Gibbons: Romero making progress at triple-A

Ricky Romero has made some progress at the minor league level.

Ricky Romero has been pitching better at triple-A Buffalo, and the Toronto Blue Jays like what they see.

Manager John Gibbons joined Jeff Blair and Dirk Hayhurst on Baseball Central Friday, explaining that Romero successfully attacked the strike zone in his start Wednesday, a seven-inning outing in which he allowed five hits and three walks while striking out six.

If Romero continues to pitch well, he may return to the MLB level this year.

“He could still play a vital part in this thing before it’s all said and done,” Gibbons said.

The Blue Jays have had tremendous pitching recently, a major reason they have won eight consecutive games. J.A. Happ and Brandon Morrow are recovering from injuries on the disabled list and could provide reinforcements later in the year.

Meanwhile, the Blue Jays’ bullpen has continued to impress. Gibbons expressed confidence in the group, explaining that it can be a challenge to get relievers enough work at times that the starters are pitching deep into games.

“You can sit too long out there as well,” Gibbons said.

The manager repeated that outfielder Melky Cabrera will be bumped from the leadoff spot once shortstop Jose Reyes returns from his rehab assignment. The Blue Jays like the idea of keeping Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion in the second and third spots in the lineup.

Gibbons added that centre fielder Colby Rasmus seems more comfortable than he did earlier on this year.

“He’s probably a little more outgoing in this last month or so than he was early on,” he said.

HAPP HOPEFUL: Happ is hopeful that he’ll be able to return to the Blue Jays by the all-star break. The left-hander has been making progress while working out at the team’s minor league complex in Dunedin.

“I’m coming along and threw off a mound without a [knee] brace the other day and hope to do so tomorrow,” he said, according to William Weinbaum of ESPN.

Happ took a line drive to the head while facing the Tampa Bay Rays last month and has been on the disabled list with knee and head injuries since. He told ESPN that he started running recently and is not quite there when it comes to cutting and turning.

“I was in a brace for several weeks and am now moving, jogging and regaining athleticism,” Happ said.

The left-hander said it was “eerie” to see Rays right-hander Alex Cobb to take a line drive to the head on the same mound he did.

GOSE BENCHED: Buffalo Bisons manager Marty Brown benched outfielder Anthony Gose after the outfielder showed questionable effort while making a poor defensive play Wednesday.

Brown told the Buffalo News that Gose needed “a day to think.” The manager indicated that he wasn’t pleased with Gose’s recent performance.

“We have to get his head removed from a place it shouldn’t be,” Brown said.

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