5/3/2014 6:10 P.M. ET
Toronto swaps Santos for closer by committee
By Gregor Chisholm / MLB.com
PITTSBURGH -- Sergio Santos is out as the Blue Jays' closer, and the job will instead be handed to a committee of at least three people.
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons made the announcement just one day after Santos surrendered two home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to blow a 5-3 lead against Pittsburgh. It was Santos' third blown save and second loss in his past six appearances.
Toronto will not have an official closer until Casey Janssen returns from the 15-day disabled list at some point within the next two weeks. In the meantime, the Blue Jays will go with either Aaron Loup, Brett Cecil or Steve Delabar, depending on matchups.
"The situation we're in we told them to be ready at any time," Gibbons said. "I told Sergio he can go anywhere from the sixth, seventh or eighth inning. But they have to just get ready when we get into the middle of the game, it's really too tough to narrow it down."
Santos was the logical candidate to take over for Janssen, who began the year the DL with a strained oblique muscle and has yet to pitch this season. Santos had previous experience, with 30 saves for the White Sox in 2011, and he was originally acquired to fill that role with the Blue Jays before an injury cost him most of the 2012 season.
His first four save opportunities this season went relatively well, but the problems began on April 17 in Minnesota. Santos entered with two runners on base and proceeded to walk all three batters he faced and issued three wild pitches en route to a blown save.
It has been an adventure ever since. Santos has allowed a combined nine runs, seven hits and seven walks over his past four-plus innings of work. The final straw came Friday night, when he allowed a two-run homer to Pedro Alvarez and a solo home run to Starling Marte in Toronto's 6-5 loss.
"He's part of the team; we're going to need him before it's all said and done," Gibbons said. "So the key is we have to show some confidence in him, and hopefully he regains that himself. You're going to need them all, maybe take a little bit of pressure off him right now, it doesn't take long and he's back to what he was."
Morrow out at least two months with finger injury
PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Brandon Morrow will miss at least two months because of a torn tendon sheath in his right index finger.
Morrow sustained the injury during the fifth inning of Friday night's loss to the Pirates. He finished the inning but did not come back out for the sixth, and he then flew to Florida on Saturday morning for an MRI exam.
The test revealed a tear, and as a result Morrow has been placed on the 60-day disabled list. The hope is that Morrow will be able to avoid surgery and return in July, but there is also a chance he will not pitch again this season. The Blue Jays recalled right-hander Chad Jenkins to take Morrow's spot on the 25-man roster.
"If he heals up, he should be back in July; if it's not healing up, then they'll have to do surgery and he'll be done for the year probably," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "They're going to wait to see [about] rehab, see if it heals on its own. But if it looks like it's not going to [heal], they have the option to have surgery."
The injury is yet another setback for Morrow, who has been plagued with a wide variety of ailments throughout his career. In 2012, a strained oblique muscle cost him more than two months, and last year a strained right forearm limited him to just 10 starts.
The hope was that this would finally be the year that Morrow broke through and became a bonafide frontline starting pitcher. The Blue Jays frequently praised his upside during the offseason and early in Spring Training, but when the regular season began he struggled to find any type of groove.
Morrow had a 5.93 ERA in six starts this season, with only one outing lasting as many as six innings. He set a career high with eight walks during a start against the Red Sox on April 26, and though those command issues were solved on Friday night, he still surrendered 11 hits.
Gibbons said Morrow had felt a pop near the base of the finger toward the end of his last inning Friday.
With Morrow on the DL, the Blue Jays decided to nix the idea of going with a six-man rotation. Left-hander J.A. Happ was scheduled to make a spot start on Monday in Philadelphia to give the other starters an additional day of rest. Instead of being afforded that luxury, Toronto has decided to make Happ a member of the current starting five.
It remains to be seen how long the Blue Jays will wait before making additional changes. Marcus Stroman, rated the club's No. 2 prospect by MLB.com, will be called up from Triple-A Buffalo prior to Sunday afternoon's game against the Pirates, but he will be coming out of the bullpen, at least temporarily. A corresponding roster move for Stroman's promotion will not be announced until Sunday morning.
Blue Jays' No. 2 prospect Stroman to join 'pen
PITTSBURGH -- Marcus Stroman is headed to Pittsburgh, where he will join the Blue Jays prior to their game against the Pirates on Sunday afternoon.
Toronto announced late Saturday night that Stroman would have his contract purchased from Triple-A Buffalo before the club's series finale at PNC Park. A corresponding roster move was not expected to be announced until Sunday morning.
It had been speculated for the past couple of weeks that Stroman was on the verge of being called up to take over a spot in the rotation, but that does not appear to be the case. At least, not yet.
"He'll be going to the 'pen, to start with anyways," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Stroman is rated the No. 2 prospect in the Blue Jays' organization by MLB.com. He allowed just five runs in 26 2/3 innings (1.69 ERA) with Buffalo and is coming off an outing during which he did not allow a hit over six innings while walking just one and striking out 10.
For the immediate future, Stroman will help provide some much-needed depth to the Blue Jays' bullpen, which has been reeling for the past two weeks. Dating back to Game 2 of a doubleheader in Minnesota on April 17, Toronto's relievers have combined to allow 40 earned runs, 55 hits and 33 walks over 48 1/3 innings.
Stroman's transition to the bullpen, though, could be relatively short-lived. Toronto is expected to closely monitor the situations of both Dustin McGowan and J.A. Happ. If either pitcher struggles in the coming week or two, the Blue Jays would most likely make yet another move and put Stroman into the starting five.
Navarro day to day with potential to pinch-hit
PITTSBURGH -- Blue Jays catcher Dioner Navarro remains day to day with a sore right quadriceps muscle.
Navarro was available to pinch-hit on Friday and then again on Saturday, but the club would prefer to avoid using him behind the plate. The hope is that he will be ready to play on either Monday or Tuesday night in Philadelphia.
"He's getting a little bit better," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Hopefully in the next couple of days he'll be good. He was going to pinch-hit last night, and we were going to pinch-run for him. He was available to do that."
Navarro sustained the injury while running the bases during Thursday night's game in Kansas City. The injury is not considered serious and will not require a stint on the disabled list, but he does need some additional time to heal.
Veteran backup Josh Thole has assumed the primary responsibilities behind the plate during Navarro's absence. Thole has been a surprise contributor this year, getting off to a hot start with the bat. He entered play on Saturday night hitting .393 with a double and two RBIs in 12 games.