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Short-handed Jays get upper hand

Short-handed Jays get upper hand
Baseball REPORTER,

As Toronto Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston took his seat in the dugout several hours before last night's game against the Texas Rangers, he appeared tired, if not a bit distraught.

"Yeah, it's certainly not good for our staff," Gaston said after learning that two of his pitchers - starter Ricky Romero and struggling closer B.J. Ryan - were heading to the 15-day disabled list. "I hope it doesn't get any worse, that's all.

"Like [former Minnesota Twins manager] Tom Kelly used to say, 'Get somebody else, let's bring him in, let's move on.' "

The Blue Jays continue to move on - and up - slugging three more home runs last night to tame the Rangers 5-2 in front of 15,487 at the Rogers Centre and take two of the three-game set.

The American League-leading Blue Jays (12-5) have won each of their first five series to begin the season.

Alex Rios finally broke out for his first homer of the year, a two-run shot to left field in the fifth inning. Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay each stroked a homer in the second inning.

It was more than enough support for Scott Richmond (2-0), who held the Rangers (6-9) to two runs off six hits and two walks in six innings.

Romero's loss really stings, as Gaston's rotation is already paper-thin after the right-forearm injury to starter Jesse Litsch. The Jays said they will announce who will be called up from the minors to replace Romero before tonight's game in Chicago against the White Sox.

Romero, a rookie left-hander, had been performing brilliantly, crafting a 2-0 start with a skimpy 1.71 earned-run-average. The 24-year-old sheepishly admits that a sneeze last week may have caused his injury, which the team calls a right oblique muscle strain.

"I was actually sitting down before my start [in Minnesota on April 14] and I had my headphones on and I kind of sneezed and I felt a little something, but I didn't think anything of it," Romero said yesterday. "I still went out and threw."

However, he has been bothered by some pain in his right side since.

"Ricky, we hope it's real quick," said Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi, who said Romero will miss at least his next two starts. "If this is the playoffs, he could pitch, but we don't want it to become long term."

Ryan's outlook appears a little more uncertain - which actually might benefit the Blue Jays , who have not been able to count on the veteran left-hander this season.

After blowing a three-run lead in the ninth inning in Wednesday's 8-7 extra-innings victory, the Jays have said Ryan is suffering from a tight trapezius muscle in his left shoulder.

"You'd have to ask him how long he's been feeling [the injury]," Ricciardi said. "All we can go on is what he's told us so maybe he's felt it all along. He's not a guy who tells you too many things. He may have had it longer and he just admitted it recently.

"But he doesn't have anything structurally wrong with his shoulder, which is really good."

Gaston said he first learned of Ryan's injury after Wednesday's game, while Ricciardi said he has known for a couple of days.

Gaston said he had no idea when Ryan, 2-for-4 in save opportunities this season with a bloated 11.12 ERA, might return.

In the meantime, the manager expects left-hander Scott Downs will slide into the closer's role. Downs pitched a hit-less ninth inning last night for his first save of the season.

After the game, the Jays announced they had recalled right-handed reliever Bryan Bullington from their Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas.

Ricciardi said there is some upside to all the carnage in that Litsch, Romero and Casey Janssen (shoulder) could all be healthy enough to rejoin the team by mid-May.



NOTES The Toronto Blue Jays are in Chicago tonight to begin a seven-day, seven-game trip. They will play a three-game weekend set against the White Sox before moving on to Kansas City to play the Royals. While in K.C., the Jays will reunite with former manager John Gibbons for the first time since his firing last June. Gibbons is the Royals' bench coach. ... TSN and TSN2 will combine to air 25 Jays games this season, with the first broadcast on May 19 against the Boston Red Sox on TSN2. ... Not only have the Blue Jays been hitting for power, but they've also been spreading it around. Heading into last night's game, 10 Jays had hit at least one home run.

NEXT Tonight, at Chicago White Sox, 8:11 p.m. EDT

PROBABLE PITCHERS Jays LHP Brian Tallet (0-0, 4.62 ERA) v. Sox LHP Mark Buehrle (2-0, 3.00)

TV Rogers Sportsnet

Robert MacLeod

Author:Fox Sports
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Added: April 24, 2009

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