.
"There's other teams that are looking at him, too, and as I told Lewis when he went out, that other teams know you and we need [Lewis] to go out and work on the changeup, curveball a little bit," Gaston said. "Lewis is a great kid, but he knows he's not a part of the blueprint we have going on here as far as being a starter. We have so many young guys here, but he can certainly be a part of this team. We wouldn't want to lose him, but you never know. He might fit in a trade somewhere."
For Litsch, Colorado will be as perfect a place to return as any.
"I have a lot of family there, so it's going to be exciting in many ways," Litsch said. "My whole mom's side of the family is there, and my uncle, who had a massive stroke a couple years ago, will be able to attend the game. So it's going to be special for me and my family."
Gaston: Stay focused on 'blueprint'
ST. PETERSBURG -- With Jesse Litsch returning to the rotation and Brian Tallet going to the bullpen, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston spoke before Wednesday's game about how important it is to stay focused on keeping with "the blueprint." That blueprint rests squarely on developing the wealth of young arms in the organization.
"It's all about building a young rotation," Gaston said when asked if Tallet's outing on Tuesday (four innings, six hits, five runs) had anything to do with the 32-year-old left-hander moving to the bullpen. "The next guy I'd like to see pitch up here is [Marc Rzepczynski]. It might be September in the rotation, the bullpen, who knows. He could do a good job for us."
The 24-year-old Rzepczynski made 11 starts after being called up last season in July. The 6-foot-3 left-hander set a franchise record with seven strikeouts in his Major League debut, a no-decision in the Blue Jays' 3-1 loss despite allowing one run on two hits in six innings.
Rzepczynski finished the 2009 season 2-4 with a 3.67 ERA and was expected to compete for one of the starting spots in the rotation. But the California native suffered a left hand injury after taking a ball off it during a Spring Training game late in March. The Blue Jays placed Rzepczynski on the 15-day disabled list on April 4, retroactive to March 31, with a fractured left middle finger.
Rzepczynski is 1-2 with a 9.64 ERA in five starts with Triple-A Las Vegas during his rehab assignment.
Purcey factors into roster decisions
ST. PETERSBURG -- Manager Cito Gaston said one of the biggest deciding factors in sending Rommie Lewis down to the Minors was the performance of David Purcey during Tuesday's game. Purcey entered the 9-0 blowout in the eighth inning and, after allowing a hit to Evan Longoria, retired the side with a groundout, flyout and a strikeout.
"I thought Purcey came in and pitched well," Gaston said. "He's a kid who's going to be out of options next year so we need to decide what we're going to do with him."
Purcey has appeared in just two games this year, and the opposition is 1-for-7 against him. He was recalled from Las Vegas after going 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in 17 relief appearances.
The 28-year-old lefty has compiled a 4-9 record with a 5.81 ERA in 21 starts over two seasons with the Blue Jays.
McDonald given time off he needs
ST. PETERSBURG -- Manager Cito Gaston said the team will let John McDonald have as much time as he needs to be with his family. McDonald has been away from the Blue Jays since Friday to be with his father, who is seriously ill. He went to Connecticut to be with his parents after his father, Jack, who has cancer, began feeling worse.
Gaston would not say if or when the team would put McDonald on bereavement leave.
Also, Gaston said that Alex Gonzalez, who left the team for personal reasons Monday, would return sometime during Wednesday's game.
Richmond to start rehab Thursday
ST. PETERSBURG -- Scott Richmond, who has been working his way back from a nagging right shoulder injury, spoke to the media before Wednesday's game and said he will begin his rehabilitation assignment Thursday in Dunedin, Fla.
The 30-year-old right-hander said he will make three starts with the Class A affiliate, then two with Double-A New Hampshire and one with Triple-A Las Vegas before the club takes the next step.
"It's feeling a lot better," said Richmond, who is a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia. "They wanted me to get it right, get it so it doesn't happen again."
Richmond said that he had issues with the shoulder blades rubbing against the labrum where he couldn't rotate the arm back. Instead of surgery, the team decided to have him use therapy to strengthen the arm.
"There was a lot of scapula exercises I did to be free and clear again," said Richmond, who was sidelined for most of July last season and continued to have problems with the shoulder when he returned from the disabled list down the stretch last year.
Chris Girandola is a contributor to MLB.com. James Hall is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.