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Litsch's absence causes ripple effect


Litsch's absence causes ripple effect
Baseball REPORTER

The Toronto Blue Jays entered the 2009 season under no illusions as to the precarious nature of their starting rotation.

Although his team is off to a pleasantly surprising beginning, Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston is already being forced to rethink his starting five now that Jesse Litsch has landed on the disabled list with a strain of his right forearm.

And while the organization likes to boast of the young arms it has waiting in the wings in the minor leagues the Blue Jays have decided to fill Litsch's starting spot internally, shifting veteran Brian Tallet from his middle relief.

"I think that Tallet gives us the best chance to stay in games and win games," Tony LaCava, the Jays assistant general manager, said last night before Toronto's loss to the Minnesota Twins.

After the disconcerting news surrounding Litsch - who could be lost for at least a month - Gaston's outlook was brightened somewhat by another solid effort by rookie Ricky Romero.

The young left-hander showed considerable poise in just his second start but it wasn't enough as the Blue Jays (6-3) lost 3-2 in 11 innings to the Twins (4-5). That evened the four-game set at a game each.

The decisive hit was delivered by Joe Crede, who crushed a double to deep-centre off Toronto reliever Jesse Carlson, which brought Canadian Justin Morneau lumbering all the way around from first base with the winning run.

The win went to Toronto native Jesse Crain, who pitched two innings of no-hit relief for the Twins.

Romero, in just his second major-league start, allowed two runs off eight hits before turning a 2-2 ballgame over to his bullpen after eight innings.

"It's definitely a tough one to swallow as a team," Romero said. "We battled and we left it all out there, which was important."

Minnesota starter Glen Perkins was equally effective for the Twins through eight innings, allowing a couple of Toronto runs off seven hits.

To fill Tallet's role in the bullpen the Blue Jays have promoted left hander Bill Murphy, 27, from their Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas.

Tallet will make his season debut as a starter on Saturday in Toronto when the Blue Jays play the Oakland Athletics.

The last time Tallet started for the Jays was on Aug. 7, 2006, against the Baltimore Orioles, when he walked four batters over 21/3 innings but allowed just one hit while striking out two.

This year out of the bullpen, Tallet has appeared in four games, allowing five runs off four hits while striking out nine over 71/3innings.

"He's going to be limited on pitches that he can throw probably for a couple of times out anyway, probably get him up to 70 on Saturday and hope he gets through five innings for us," Gaston said.

Gaston has no idea how long Litsch, considered the team's No. 2 starter behind Roy Halladay, will be on the shelf.

But with the red-headed righty under strict orders not to pick up a ball for the next two weeks an educated guess is that he will be sidelined for at least a month.

Litsch was the starter in the first game of the series on Monday and he said he felt something wrong with his arm near the elbow after he struck out Morneau in the first inning.

He tried to pitch through the pain but had to leave the game in the fourth inning. The Jays went on to win 8-6.

*****

ON DECK

NOTES File this one under what have you done for me lately. After swatting two home runs in Monday's 8-6 win, Jays rookie Travis Snider was not in last night's starting lineup. Toronto manager Cito Gaston, trying to spread the playing time around and with a righty starting on the mound for the Twins, opted to start Jose Bautista in left field. ...

NEXT Tonight in Minnesota at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome against the Twins, 8:10 p.m. (Eastern)

TV Sportsnet.

Robert MacLeod

*****

Globe web poll results

726 respondents* were asked "Is it time for a new Baseball stadium in Toronto?"

YES: 18%

NO: 82%

*as of 8:05 p.m., April 14

THE GLOBE AND MAIL


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: April 15, 2009

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