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Starting rotation already has a (g)Litsch


Starting rotation already has a (g)Litsch
Baseball REPORTER,

The Toronto Blue Jays knew their starting rotation was precarious going into the 2009 season, and already manager Cito Gaston must rethink things now that Jesse Litsch has landed on the disabled list with a strained right forearm.

While the team likes to boast of the young arms it has waiting in the wings in the minor leagues, the Blue Jays will fill Litsch's vacancy internally, shifting veteran Brian Tallet to a starting role from 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 yesterday before Toronto's 3-2, 11-inning loss to the Minnesota Twins.

To fill Tallet's role in the bullpen, the Blue Jays 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. His addition means the Jays will feature three lefties in the starting rotation along with Ricky Romero, last night's starter, and David Purcey.

The last time Tallet started for the Jays was on Aug. 7, 2006, when he walked four batters over 21/3 innings but allowed just one hit while striking out two as the Blue Jays cruised to an 8-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

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 done a good job for us," Gaston said about Tallet. "Several times we've talked about him as a starter. I was thinking about it during the game ... when Jesse went down.

"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 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 even pick up a ball for the next two weeks, an educated guess is he will be sidelined for at least a month, perhaps longer.

"They want me to come back strong," Litsch said. "They don't want me to come back iffy and that's fine with me. I'd rather come back strong than come back and get shut down [again] in September.

"If we're in a playoff hunt, I'd like to be able to pitch through everything."

Litsch was the starter in Monday's series opener against the Twins and he said he felt something wrong with his arm near the elbow after he struck out Justin 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 to improve their record to 6-2.

"I pretty much had pain on every pitch ... but I tried to battle through it," Litsch said. "It was probably not the right thing to do, but you've got to learn from your mistakes and hopefully I get back here sooner than later."

Litsch had a magnetic resonance imaging procedure on the sore arm yesterday morning and the results came back negative, indicating no structural damage.

Forearm soreness felled relief pitcher Jeremy Accardo last season. He went on the DL in May and did not play thereafter.

So it is only natural that Litsch admits to being concerned.

"Your arm is your money-maker," he said. "That's your livelihood. "

*****

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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