04/10/08 12:41 AM ET
Jays cut reliever Wells before A's finale
Toronto (4-4) vs. Oakland (5-4), Thursday, 7:07 p.m. ET
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
Following Wednesday's 6-3 loss to Oakland, Toronto decided to rework its bullpen, designating Wells for assignment and purchasing the contract of left-hander Jesse Carlson from Triple-A Syracuse. Wells managed a smile when asked about the move, understanding that sometimes that's the way things go for a rookie.
"I kind of saw it coming, being the low man on the totem pole," Wells said. "It's all right. I got a taste."
There's still a chance that Wells could wind up back in Toronto this season, even though his contract situation is a bit more complicated than most players. The Blue Jays claimed the 25-year-old Wells from the Chicago Cubs during December's Rule 5 Draft, which required Toronto to keep the right-hander on its 25-man roster all season.
Now that the Jays have decided to designate Wells for assignment, the club must offer him back to the Cubs for $25,000 -- half the cost of drafting him. The other option is for Toronto to use the next 10 days to try to work out a trade with Chicago in order to keep Wells in the fold.
Whether the Cubs agree to a trade, or simply tell the Jays that they can keep Wells, Toronto must attempt to pass the pitcher through waivers before sending him down to the Minor Leagues. That means that other teams would have an opportunity to claim Wells, though any club that picked him up would also be required to keep him on its active roster.
"Hopefully, things will work out and I can stay here -- they make a trade or whatever," Wells said. "If not, and somebody claims me, I get to stay in the big leagues. If that doesn't happen, I just have to work that much harder."
During Spring Training, the battle for the final spot in the bullpen came down to Wells and the 27-year-old Carlson. In eight spring games, Wells didn't allow a single run, and with the Jays in the regular season, he turned in one shutout inning of relief on Saturday against the Red Sox.
Carlson was nearly as impressive this spring, posting a 0.90 ERA in seven spring games, in which he struck out seven and walked one. The lefty made two appearances at Triple-A this year, giving up no runs over 3 2/3 innings. Last season, Carlson went 8-2 with a 4.86 ERA, 81 strikeouts and 18 walks in 70 1/3 innings with Double-A New Hampshire.
"Jesse almost made the team coming out of Spring Training," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "And we're facing a lot of lefties and we're a little beat up right now. We weren't finding a whole lot of time for Wells. Hopefully, he gets through [waivers], or we can work a deal and we keep him. He did a really nice job for us."
The addition of Carlson adds a third left-hander to Toronto's bullpen, which has already relied heavily on lefties Scott Downs and Brian Tallet through the season's first eight games. Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan, who is coming back from the Tommy John ligament replacement surgery he had on his left elbow in May, is currently rehabbing in the Minors and isn't expected to be back with the Jays until later this month.
In three of the past four games, Toronto relievers have been forced to work at least four innings. That included Wednesday's game against the A's, who victimized the Jays' bullpen with four runs over four frames. Toronto can only hope that starter Shaun Marcum can provide a breather for the relief corps in Thursday's series finale.
Marcum, who will be aiming to salvage a win for the Jays in the final tilt of a six-game homestand, is coming off a strong performance in Friday's home opener against the Red Sox. The 26-year-old right-hander spun seven solid innings, in which he allowed three runs on three hits with eight strikeouts and one walk en route to a win.
The Jays will be given the task of facing left-hander Dana Eveland, who was brilliant in his first outing of the season Saturday against the Indians at McAfee Coliseum. Eveland silenced the Tribe's bats, allowing just one run on six hits in seven innings. The lefty struck out seven batters, tying a career high, and issued one walk.
TOR: RHP Shaun Marcum (1-0, 3.86 ERA)
Marcum has gone 0-1 with a 9.39 ERA in two career starts against Oakland.
Eveland is 3-4 with a 6.94 ERA in 42 career outings, including seven starts. Bird seed
Ryan made his third rehab appearance with Class A Dunedin on Wednesday, striking out two in one shutout inning. Toronto's closer is scheduled to join Triple-A Syracuse later this week. ... Jays right fielder Alex Rios had an infield single on Wednesday night, reaching base in his American League-leading 19th straight game, dating back to last season. ... A's third baseman Jack Hannahan has gone 2-for-2 with one home run and three RBIs in his career against Marcum. Tickets
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Friday: Blue Jays (Jesse Litsch, 1-0, 3.60) at Rangers (Vicente Padilla, 1-0, 2.77), 8:05 p.m. ET
Saturday: Blue Jays (Roy Halladay, 1-1, 4.20) at Rangers (Luis Mendoza, 1-0, 2.25 in 2007), 8:05 p.m. ET
Sunday: Blue Jays (A.J. Burnett, 1-0, 6.75) at Rangers (Jason Jennings, 0-2, 7.45), 3:05 p.m. ET
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.