02/28/12 4:50 PM EST
Litsch shut down with shoulder inflammation
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
Litsch paid a visit to renowned surgeon, Dr. James Andrews, on Monday after experiencing continued soreness in the area, and the initial test results appeared to provide some encouraging news.
"Upon the examination, it did reveal and confirm that it was inflammation," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "At least at this point, nothing structurally, but we felt it was the best course to take the time down now to get over it and then build back up."
The injury is the latest in a series of setbacks for Litsch in recent seasons. In 2009, he underwent Tommy John surgery and last season he spent 54 days on the disabled list with an impingement in his right shoulder.
Litsch entered camp looking to compete for one of the final spots in the bullpen against Carlos Villanueva, Luis Perez and Rick VandenHurk. The injury likely will make it difficult for Litsch to make a strong case for himself and even if healthy, he likely will begin the season with Triple-A Las Vegas.
The 26-year-old Litsch first started experiencing soreness in his right shoulder late in the offseason, but didn't think much of it at the time.
"The bullpens leading up to Spring Training, and even the first couple of bullpens, he didn't feel like it was anything that was going to be to the point of shutting him down," Farrell said. "I think as time went on, and the intensity started to pick up a little bit, I think he felt like the recovery wasn't there with just one day off and felt like it was best to say something now, get it checked and then proceed as planned based on Dr. Andrews' recommendation."
Litsch began last year in the starting rotation, but transitioned to the bullpen following his shoulder ailment. He went 6-3 with a 4.44 ERA in 75 innings at the big league level and possesses a 4.16 ERA in parts of five seasons in the big leagues.
Villanueva progressing nicely after hospital visit
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Carlos Villanueva continues to make progress in his return from a right-hand injury that might have been related to a circulation problem.
Villanueva woke up Saturday morning with a cold sensation in his right hand and was forced to go through a series of tests at a local hospital. He has since been placed on medication that acts like a blood thinner and he appears to have made progress.
The 28-year-old played catch for the second consecutive day on Tuesday morning and didn't feel any lingering results from the scary incident.
"We would hope that tomorrow, when he comes in after today's throwing program, that he would be capable of getting back on the mound," Blue Jays manager John Farrell told a group of reporters on Tuesday afternoon. "Provided that is the case, tomorrow is a bullpen, then the next progression would be tentatively planned for batting practice on Friday to get back into the flow of things and not be set back too far."
Villanueva has been the favorite to win one of the final two spots in Toronto's bullpen this spring. The Dominican native went 6-4 with a 4.04 ERA in 20 appearances out of the bullpen and 13 starts in 2011.
The veteran right-hander was acquired prior to last year in an offseason deal with the Brewers for cash considerations. Villanueva is 26-28 with a 4.28 ERA in his career.
Baserunning remains a top priority for Farrell
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- One of the Blue Jays' top priorities during last year's Spring Training was to be more aggressive on the basepaths, and that work has carried over into 2012.
Manager John Farrell set out to change the culture of his team last season during his first year as manager in Toronto. He previously felt the club was too reliant on home runs and wanted to become more active in the running game.
That line of thinking translated to finishing sixth in the American League with 131 stolen bases last season, but the focus this spring isn't so much on stealing as it is on trying to take the extra base.
The Blue Jays dedicated a large portion of Tuesday morning's workouts to running the bases in simulated game scenarios. Third-base coach Brian Butterfield ran the drill that involved grounders and fly balls with runners on base.
"We combined a conditioning drill at the same time we're working on our reads," Farrell said. "We set out a foundation with the baserunning to one, get their feet in shape, making their turns, making sure they're as efficient as possible. We also built in the use of some fly-ball reads and these are the basics of Spring Training.
"We feel like it's one of the areas that attention to detail is required and the number of reps that we have to go through to accomplish that. But also, at the same time, it builds into the mindset and the aggressiveness that we're trying to use in the game to put the pressure on the defense and always looking for opportunities to take the extra base."
• Blue Jays hitting coach Dwayne Murphy is currently not in camp because he is attending to a personal matter.
•Toronto opened a mini-camp for a large group of prospects on Tuesday afternoon at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. It's the second consecutive year that the Blue Jays have opted to hold the optional camp. Top prospects Jake Marisnick and Noah Syndergaard were among those in attendance.