Righty, 2013 All-Star, to continue to work on changes in Minor Leagues
NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays caught a lot of people off-guard on Tuesday afternoon by making a surprise decision to option right-hander Steve Delabar to Triple-A Buffalo.
When reports surfaced Monday night that infielder Munenori Kawasaki was on the verge of a promotion, most of the speculation centered around either left-hander Brett Cecil or designated hitter Adam Lind being placed on the disabled list.
Instead of going in that direction, when the official roster move was announced prior to the series opener in New York, it was Delabar who became the odd-man out. The move was made in part to avoid losing Lind or Cecil for the next two weeks.
"We're trying to avoid placing anybody on the DL," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "We think Adam is days away, he's really day to day at this point. The fact that we had the off-day, our bullpen is fresh and we needed to make a move.
"It's just a combination of things. We needed to clear up a spot to get an infielder up here, and out of the relievers that were there, Chad [Jenkins] provided us a little more length right now, and we can get Steve the work as well. That was the move for us, unless we were going to go the DL route."
Delabar was borderline dominant for the Blue Jays last season, and as a result, he earned a spot on the American League All-Star team for the first time in his career. He was one of Toronto's lone bright spots in an otherwise-disappointing 2013 campaign.
This season, though, hasn't gone as smoothly. Delabar found himself slowly sliding down the Blue Jays' depth chart as he battled a slight drop in velocity and a lack of command. Overall, he posted a 4.68 ERA with 16 walks in 25 innings and began to lose his innings to fellow right-handers Jenkins and Dustin McGowan.
Despite the struggles, there was a line of thinking that the Blue Jays would remain patient with their hard-throwing reliever. He appeared to turn a corner during his past two outings, as he tossed a pair of scoreless innings vs. the Twins and Orioles. The movement on his splitter was back during Thursday's appearance in Baltimore, but in the end, it wasn't enough to save his job.
"We don't want to go with eight guys in the 'pen," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "With Lindy banged up, we need another player. And Delabar's got options, and he needs to go down and iron it out a little bit.
"Some steady work, I think, will do wonders for him. I thought he looked much better the other night in Baltimore, but he's been battling it. The only way he's going to get that is to go down and do it. So it kind of all came together at the right time."
Delabar will now report to Buffalo for what he can only hope is a relatively short stint. Once there, he'll continue working on some mechanical adjustments that he began to make several weeks ago.
The 30-year-old noticed he had a tendency to drift toward third base during the leg kick of his windup. Delabar would attempt to compensate for being slightly off-line, but it led to a lot of control issues. This season, he is walking 5.8 batters per nine innings, compared to a 4.4 mark last season.
Delabar was encouraged by his past two outings and felt like he was heading in the right direction. If he was surprised by the move, he did a pretty good job of hiding it Tuesday afternoon.
"I'm the guy who has options," Delabar said. "We had to make a roster move, and I'm just the guy. They want me to go down, continue to work on some stuff, get back on track to where I was, and just be back whenever they need me.
"I know what I'm capable of doing and how I can help this team. So I know that I will be back, and I'll be here to help."
Kawasaki will give the Blue Jays some additional infield depth while Lind remains out after he fouled a ball off his right foot during the sixth inning of Saturday's game in Baltimore. Kawasaki got the start at second base on Tuesday night.
The 33-year-old Kawasaki played in 44 games for Buffalo and is batting .276 with 11 doubles and nine RBIs. Last season, the veteran played in 96 games for Toronto and batted .229 with 27 runs scored.
Toronto remains optimistic that Cecil will be available to pitch out of the bullpen Wednesday night.