04/23/09 12:48 AM ET
Gaston mum on Ryan's status
Jays closer struggles to close up shop vs. Rangers
By Jordan Bastian / MLB.com
During Toronto's 8-7 win over Texas on Wednesday night, Ryan bolted out of the bullpen in the top of the ninth inning with a three-run lead working in his favor. The left-hander allowed three runs, blowing his second save in four opportunities, and the Blue Jays needed two more innings to eke out a victory against the Rangers.
In the wake of the loss, Gaston was not willing to say Ryan would get the nod when the next save chance came up.
"I would say it's too early," Gaston said.
Ryan, 33, has appeared in six games this season and has allowed seven runs on eight hits with five walks and four strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings. The stopper's latest performance has pushed his ERA up to 11.12 and represented the second time he has yielded three runs in an outing this season.
The early woes are a continuation of the struggles Ryan experienced throughout Spring Training. Gaston expressed concern of the closer's pitch velocity during the preseason, but Ryan has shown improvement in that area over the past month. Now, the main problem has been Ryan's ability to consistently locate his pitches.
Gaston said he plans on meeting with Ryan and general manager J.P. Ricciardi to discuss the situation. Ryan, who inked a five-year deal worth $47 million with the Jays prior to the 2006 season, is scheduled to earn $10 million this year and next.
"We have to sit down and talk with B.J. and certainly talk with J.P.," Gaston said. "[Ryan] is having trouble with his control, to me. I don't know if he's hurting or not hurting, but we'd certainly like to see him do a little bit better than that. That's not going to get it for us.
"It's just one of those things where we'll sit and talk about it and I'll talk to B.J. myself and see what he feels about what's going on out there."
Ryan had Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery performed on his left elbow in May 2007, but the Blue Jays have indicated that the pitcher has no lingering issues from that injury. Last season, Ryan labored with his command at times, but he still saved 32 games and finished with a 2.95 ERA.
This year, Ryan has had no complaints about his health, but he's worked tirelessly with Toronto pitching coach Brad Arnsberg on his delivery mechanics.
Against Texas on Wednesday, Ryan entered the game and promptly hit Chris Davis with a pitch before issuing a walk to Jarrod Saltalamacchia. A throwing error by Jays second baseman Aaron Hill on a would-be double-play grounder allowed Davis to score and Ian Kinsler later crossed home plate on a groundout by Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton.
The next batter, Texas third baseman Michael Young, launched an 0-1 pitch into the center-field seats for a solo home run that tied the game, 7-7. Had Hill turned a clean double play, the inning might have unfolded differently, but Ryan wasn't about to use that as an excuse.
"You hit the first guy, walk the second guy and you're begging for trouble," Ryan said. "It was a good win by the team to really pick you up, but on my side I was terrible. I was brutal out there -- not pitching ahead, not pitching aggressively -- making stupid pitches at a bad time. It was just a bad night."
It was a reversal of Ryan's showing in his previous three outings, in which he picked up two saves and gave up no runs over three innings of work. In those games, Ryan logged 44 pitches, including 34 for strikes, improving on his first two appearances, when he threw 47 pitches -- 25 for strikes.
"They've been better," said Ryan, referring to his previous three games. "Tonight was just a night that wasn't very good. It's kind of one of the ones that you want to forget."
Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.