Blue Jays make bullpen move, recalling Jenkins
Wagner optioned, but Gibbons says right-hander will be back in Majors
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays decided to shake things up in their bullpen following Friday night's 8-1 loss to the Red Sox, recalling right-hander Chad Jenkins from Triple-A Buffalo and optioning right-hander Neil Wagner to the Minor Leagues.
Toronto manager John Gibbons hinted before the game that Jenkins "could be here any day" and it turns out he was right. The Blue Jays made the move to give themselves another versatile arm as Jenkins has the ability to throw multiple innings and can also be used in shorter stints.
There has been an ongoing debate for the past several years about Jenkins' future role with the organization, but Gibbons seems confident it should be in the bullpen.
"I think he could probably [start] too, but right now the thinking is, the way we're set right now, his most value would serve coming out of the 'pen," Gibbons said before the game.
"Throwing a few innings there, even some tough innings, I think he would be very good at it because he has had success up here. He hasn't been up here long, but he has been pretty good when he has been here."
The decision to send Wagner to the Minor Leagues came at least as somewhat of a surprise. Wagner had been a vital component of the bullpen since he was recalled from the Minors on April 9, posting a 3.12 ERA in 8 2/3 innings.
It's another indication that the Blue Jays are making a point to keep their pitchers who don't have options remaining on their contracts. Esmil Rogers and Todd Redmond cannot be sent to the Minor Leagues without passing through waivers, while left-hander J.A. Happ could block a demotion because of his service time.
That left Wagner as the odd man out despite the fact that Rogers has a 6.23 ERA and has surrendered four home runs in nine appearances this season.
"Yeah definitely," Gibbons said when asked if the fact that Wagner had an option remaining was the reason he got sent down. "He's that guy. He'll be back."
Jenkins had a 2.30 ERA in 15 2/3 innings with Triple-A Buffalo. He has received brief stints in the Majors during each of the past two seasons and owns a 3.58 ERA in 65 1/3 career innings. The sinker is his best pitch, but the biggest area of improvement according to Gibbons has been Jenkins' slider.
"His big thing is his slider, so he has the sinker/slider and it has come a long way," Gibbons said. "It really has. He's a guy who gets out in the strike zone with that sinker and a lot of guys can't do that consistently. [He's] basically throwing one pitch."
Janssen at least two weeks from making '14 debut
TORONTO -- Right-hander Casey Janssen remains at least two weeks away from making his return to the Blue Jays' bullpen.
Janssen is expected to go on a rehab assignment during Toronto's upcoming road trip through Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, but is going to need a significant amount of time to get ready.
Toronto's closer has yet to pitch this season and made only three appearances during the spring, so it's almost like he has to start over and gradually build up his strength and endurance.
"He's so far removed from Spring Training, he didn't have much of a Spring Training anyways," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "I don't see him back here in the next couple of weeks, to be honest with you."
Janssen's injury was originally described by the organization as soreness in his lower back/abdominal muscle. Gibbons clarified Friday that it's an oblique issue, and that type of injury always has the danger of lingering for an extended period.
That's one reason Janssen's recovery has taken longer than first anticipated. The Jays hoped he would be ready by the middle of April, but when he began a rehab assignment earlier in the month, the soreness had yet to go away and he was shut down after just one appearance.
"It wasn't like a setback, but there's still something there that's holding him back a little bit," Gibbons said. "Psychologically, he doesn't feel quite ready to cut loose because something is just nagging at him right there in his oblique."
Dickey helping to protect kids from sexual abuse
TORONTO -- Blue Jays right-hander R.A. Dickey has stepped forward with a direct donation to develop a resource that will help create safe environments for children in sports organizations.
The Canadian Centre for Child Protection has partnered with the Jays Care Foundation to create Commit to Kids -- Sport Edition. The key piece of literature has strategies, policies and a step-by-step plan for reducing the risk of child sexual abuse.
The kit also includes a guide for sports organizations and a training video in addition to materials for parents and sports leaders. It's an important issue that has impacted children all over the world and particularly hits close to home for Dickey.
"I carried the pain of sexual abuse for more than two decades. As a kid I didn't know how to deal with it, so I tried to forget. But you can't forget," said Dickey, who disclosed in 2007 that at the age of 8, he was sexually abused by a female babysitter and later by a teenage male.
"When kids register for sports they are entrusted to our care, and we have every responsibility to take all the steps possible to create positive experiences to enhance their development. This program helps sports organizations to do that."
Based on the Canadian Centre for Child Protection's original Commit to Kids program, this resource helps to create safe environments for children in sport by providing organizations with a plan using a risk-management approach that is much broader than criminal record and child abuse registry checks for preventing child sexual abuse.
Because the majority of offenders do not have a criminal record, relying solely on record checks is ineffective in protecting kids from individuals who may cause harm to children. In the past three months, 800 Commit to Kids -- Sport Edition kits have already been distributed through the Blue Jays Annual Coaching Clinic and to the Ontario Baseball Association's Annual Coaching Clinic.
"We are so proud of this new partnership with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Jays Care Foundation," said Lianna McDonald, executive director at the Canadian Centre for Child Protection. "Jays Care has taken a leadership role in saying we are invested in the personal safety of children within communities. This resource, developed with their support, will enable sports organizations to proactively take steps to protect children."