TORONTO – Pitchers Sean Nolin and Marcus Stroman plus catcher A.J. Jimenez are among the seven prospects the Toronto Blue Jays will send to the Arizona Fall League, but that doesn’t necessarily preclude them from a September call up.
As the only remaining catcher on the 40-man roster not in the majors, Jimenez will be one player to join the big-league team when rosters expand next month, while Nolin, and to a lesser extent Stroman, are also consideration.
Nolin is already on the 40-man so there are no roster management issues in bringing him up, but Stroman is more problematic since he doesn’t need to be added to the 40 for a couple years yet so starting the service-time clock on him may not make sense.
Still, with Todd Redmond start-to-start right now and Esmil Rogers swinging back and forth from the bullpen, the Blue Jays may need an extra arm or two to finish out the season.
Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison, each coming back from Tommy John surgery, are also expected to join the Blue Jays in September, but the team may want additional insulation.
Also headed to the Salt River Rafters of the Arizona Fall League, a six-team loop owned by Major League Baseball that brings together many of the sport’s top prospects, are pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Tyler Ybarra, infielder Andy Burns and outfielder Kenny Wilson.
RIVERA FAREWELL: New York Yankees closer Mariano Rivera met with 20 people employed by or associated with the Blue Jays before Tuesday’s contest in the latest of his farewell visits with long-time staffers and behind-the-scenes people around the majors.
Rivera spent about an hour taking questions and posing for pictures, which included Sportsnet broadcast stats man Scott Carson, leaving his audience awed and inspired. Each left with a signed ball afterwards.
“He came in and was very relaxed and pleasant from the start,” said Carson. “He made introductory remarks, looking around the room the whole time and making eye contact with each of us.
“I asked him about the genesis of his cutter, and he recounted throwing it for the first time in the outfield with former teammate Ramiro Mendoza back in 1996, how he just sort of stumbled upon on it. After a few bullpen sessions, some with current Yankees manager Joe Girardi, he began to seemingly throw the pitch at will. His most telling comment was when he said to me, ‘If you hear anyone say that they taught me that pitch, it’s not true. God taught me that pitch.'”
Rivera has held similar sessions in each big-league city he’s visited during his final season before retirement.
ROMERO ROUGHED UP: Ricky Romero allowed five runs, four earned, on five hits and six walks over 6.1 innings in triple-A Buffalo’s 5-3 loss at Lehigh Valley on Tuesday night. Three of his walks and two of the runs came in the seventh, when he was removed with one out and the bases loaded.
Lehigh Valley also beat him in his last start, when he gave up five runs, four earned, on nine hits and a walk in 5.1 innings. Romero hurled a gem against Pawtucket on Aug. 17, allowing a run on six hits and a walk over seven innings with six strikeouts.
In Toronto, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said they were still deciding whether to make the 2011 all-star a September call up.
“With Romero we just need to see the consistency,” said Anthopoulos. “He’s still young. He still has stuff. Hopefully next spring training he comes in, but I can’t project what he’s going to do going forward. We know the ability’s there. We’ve all seen it. We’ve seen it from start to start.”