04/06/2013 2:21 PM ET
Errors taking their toll on pitching staff
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' lack of execution on defense has become one of the early storylines in this young season.
Toronto entered Saturday afternoon's game against the Red Sox having already committed five errors on the season and was very close to receiving at least a few more.
Most of the troubles have been found at third base, where the club is clearly missing the presence of Brett Lawrie. Second base also has been an issue with Emilio Bonifacio struggling to find consistency.
"Defensively we haven't played particularly well this homestand. There's no question about that," manager John Gibbons said. "It doesn't always beat you, but it puts that extra pressure on the pitcher, and you always got your back against the wall. Everybody feels it."
Bonifacio committed two consecutive errors on a pair of ground balls during the fourth inning of Friday night's 6-4 loss to the Red Sox. The end result was an extended inning of work which likely cost right-hander Josh Johnson the ability to go past six frames.
Toronto's bullpen entered play on Saturday having already tossed 14 2/3 innings this year. That was the fourth highest number in the American League, and despite having an eight-man bullpen, the heavy workload has taken its toll.
"We needed some extra innings. The errors cost Josh Johnson maybe an extra inning of work," Gibbons said. "It just keeps adding on and adding on. That's why you'd love to get a blowout type of game and your starter goes six, seven innings and then everything can fall in line."
Bautista sidelined another game with sore right ankle
TORONTO -- Jose Bautista was forced to miss his second consecutive game on Saturday afternoon because of a twisted right ankle.
The Blue Jays delayed the announcement of their lineup prior to a matinee affair against the Red Sox in the hope that Bautista would receive clearance prior to first pitch.
Those hopes were dashed just before noon ET after Bautista went through some light work and was deemed unable to go.
"He still didn't feel quite right this morning," manager John Gibbons said. "It's a long season. No point putting him in a situation to re-aggravate it."
Bautista suffered the injury while attempting to beat out a ground ball during the eighth inning of Thursday night's victory over Cleveland.
There is currently no swelling in the ankle and Bautista has described the injury as soreness rather than pain. The slugger took some swings in the cage early Saturday morning, but he obviously didn't feel good enough to play against the Red Sox.
The Blue Jays can ill afford to lose Bautista for any prolonged period of time. He homered in back-to-back games Wednesday and Thursday and is showing no ill effects from a left wrist injury that prematurely ended his 2013 campaign.
Whenever Bautista does receive clearance to play, he's expected to be eased back into the lineup as a designated hitter.
Bush called up, Jeffress designated for assignment
TORONTO -- The season isn't even a week old, but the Blue Jays have already been forced into making some minor adjustments to their 25-man roster.
The club purchased the contract of right-hander Dave Bush from Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday morning in an attempt to provide a fresh arm to a bullpen that has already been overworked.
To make room on the roster, hard-throwing righty Jeremy Jeffress was designated for assignment. The Blue Jays now have 10 days to trade, release or assign Jeffress, but he must clear waivers prior to being sent to the Minors.
"We needed someone who could chew up some innings," manager John Gibbons said. "Bush almost made the team out of Spring Training. He can do that for us. We're a little beat up. We're good to go today, but we've been a little beat up these first few days."
The writing was on the wall for Jeffress after he struggled to get through the ninth inning of Friday night's 6-4 loss to Boston. He surrendered a solo home run to the first batter he faced and then loaded the bases before escaping the 29-pitch inning without any further damage.
Jeffress, who was acquired in an offseason deal with the Royals, has an impressive arm with the ability to throw in the upper-90s, but so far he has been unable to master it in the Major Leagues.
The 25-year-old has averaged 7.3 walks per nine innings in 38 appearances at the big league level. If Jeffress is able to solve that problem, he could become a valuable reliever. Until that time comes, however, he's not someone that can be relied upon.
"It's kind of in and out with the consistency," Gibbons said. "Some days he's on, he throws a lot of strikes, and that's the key for him. If he ever harnesses that, he has a chance to be a good pitcher. If not, he'll be battling that until he gets it. But we definitely saw progress. It's just, right now at this point we need somebody."
Bush had been out of the Major Leagues since 2011 and spent last season pitching in South Korea. He signed a Minor League deal with Toronto during the offseason and was a late cut from the team in Spring Training.
The 33-year-old was originally drafted by the Blue Jays in 2002 and spent parts of two seasons with the club from 2004-05. He is expected to serve as the long reliever while Toronto carries an eight-man bullpen until Brett Lawrie is able to return from the disabled list later this month.
"I felt like I pitched well," Bush said of his spring. "My goal in camp was to show that I could still get guys out. I didn't have a whole lot of expectations beyond that, other than trying to pitch well and leave a good impression.
"I don't think I expected anything this quickly, but I felt like I put myself in the position that if there was an opportunity I would be ready for it."
• Lawrie resumed hitting late this week, but there is still no timetable for his return. Gibbons originally stated that the hope was for Lawrie to start appearing in Minor League games this weekend, but the manager admitted on Saturday that was overly optimistic.
Lawrie appears to be at least a couple of weeks from returning to the big leagues. He hasn't appeared in game for the past month because of a strained oblique muscle and will need time to get at-bats in the Minors before he is ready.