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Gaston faces big decisions about rotation


Gaston faces big decisions about rotation
Baseball REPORTER

Slowly but surely - save for Dustin McGowan - the injured pitchers should start trickling back to the Toronto Blue Jays lineup beginning around the middle of May.

And at that point manager Cito Gaston will have some critical decisions to ponder about his starting rotation, which has performed way above expectations in the first month of the season.

One of the key decisions will surround Brian Tallet, last night's starter against the Kansas City Royals at soggy Kauffman Stadium, where the first pitch was delayed 31 minutes by rain.

A stalwart of the bullpen, Tallet was pressed into the rotation after Jesse Litsch landed on the 15-day disabled list with soreness in his right forearm and elbow on April 14.

In his previous two starts heading into last night's game, the 31-year-old lefty has performed admirably, pitching into the sixth inning in both outings, going 1-0 with a 0.82 earned-run average.

With continued performances like that, assistant general manager Alex Anthopoulos agreed it will be hard to send Tallet back to the bullpen.

"It depends on how things progress," Anthopoulos said.

"We're going basically week to week. Things change so quickly - guys get hurt, guys don't perform.

"Tallet's great because all he cares about is winning and he'll do whatever's good for the team.

"If he's rolling and he's throwing well I'm sure we're going to find a way to keep him in there."

That would probably be at the expense of David Purcey, 0-2 in five starts this season with a 7.01 ERA and a tendency for wildness with 18 bases on balls over 252/3innings.

Litsch, considered the No. 2 starter behind Roy Halladay, has been given clearance to start throwing off level ground for the next two weeks.

It is anticipated he won't be ready to rejoin the Jays until the end of May.

By then the Blue Jays are figuring they will have already welcomed back both rookie starter Ricky Romero and the long-lost Casey Janssen.

Romero, whose rookie campaign is off to a great start with a 2-0 record in three starts, played catch for the first time yesterday after going on the DL on April 14 with a strained right oblique muscle.

Afterward, he reported no ill-affects from the throwing session.

Janssen led all Blue Jay relievers in 2007, his first full season in the majors, with 722/3innings pitched.

He finished second on the team in saves with six.

The Blue Jays were considering converting him to a starter at the beginning of last year before his season was wiped out by surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder in March.

Janssen was expected to start this season before he had a setback with the shoulder during spring training.

He is working himself back in shape in the minor leagues and Gaston said earlier this week Janssen appears to be ahead of everybody else as far as his health is concerned.

Their anticipated return by mid-May will give Gaston a lot of options.

"Those are great problems to have," Anthopoulos said.

"And we have a lot of flexibility with a lot of these guys who are young and with lots of options left.

"Invariable there's probably going to be guys going back down, guys who are going to hit a bump in the road from a performance standpoint.

"You're going to go through at least eight to 12 starters in a year so it's a good problem to have."

The one drawback to the sunny outlook is McGowan, whose return from shoulder surgery last July is coming along a lot slower than expected.

It was initially suggested McGowan would be ready to start throwing again in May but it is anybody's guess as to when he might be ready.

McGowan is expected to begin throwing off flat ground over the next couple of days.

Gaston did not appear very optimistic when asked if he would be surprised to see McGowan back this year.

"I guess, maybe, I don't know," he said.

"He's a kid that I certainly worry about, think about, because he's so young.

"I hope he can come back during this season and pitch again and pitch for the next 10 years, hopefully. But things are going really slow for him."

ON DECK

NOTES Jays starting pitcher Ricky Romero, who landed on the 15-day disabled list on April 20 with a right oblique strain, threw off flat ground for the first time here yesterday and reported everything felt fine. "I let a couple go," he said. "My arm's in shape. It's not like there's something wrong with it. As far as my oblique is concerned, no problem." ... It was announced earlier in the week that Toronto farmhand Johermyn Chavez, signed by the Jays as a non-drafted free agent in 2005, was selected as the Midwest League hitter of the week. Chavez, an outfielder with Toronto's Single-A affiliate in Lansing, went 8-for-16 with six runs, three home runs and 10 RBIs. ... With his win against Kansas City on Tuesday night, rookie Scott Richmond improved to 3-0. The last Toronto rookie pitcher to begin a season 3-0 was Gustavo Chacin in 2005.

NEXT Today in Kansas City against the Royals, 2:10 p.m. EDT.

PROBABLE PITCHERS Jays LHP Brian Burres (0-1, 12.46) v. RHP Kyle Davies (1-1, 4.88).

TV Rogers Preview.

Robert MacLeod


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 30, 2009

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