04/08/12 6:05 PM ET
Alvarez, Blue Jays ready for home cooking
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
Right-hander Henderson Alvarez will get the start for the Blue Jays against Boston's Felix Doubront in the home opener on Monday night.
The 21-year-old Alvarez has just 10 big league starts under his belt, but manager John Farrell doesn't expect the young Venezuelan to be intimidated by the sold-out crowd.
"He'll work quick, throw strikes and change speeds," Farrell said of Alvarez, who declined to speak with reporters before his upcoming start. "The one thing that stood out last year when we had first-year guys come to the pitching staff, Alvarez, [Joel] Carreno and Luis Perez, all three handled themselves exceptionally well in the situations they found themselves in.
"I guarantee you everyone in our uniform will be heightened [Monday]. That's the norm with Opening Day, but he's such a good athlete I think he can channel that adrenaline in the right away."
Alvarez began the 2011 season in Class A Dunedin, but by August had advanced through the Minor League system and was on his way to Toronto. The hard-throwing righty recorded six quality starts in 10 outings.
Carreno optioned to Triple-A following start
CLEVELAND -- The Blue Jays optioned right-hander Joel Carreno to Triple-A Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon to make room on the 25-man roster for Aaron Laffey.
Carreno made his first career start in the series finale against Cleveland and proceeded to allow four runs in six innings of work.
The cause for the demotion didn't have anything to do with Carreno's results on the mound but with Toronto not requiring a fifth starter until April 21, he was left on the outside looking in.
"We're afforded the ability to bring in another lefty to put in the bullpen," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "We'll go back to a four-man rotation for the time being ... we're looking forward to Aaron getting here."
Toronto is set to begin a three-game series against Boston following a grueling set against the Indians. In Cleveland, the Blue Jays needed 19 innings from their bullpen and as a result Farrell felt the club needed another rested arm.
That's where Laffey comes in. The veteran pitcher was a candidate for Toronto's starting rotation in Spring Training and will now pitch out of the bullpen.
Laffey surrendered seven runs in just 4 2/3 innings during his first start of the season for Triple-A Las Vegas but left a strong enough impression with Farrell that he earned the promotion.
"He had a rough outing there but the way he threw the ball in Spring Training, the way he threw against the Red Sox, particularly down in Fort Myers, Fla., one evening, it gives us a third left-hander with a very heavily loaded left-handed hitting lineup in Boston," Farrell said.
Laffey went 3-2 with a 3.88 ERA in 53 1/3 innings last season with the Yankees and Mariners.
Arencibia gets break from behind the plate
CLEVELAND -- Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia received his first day off on Sunday afternoon in Cleveland.
Arencibia had caught all 28 innings that were played during the first two games against the Indians. That prompted manager John Farrell to give him a brief period of rest in order to remain fresh for the club's upcoming homestand.
As a result, veteran backstop Jeff Mathis got his first start on Sunday in a Toronto uniform following an offseason trade with the Angels.
"We're going to ride J.P.," Farrell said. "But at the same time, my view at that position -- and not to take anything away from either guy -- that second catcher, it's a two-man position, and we're fortunate we've got a very capable one in Mathis."
Arencibia hit the go-ahead home run on Thursday night that secured Toronto's 7-4 victory in 16 innings. The 26-year-old is 1-for-12 with three RBIs in two games this year.
Mathis, who is known for his defensive work behind the plate, hit just .174 with three home runs and 22 RBIs in 93 games last season with the Angels.
Back issues haven't slowed Lind early on
CLEVELAND -- So far, so good for Adam Lind and the soreness in his back that has become a lingering problem for the past year.
Lind has been able to play in all three of Toronto's games this season and even though he was lifted for a pinch-runner on Thursday evening, he has been able to handle the workload without any issues.
The veteran first baseman was forced to sit out five days late in Spring Training because of tightness in his back. It's something that will be monitored all season long, but hasn't created any need for extended rest.
"The schedule with a day game on Wednesday followed by an off-day, that might be a time where we look to give him a bit of a breather," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "But talking to him every day and monitoring it, he feels loose, he feels free.
"Like we talked about when he came back, we'll monitor the overall volume, but the fact that playing first keeps him warm, keeps him loose, rather than sitting for two or three innings and then he has to go up [as a DH] and take the at-bat."
Reserve outfielder Ben Francisco had been the only Blue Jays player that hadn't appeared in a game this season until he pinch-hit for catcher Jeff Mathis in the top of the ninth in Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Indians.
Francisco, who reached on an error by shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, sustained a strained hamstring during Spring Training, but has been given a clean bill of health.
"He's good to go," Farrell said prior to the game. "Right now he's the only position player that hasn't gotten into a game. That hasn't been because of physical limitations that's just because of game situations."
Francisco hit .244 with six homers and 34 RBIs in 100 games for Philadelphia in 2011.