5/29/2013 7:47 P.M. ET
Blue Jays call up three relievers for taxed bullpen
By Jon Cooper / Special to MLB.com
ATLANTA -- There was a lot of Blue Jays-related traffic headed to Atlanta Tuesday night following the conclusion of the Blue Jays' two-game set with the Atlanta Braves in addition to the team's charter.
The Blue Jays called up a trio of pitchers, righty reliever Neil Wagner, lefty reliever Juan Perez and righty starter/long-reliever Todd Redmond following the game. They also sent righty reliever Thad Weber to Triple-A Buffalo and designated righty Ramon Ortiz for assignment.
The influx of pitchers coming to Atlanta was a result of Toronto having to use its already exhausted bullpen the final eight innings of the 7-6, 10-inning loss on Tuesday, after starter Brandon Morrow left the game after two innings with forearm pain.
"You look at tonight's game, it's really a game of survival," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We're so beat up in the 'pen, with [Esmil] Rogers, he's limited in what he can do tonight, anyway. So we brought up three guys. There's a good chance all three of them are going to pitch."
Rogers is making his first start as a Blue Jay and his 23rd appearance of the season. His longest outing has been three innings, something he's done twice. Fortunately, it's in his last two outings, against Tampa Bay on May 21 and Baltimore on May 24. He didn't allow a run and surrendered only five hits total.
Still, Gibbons is scaling down his expectations for his starter.
"You really don't know. Five innings would probably stretch it," he said. "It all depends on how many pitches he throws. We'll see. They're a free-swinging club. Hopefully that will help out, get some early quick innings and we'll see where he's at."
Gibbons has confidence in the new arrivals. Wagner, 29, has a 1-0 record with a 0.89 ERA, allowing 10 hits, while striking out 32 in 20 1/3 innings at Triple-A. Perez, 34, also has been dominant at Buffalo, pitching to a 0.86 ERA in 17 appearances, all in relief, he's allowed 12 hits in 21.0 innings, striking out 25 and walking 11.
While both have the stuff to be closers, the Blue Jays aren't looking past Wednesday, where they'll look for them to go a little longer.
"Wagner's gone three before, Perez has gone 2 1/3, 2 2/3," said GM Alex Anthopoulos. "Ideally they'd be one-inning guys in a perfect scenario, but they have gone two or three in the past. The way that the bullpen is a little bit taxed, they may need to go two or three tonight."
In case things go less than perfect, Redmond is a starter, who actually came up through the Atlanta Braves system, getting as high as Triple-A Gwinnett before being traded to Cincinnati last year. He's since pitched with Baltimore and was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays on March 22nd.
Redmond, who has had to deal with shoulder impingement this season, has made one start with Triple-A Buffalo and has a 1-0 record and 9.53 ERA. For his career, he is 72-61 in 209 games, 201 starts with a 3.60 ERA.
"It's more length. He's a guy that's built up to start," said Anthopoulos. "He's done it before. He throws strikes. He's fresh, we needed length and he's one guy who we knew no matter what could give us length and throw strikes."
Toronto's bullpen comes into action Wednesday night having thrown 189 1/3 innings, second in the Majors, behind only Houston.
Lawrie heads to DL with left ankle sprain
Second base has not been kind to the Toronto Blue Jays this year, especially when they're sliding in.
Back on April 12th in Kansas City, shortstop Jose Reyes badly sprained his left ankle after an awkward slide into the base. He's been out ever since, although he has regained his speed and could be back by mid-June, according to general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
Now the second-base bag has claimed the player who'd normally play to Reyes' left, third baseman Brett Lawrie, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left ankle sprain. Maicer Izturis started at third base for Toronto Wednesday night against Atlanta.
On Monday night, Lawrie sprained his left ankle, in the sixth inning of the Blue Jays' 9-3 win over Atlanta at Rogers Centre, while trying to steal second base. He stayed in the game but was replaced later in the inning for a pinch-runner.
"He came in [Monday] night, the doctors ruled out a fracture and he might be able to play [Tuesday]," Anthopoulos said. "During the game yesterday his ankle started to swell up a little bit. Obviously it wasn't moving in the direction that everybody hoped. So we decided to get an MRI and it showed it was a lot more severe. So you're looking at two weeks, maybe three, just because he'll be down at least a week."
To pick up the offensive slack caused by Lawrie's loss and no designated hitter, there had been talk of moving Edwin Encarnacion or even Jose Bautista to third to make room for hot-hitting Adam Lind, but those ideas were quashed by Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons prior to the game, although Anthopoulos said Encarnacion would take grounders at third prior to the game.
His injury not being as serious as Reyes' was little consolation.
"If you're comparing it to what happened to Jose, sure," said Anthopoulos. "Any time a player gets hurt, I don't know that he dodged anything. You'd rather have him out on the field."
At the time of the injury, Lawrie was hitting .209, with five homers and 14 RBIs, but had been on a tear, hitting .412 (7-for-17) over his previous five games, with three multi-hit games.
Morrow expects to be OK in next scheduled start
ATLANTA -- Brandon Morrow left Tuesday afternoon's game with Atlanta after the second inning with the kind of forearm pain he'd never experienced before. On Wednesday he said he fully expects that he won't experience that pain again come Sunday, his next scheduled start.
"I expected it to be sore today because I threw yesterday," said Morrow, who is 2-3 with a 5.63 ERA, but has only one loss over his last four starts. "I'll get it treated all week, take it easy on the throwing. I expect to make that start on Sunday and do everything I can to get it feeling as good as I can."
Morrow allowed four runs in his two innings Tuesday, but only one of the three first-inning runs was earned, as the Blue Jays committed two errors behind him. He also allowed a home run to Braves center fielder Jordan Schafer in the second, leaving after the inning having thrown 47 pitches, 31 for strikes.
The injury left him more than a little bit curious and disappointed in being unable to go further.
"You'd think it would be more like in the flexor area but it's more on the opposite side," he said. "I couldn't get enough on the fastball to really make it effective. It was hurting the command as well. It was tough to get on top of the slider. It wasn't going that well and they could tell it was something.
"There is a lot of stuff that you can push through, kind of mind over body thing but this one wasn't letting me," he added. "It was like that muscle wasn't working."
The location of the injury leads Morrow to believe that rest and treatment will have him okay by the time his next turn comes around.
"I'll probably throw on Friday, take these two days off from throwing, just to give it the most chance to recover and throw Friday," he said. "That will probably be the biggest sign in how I'm doing."
The Blue Jays will watch with caution.
"It doesn't look like anything serious. Right now he's lined up for Sunday," said general manager Alex Anthopoulos. "There is a scenario that he would need to get moved back a few days but we're going to wait at least an extra day to see how he feels. If he doesn't feel 100 percent, obviously we'll make the adjustment."
• The Blue Jays will be getting some key healthy bodies back shortly, as pitcher Josh Johnson will be making a rehab start tomorrow for Triple-A Buffalo at Durham, while outfielder Rajai Davis played a five-inning extended game and should be back soon as well.
• While Toronto loses Lawrie's hot bat and will be playing without the designated hitter over the next two days, Gibbons said he will not catch J.P. Arencibia in the series finale Thursday with knuckleballer R.A. Dickey on the hill.
"That would be unfair to everybody," Gibbons said. "He hasn't caught Dickey in two months."
Veteran Henry Blanco, a former Brave, will catch Dickey as usual.
Jon Cooper is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.