04/26/2013 8:26 PM ET
Gibbons has tough bullpen decisions to make
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
NEW YORK -- The lack of innings being thrown by the rotation has led to a lot of headaches for manager John Gibbons when it comes to deciding how to properly use his bullpen.
Toronto has received only two outings from its starters that have lasted at least seven innings. The rotation entered play on Friday night having thrown 126 1/3 innings, seventh in the American League.
The by-product of that is the bullpen being forced to throw 81 2/3 innings, which trails only the Astros for the most in the AL. That has Gibbons and the front office debating about whether to go with an eight-man bullpen.
"It's something we might have to do," Gibbons said. "It definitely hasn't gone as planned, put it that way. We've had to use that 'pen a lot, we'll see how everything goes.
"Some of the guys on the team, it's tough to just discard guys, too, you know? We'll be fine. With that day off Monday, if R.A. pitches Sunday, we'll be in good shape."
The transition to an eight-man bullpen will be easier said than done. Designated hitter Adam Lind is set to rejoin the club on Sunday after taking a brief leave of absence following the birth of his second child.
That will require another transaction after the promotion of right-hander Brad Lincoln from Triple-A to fill Lind's spot on the 25-man roster. When Lind does return, that would give the Blue Jays a four-man bench with Mark DeRosa, Emilio Bonifacio, Rajai Davis and backup catcher Henry Blanco.
There aren't a lot of suitable options there -- unless right-hander Josh Johnson needs to go on the disabled list -- and Gibbons may be forced into sticking with the status quo despite the stress it has caused the pitching staff.
"There's a lot of games where we're using guys just to use them. There's really no strategy or anything like that, we've got to cover some innings here," he said. "That takes its toll. Ideally, you use certain guys when you're winning, certain guys when you're even, that kind of thing."
JJ misses start with triceps tightness; Laffey subs
NEW YORK -- Right-hander Josh Johnson was forced to miss Friday night's start against the Yankees because of tightness in his right triceps.
Toronto's No. 4 starter first experienced discomfort in the area following his previous outing against New York, last Sunday. He woke up the next morning and realized something wasn't quite right.
He skipped his bullpen session later in the week with the hope that a brief period of rest would be enough to recover, but he was deemed unable to go late Thursday night.
"I've been on the other side of this before, where hopefully I'll be back in a couple of weeks or whatever, and it ends up being five months," Johnson said of the reasoning behind taking a cautious approach. "Hopefully, it won't be that. While I'm walking around and doing everything else, I don't feel it.
"When you start throwing, right when you release the ball, it feels like someone's poking you with their finger. It doesn't really hurt, but if you end up pulling a muscle back there, it can set you back a long time."
Johnson described the pain as being centered on the area where his biceps and triceps join. He's been forced to deal with a number of elbow and shoulder injuries throughout his career but said this is the first time something has popped up in this particular area.
The 29-year-old was sent for a precautionary MRI on Friday afternoon but is confident this will remain a relatively minor injury. Johnson is hopeful that he can avoid a stint on the 15-day disabled list, and intends to make his next start, which is tentatively scheduled for May 2 against Boston.
Left-hander Aaron Laffey got the call in place of Johnson. Laffey started twice for the Mets earlier this season before being claimed on waivers.
The injury couldn't have come at a worse time for the Jays. No. 1 starter R.A. Dickey is trying to battle through an injury to his upper back and neck, and the bullpen has been constantly overworked because of the lack of innings being thrown by the starters.
"It's tough no matter when it is," said Johnson, who is 0-1 with a 6.86 ERA in four starts. "You never want to miss any starts. How bad we're going right now, that's one of the [concerns], but I had pretty much everyone come up and tell me to be smart.
"[They said], 'Be smart, we want you here in September and October and not right now, not as important.' ... I'm thinking about being smart for once in my life and missing this, but I don't want it to linger on."
Gibbons tinkers lineup, slots Rasmus at No. 2
NEW YORK -- Manager John Gibbons continued to tinker with his lineup, and on Friday night opted to move center fielder Colby Rasmus into the No. 2 spot of the batting order.
The move paid off, with Rasmus connecting on an RBI single in the third inning.
It's the 21st lineup the Blue Jays have used in 24 games. That's not exactly how Gibbons intended to operate, but he has been left with little choice following injuries to Jose Reyes, Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie.
"Personally, I don't ever like to do too much of it," Gibbons said. "I think we've been pretty constant with guys in the middle. When Reyes went down, of course, you've got to do something, tinker a little bit, probably not any more than normal. It's not like we're scrambling; we're trying to find the best combo somehow."
Rasmus became very familiar with the No. 2 spot last season. He started there 91 times under former manager John Farrell and enjoyed a six-week stretch in which he was one of the most valuable outfielders in the game.
In total, Rasmus hit .235 with 20 homers and 57 RBIs while batting second. He'll now settle in just in front of Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, with the hope being it'll lead to increased overall production.
"We were sitting around talking about it with some of the coaches. We thought, 'You know what? It might be a good spot for him,'" Gibbons said.
"We're constantly talking about some lineup changes. You never want to do a whole lot of tinkering with your lineup, but we were thinking put him up top there. He's got Bautista and Encarnacion coming behind him, and if he gets guys on, he's a dead-pull hitter, [he can] open up some holes, maybe get some fastballs. We'll see."