08/11/08 11:01 PM ET
Richmond to 'pen as Jays recall Litsch
Odd-man-out Parrish optioned to Triple-A to make room
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
On Monday night, Toronto pulled Richmond from its starting staff and moved him to the bullpen -- a move that might also raise a few eyebrows north of the border. But, just as Richmond insisted that being called to the Jays fulfilled his lifelong dream, he said pitching in relief was better than the alternative.
"I'm just happy I'm still here, obviously," Richmond said.
Richmond remained with the Blue Jays -- a move that should at least avoid any more controversy regarding the ongoing Olympics -- but left-hander John Parrish can't claim as much. Parrish was optioned to Triple-A Syracuse, and right-hander Jesse Litsch was recalled to replace Richmond in the rotation.
In light of the moves, the Blue Jays retooled their rotation. Following his brief stint with Syracuse, Litsch is scheduled to start in the finale of the current four-game set against the Tigers on Thursday. Toronto ace Roy Halladay will be pushed back to Friday in order to start in Boston against the rival Red Sox.
"It gives Doc another day off," said Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston, who allowed Halladay to throw a career-high 130 pitches on Saturday. "It also gives him a chance to pitch against somebody we're trying to catch."
As for the 28-year-old Richmond -- a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia -- Gaston said the switch to relief work was not the result of anything the pitcher did wrong. Gaston said Litsch, who opened the season as the club's fifth starter, worked on the issues he was asked to correct in the Minors and was ready to rejoin the team.
"He's pitching well down there," Gaston said. "We sent him down there to work on something and it seems like he's worked it out, hopefully."
The Jays wanted Litsch to focus on throwing his two-seam sinking fastball to both sides of the plate, relying less on his cutter. In three starts with Triple-A Syracuse, the 23-year-old went 1-1 with a 3.60 ERA, striking out 18 and walking four over 20 innings. With the Jays this season, Litsch is 8-7 with a 4.46 ERA in 20 outings.
In nine starts from June 4 to July 21, though, Litsch labored, posting a 1-6 record with a 6.12 ERA and a .318 batting average against. It was a drastic contrast to his first 11 appearances, when he went 7-1 with a 3.18 ERA, while limiting batters to a .264 batting average.
Richmond wasn't able to pick up his first big league victory in any of the three starts he made for the Blue Jays. Since being promoted from Syracuse on July 28, he went 0-2 with a 5.06, allowing exactly three runs in each of his outings.
Richmond noted that he did have some experience as a reliever. Prior to signing with the Blue Jays as a non-drafted free agent during the offseason, Richmond spent the previous three years pitching for the Edmonton Cracker Cats in the Independent League. Richmond said that he spent some of those seasons coming out of the bullpen and he was willing to do it again for the Jays.
"Whatever I can do to help the team win, that's what I'm here to do," he said. "If it means me going to the bullpen to help out in there, then that's what I'm going to do and try my best at that. I've done it before."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.