4/5/2014 6:30 P.M. ET
Happ to start rehab assignment in Dunedin
By Gregor Chisholm and Jamie Ross / MLB.com
TORONTO -- Left-hander J.A. Happ has been sent on a rehab assignment and is tentatively scheduled to start for Class A Dunedin on Saturday night.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos said there will be restrictions on Happ's first outing since Spring Training. Happ hasn't pitched since March 25, when he gave up 12 hits and seven earned runs over three innings to the Pirates.
Happ was placed on the 15-day disabled list the following day with a sore back. He threw a bullpen session on April 2 and is now in the process of building up his endurance.
"He threw 70-something [pitches] his last spring game," Anthopoulos said. "He's been shut down for a little bit, so that would be the cap. Somewhere in the 70s, because that's where he's built up to."
Happ dealt with tightness in his lower back for most of Spring Training but still made four starts. He struggled, going 0-2 and allowing 16 earned runs over seven innings.
It is unclear as to where Happ, 31, fits on the Blue Jays' roster when he does return. He could find himself in the bullpen, though an injury to a starter could eventually land him a place in the rotation.
Rules prompt promotion of Walden, not Jenkins
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays reversed course by deciding to purchase the contract of right-hander Marcus Walden prior to Saturday afternoon's game vs. the Yankees.
Toronto had previously announced that Chad Jenkins was going to be promoted from Triple-A Buffalo, but that was not allowed. According to league rules, Jenkins is not eligible for a promotion until 10 games into the regular season.
Walden will officially take the spot of right-hander Jeremy Jeffress, who was designated for assignment following the Blue Jays' 7-2 loss to the Yankees on Friday night.
"You can't bring a guy on the [40-man roster] back for 10 days unless there's an injury," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "They have to be on option for 10 days. So guys like [Neil] Wagner, anybody on the 40 -- [Mickey] Storey, [Sean] Nolin, the list goes on and on. They have to be on option for 10 days in the season unless somebody gets hurt."
The 25-year-old Walden is exempt from that rule because he wasn't on the 40-man roster and didn't need to be optioned to the Minor Leagues at the end of Spring Training. He made one appearance for Triple-A Buffalo this season and allowed just one hit in one inning.
Walden, taken in the ninth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, spent last season with Double-A New Hampshire and went 6-14 with a 3.71 ERA in 26 starts. With his background as a starter, he has the ability to throw multiple innings, and that's especially valuable considering the Blue Jays' bullpen pitched 6 1/3 innings on Friday night.
"He has a good arm, he's a strike-thrower, he can get some ground balls," manager John Gibbons said. "I had never seen him before. The organization has always liked him, and he impressed me during Spring Training. He can throw some innings for you, he's used to starting.
"He can throw strikes; that's the key. You have a chance when you throw strikes. If you don't, it makes it tough, and you're killing the guys playing behind you."
Though Jenkins' promotion has been delayed for the time being -- he will be eligible on April 10 -- it's very possible it won't be long before he eventually gets that call again. Gibbons is a big fan of what Jenkins did last season and during Spring Training.
"I had been pounding and pounding to get him up here from the day we sent him down, but he's not here," Gibbons said of the 26-year-old Jenkins, who posted a 2.70 ERA in 33 1/3 innings last season.
Gibbons not concerned about Rasmus' slow start
TORONTO -- Center fielder Colby Rasmus snapped an 0-for-14 skid with a double to right field during Saturday afternoon's 4-0 victory over the Yankees.
Rasmus has gotten off to a slow start this season as he continues to search for some positive results at the plate. Perhaps that double will help jump-start that, but he's still just 2-for-22, with 10 strikeouts.
A lot of the problems seem to have stemmed from a timing issue, but even before the game, manager John Gibbons thought Rasmus was very close and didn't think there was cause for any concern.
"It's kind of a similar start to last year," Gibbons said. "He's just missing some pitches, whether it's fouling them off or, like [on Friday] night, when he hit one to the track. Even a couple of times [against Tampa Bay], he's right on it, he's hitting long fly balls, so he's just a click off.
"He's going to strike out -- that's the kind of player he is, he's going to have some strikeouts -- but I think he's real close, he looks real close, it just hasn't happened yet."
Rasmus, 27, is a notoriously streaky hitter. There are long stretches in which he will look great at the plate, and other times when there are prolonged periods of ineffectiveness. Last season, though, despite a couple of slow stretches, was a major success overall.
He had a breakout season at the plate by hitting .276 with 22 home runs and 66 RBIs in 118 games. The Blue Jays are expecting similar results this season and aren't about to read a lot into the rough first week.
"That's who he is," Gibbons said when asked about Rasmus' streakiness. "He got off to a similar start last year, but then he picked it up and was much better in the second half, maybe even before that.
"Most guys in baseball are streaky, good ways and bad ways. They'll have their ups and downs. Very rarely do you get guys who are steady the whole way, those are usually your Hall of Famers. Everybody battles that. Some guys get off to slow starts, some fast, but eventually, everybody hits that rut."
In addition to connecting on a double, Rasmus made a major impact with his defense. He threw out Francisco Cervelli at the plate for his second assist of the season and added a diving catch during the ninth inning.
Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. Jamie Ross is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.