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03/25/08 12:51 PM ET

Jays release veteran catcher Fasano

Barajas' signing left no room for 36-year-old catcher

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- After enduring a frustrating Spring Training with the Blue Jays, veteran catcher Sal Fasano was granted his unconditional release on Tuesday morning.

In December, the 36-year-old Fasano signed a Minor League contract with Toronto, which then signed Rod Barajas to be its backup catcher in January. After arriving in Florida for Spring Training, Fasano said he was under the impression he was signed to be the No. 2 option behind the plate.

"Most guys know the score," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said on Tuesday. "We don't hide anything from them. We told Sal right from the beginning that he was going to be our guy unless we could upgrade. We had a chance to upgrade in Barajas. I said it a long time ago, we're never going to apologize for making our team better.

"Competition shouldn't be something that scares people. It should be something that they embrace. I think there's very few players that should definitely be granted a job. In our case, we tried to upgrade. Sal did a great job for us last year and he's a great guy."

Toronto would've sent Fasano to Triple-A Syracuse, but the catcher recently indicated that he was unwilling to accept a Minor League assignment, especially considering the playing time figured to be scarce. Toronto catching prospects Curtis Thigpen and Robinzon Diaz are going to split time behind the plate for Syracuse.

After Fasano declined the assignment, Toronto agreed to release the catcher so he could pursue work elsewhere. In 12 big league seasons, including a stint with Toronto last year, Fasano has hit .219 with 47 homers and 134 RBIs in 412 games between stops with the Royals, A's, Rockies, Angels, Orioles, Phillies and Yankees.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.