Brett Cecil was called up to the majors to serve as an emergency
stopgap in the Toronto Blue Jays rotation, but he and the other
fill-ins on the starting staff won't be pushed out of jobs as long as
they continue to pitch well.
The 22-year-old rookie pressed his case again Friday
night by throwing six solid innings of three-run ball, making the most
of his team's strong offensive showing in an 8-3 drubbing of the
Chicago White Sox.
"You've got to go out and perform," said Cecil, one
of the team's top prospects. "Once you get to this level, you've got to
make adjustments on the mound, not the next day or the day after. ...
"You want to prove to them you belong up here."
With Casey Janssen pushing toward a callup from
double-A New Hampshire after rehabbing his right shoulder injury, and
lefty Ricky Romero nearing a return from a strained right oblique at
triple-A Las Vegas, there was an expectation that they'd automatically
return to the rotation once they were back to 100 per cent.
General manager J.P. Ricciardi said otherwise before
the game, pointing out that it would be unfair to bump Cecil, fellow
rookies Robert Ray and Scott Richmond, or converted reliever Brian
Tallet unless they faltered.
"Right now, we don't have a spot for them," said
Ricciardi, who includes Jesse Litsch, who isn't due back from a right
forearm strain before mid-June, as a pitcher on the outside looking in.
"That could change real quick."
Ray is believed to be closest to the bubble right
now and his outing Saturday versus the White Sox may go a long way in
determining whether he makes his scheduled start in Boston next week.
Janssen is expected to be the next starter called up.
Cecil (2-0), meanwhile, did little to hurt his cause
in picking up his second big-league win despite struggling with his
slider. He put up four zeros while the game was close and then pounded
the zone with plenty of insurance after a six-run fourth turned this
one into a laugher.
Aaron Hill hammered a two-run shot in the third that
opened the scoring and the Blue Jays (24-14) proceeded to bang out
seven straight hits in the fourth while busting it open before a crowd
"The guys got the bats back out tonight and scored
some runs," said manager Cito Gaston. "That gave Cecil a chance to
relax a bit, he did a good job."
An end to their two-game losing skid well in hand at
that point, the only drama left afterwards was whether the White Sox
(15-19) could avoid a seventh shutout this season.
Paul Konerko's solo blast in the fifth took care of
that, and Jermaine Dye, playing thanks to an appeal of the two-game
suspension he received Friday, added a two-run blast in the sixth that
made it 8-3 for the only other damage against Cecil, who has allowed
just four earned runs in three big-league starts.
"You can tell something about the kid," said Hill.
"He's not going out and walking a lot of guys, he's throwing strikes,
and that's all we want him to do. If he gets hit, he gets hit. Each
start he seems to build a little more confidence."
The homers were academic by then anyhow, after John
Danks (2-3) got rocked in a brutal fourth. The inning went Adam Lind
double, Scott Rolen single, Kevin Millar RBI single, Rod Barajas RBI
double with Millar scoring on an error by left-fielder Carlos Quentin
and Jose Bautista RBI double before Danks got yanked, sarcastically
tipping his cap to the crowd before he left.
"These fans, I don't want to get into trouble,
they're hockey fans, I'll call them that," said Danks. "They were
getting on me pretty good. It was just kind of my way of slapping them
back in the face."
D.J. Carrasco came on and gave up an RBI double to
Marco Scutaro and a single to Aaron Hill before he nailed Alex Rios on
the right forearm to load the bases. Scutaro scored when Vernon Wells
hit into a double play to make it 8-0.
Deposed closer B.J. Ryan rejoined the team Friday
after being activated from the 15-day disabled list and pitched the
ninth in a non-save situation. After allowing a leadoff walk to Jim
Thome, Ryan struck out the next two batters before getting Alexei
Ramirez on a fly ball to end it.
"He got the job done, it's good to see," said
Gaston, adding that the swings and misses were "a real good sign right
there. We can use him, whether he gets back into his role or comes in
there as the set-up man or like he did tonight."
Still, with Scott Downs' emergence in Ryan's
absence, the two-time all-star is another pitcher to lose his place
because of injury.
"It's a good thing that everyone is doing so well,"
said Hill. "On the flip side of that, there's some tough decisions to
be made when these guys come back. Guys have done nothing but a great
job so far, it's tough to take apart a team when you're on a roll."
Ricciardi joked about breaking tradition by having
players lose their jobs while injured, but said performance was
dictating the decisions, especially in the starting rotation.
He said for now he plans to stick with the current five, but added he might feel differently in the next couple of days.
"We're making this up as we go," he said.