Bullpen depth, a good talk, and no gas

June 4, 2014, 8:00 AM

DETROIT – It’s not an issue at the moment but the Toronto Blue Jays’ bullpen depth is suddenly thinning out and they may be only an injury or two away from having a problem.

Certainly things have looked much better in the relief corps since Casey Janssen returned from the disabled list and Dustin McGowan was switched back from the rotation. And Chad Jenkins, recalled again Tuesday, rounds out a pretty deep group, but attrition is striking at triple-A Buffalo.

Neil Wagner (flexor tendon in right forearm) and John Stilson (shoulder tightness) are both on the disabled list, with Wagner being sidelined a second time. Both are high on the depth chart for the Blue Jays and their absence will be felt if more help in the big-leagues is needed.

Factor in that Sergio Santos remains on the DL with a forearm strain – there’s hope he can begin a rehab assignment as early as next week – and an area of excess looks far less bountiful. The next layer of depth at Buffalo includes Esmil Rogers, Rob Rasmussen, Bobby Korecky and Ryan Tepera.

Restoring some of that depth is surely something on the Blue Jays radar.

In the dugout after Drew Hutchison escaped a two-on, one-out jam in Tuesday’s 5-3 Blue Jays win over the Detroit Tigers, Jose Bautista pulled the young right-hander aside and gave him a little talk.

“I wasn’t real pleased with the lack of crispness I’d had, and he said, ‘Hey, you got out of it, let’s go, turn the page,’” Hutchison said afterwards. “He’s completely right, I was able to turn the page and get over it and establish that rhythm and get going again.”

The night was a success for Hutchison and the Blue Jays, a far cry from how things went in their last visit to Comerica Park.

Blue Jays third base coach Luis Rivera was kind enough to interpret an interview with Juan Francisco for me last week. Here’s a look at the big third baseman, how he’s changed his swing and approach, and how Edwin Encarnacion “made him” sign with the Blue Jays.

Some other injury news and notes from the triple-A Buffalo: Ricky Romero is expected to miss a chunk of time with a muscle pull in his leg; fellow left-hander Sean Nolin, on the DL with a groin injury, is fine after taking a liner off the leg during a simulated game.

Right-hander Radhames Liz makes his Bisons debut Wednesday night against Toledo. The 30-year-old signed a minor-league deal with the Blue Jays in March after leading Korea Baseball Organization in strikeouts last year with 188 for the LG Twins. He made two starts at double-A New Hampshire, throwing 8.1 shutout innings with 10 strikeouts, before being promoted.

Liam Hendriks allowed four runs over eight innings with six strikeouts in his start back in Buffalo since his demotion from the Blue Jays. Buffalo lost 5-4 in 11 innings.

Sticking with farm news, top pitching prospect Aaron Sanchez allowed two runs on five hits and a walk with a season-best seven strikeouts in New Hampshire’s 10-2 win over Bowie on Tuesday night.

Some people have asked me what this was all about:

 

Yup, we ran out of gas on the 401.

Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com and I did the drive to Detroit from Toronto together Tuesday morning, and along the way the vehicle we were in suddenly stopped moving. Out tank hit E about 10 minutes outside of Windsor, and we ended up sitting by the side of the road for about an hour while we waited for CAA to get to us with some fuel.

Not sure how it happened, but one of my favourite post-game scrum utterings is apt for our plight: “It happened, what happened.” (that’s a real quote, BTW)

Thankfully we got to Comerica Park at a decent hour, but amplifying the strange, we later saw this:

 

Where was Robocop when we needed him?

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