TORONTO -- Jesse Litsch took the mound Saturday and looked more like the pitcher he was down the stretch for the Blue Jays two seasons ago. That was due to a few changes the pitcher made while working with pitching coach Bruce Walton leading up to the start.
One outing after allowing seven runs in an abbreviated showing against the Rockies, Litsch blanked the Giants for seven innings in Sunday's 3-0 win in Toronto. It was only the second start for Litsch following a year-long recovery from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.
"The first time out, it wasn't the Jesse that we kind of remembered," Walton said. "[On Sunday], he did a really good job of putting guys away. He got ahead of some hitters. Even when he got behind hitters, he made good pitches to get back in counts. He was much more consistent with all his stuff."
In August 2008, the Blue Jays sent Litsch (8-7 with a 4.46 ERA at the time) back to the Minors to rework his approach. The righty concentrated on relying less on his cut fastball, turning more often to a four-seamer and other offspeed options. When Litsch returned to the Jays that season, he went 5-2 with a 1.92 ERA over his final nine starts.
Litsch, who was lost for the season in 2009 after undergoing elbow surgery last June, threw more cutters than Walton hoped to see in his first start back with the Jays in Colorado. Between starts, Walton and Litsch worked once again on reducing the number of cutters the pitcher featured, as well as reducing the cutting action on his changeup.
"We said, 'We don't mind you using the cutter, but let's limit it to 10-12,'" Walton said. "'If you're going to use something offspeed, go to your breaking ball or your slider. Just give us a good mix and do what you did when you were good.' He did. He did exactly that."
Jays say top pick excited to be drafted
TORONTO -- Deck McGuire has not spoken and remains unsigned. Despite how it looks on the surface, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos insisted Sunday that the pitcher was thrilled to be selected by Toronto in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft earlier this month.
"I know a lot was made of that," said Anthopoulos, referring to the fact that McGuire chose not to take part in a media conference call after being picked by the Blue Jays. "His family just felt like overall it's something that is better left to the point that, if he does sign and when he does sign, that's when they would prefer to do it.
"It was definitely not a slight to Toronto and not a slight to the organization. He was pretty excited about being drafted by the organization."
As for signing, Anthopoulos indicated he would not be surprised if negotiations with McGuire went right up until the Aug. 16 deadline. The GM said that is simply the nature of how the process works these days. Last year, the Jays did not sign their first-round pick, Chad Jenkins (20th overall), until two days before the signing deadline.
McGuire, who was added with the 11th overall pick out of Georgia Tech University, will likely wait to see how the market shapes up, as do many of the early-round selections.
"We're going to continue to have dialogue and I expect that to carry out over the course of the summer," Anthopoulos said of the club's unsigned picks. "Maybe as some other players sign, and it starts to solidify the marketplace and [bring] a little bit more clarity, then maybe we can move forward."
A year ago, Jenkins received a signing bonus worth $1.359 million, but was forced to wait until this year to take part in his first professional season. If McGuire waits to sign until close to the deadline, he will likely be headed to instructional league this year before beginning pro ball in 2011.
That scenario is a product of the August deadline and one reason Anthopoulos believes Major League Baseball would benefit from a shorter signing period.
"I'd love to see the deadline pushed up to a week after the Draft or two weeks after the Draft," Anthopoulos said. "I think it would help everybody. I think it would help families. I think it would help colleges. I think it would certainly help Minor League baseball, because some of these players would be out playing, and also help players at well.
"I think those are some of the things that are going to be talked about in the next collective bargaining agreement."
Gaston thinks Jays could beef up with trade
TORONTO -- If the Blue Jays remain within striking distance of a playoff spot over the course of the next month, manager Cito Gaston believes the club will definitely be open to exploring deals as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches.
"Without a doubt we'd be talking about adding someone," Gaston said Sunday, "adding people that probably would help us get over the hump. I know that [team president and CEO Paul Beeston] and [general manager Alex Anthopoulos] and certainly the organization is all for that. But, you've got to make sure you add the right people."
Asked what areas he might want to see upgraded, Gaston pointed to his relief corps. Toronto has boasted strong starting pitching and a powerful offense that revolves around home runs, but the club's bullpen has been inconsistent throughout the season.
"You could always be stronger in the bullpen," Gaston said. "Other than that, everything else is pretty good. We've won ballgames the last two games on home runs and that's what you've got. That's what it is. It's not going to change that much."
Snider unlikely to return before break
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays continue to take a conservative approach with outfielder Travis Snider in his recovery from a right wrist injury. On Sunday, general manager Alex Anthopoulos noted that Snider will likely be sidelined until the season's second half.
"Without giving a specific date," Anthopoulos said, "and I don't think we have one, I think at this point it'd be after the All-Star break. We're getting so close to the All-Star break. He's obviously going to have to get into some rehab games to get his timing down and all that kind of stuff.
"I think it'll be something we'll evaluate at the All-Star break and have a better sense when we get back."
Snider, who was hitting .241 with six home runs and 15 RBIs through 33 games for the Blue Jays, has been on the 15-day disabled list since May 15. The outfielder remains at Toronto's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla., and he has yet to appear in any Minor League rehab games.
Anthopoulos also noted that pitcher Dustin McGowan, who suffered a setback last week in his recovery from a right shoulder surgery, is scheduled to meet with renowned arm specialist Dr. James Andrews on Monday. Toronto wants to consult Andrews about the results of a recent MRI exam on McGowan's arm.
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.