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Blue Jays designate Doubront; rotation spot in flux

As club weighs potential trades, replacement may come from outside organization

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays will go the next few days without a fifth starter, having decided to designate left-hander Felix Doubront for assignment in order to make room on the roster for shortstop Troy Tulowitzki.

Doubront made his final start for Toronto on Tuesday night, when he allowed three runs over four-plus innings. It was his third consecutive outing of five innings or fewer.

The 27-year-old Doubront had a particularly rough outing on July 12, when he allowed seven runs (five earned) over five innings to the Royals, but besides that, he did a relatively decent job. Doubront's best start of the season was an outing against the White Sox on July 7, when he struck out six and walked one, allowing one run over 6 2/3 innings. Still, it wasn't good enough, and the Blue Jays will need more from whoever takes his place in the rotation.

"In all fairness to Felix, it wasn't like he pitched bad," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He did OK; he was really good that night in Chicago. It really came down to it, too, that we didn't want to break up our bullpen right now, the way it's set up, and we think we need to improve [the rotation].

"Wherever that's coming from, I don't know yet. But in fairness to the guy, I can't say he was terrible out there, because by any means, that wasn't the truth. It was just kind of hit or miss with him a little bit."

Toronto won't need a fifth starter until Sunday afternoon's game against Kansas City, and there's a strong possibility the starter for that game has yet to join the organization. The Blue Jays have been actively seeking an upgrade to their rotation prior to Friday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline, and the expectation is that the club will add at least one piece.

In recent weeks, the Blue Jays have been linked to just about every starting pitcher who has been rumored to be available. Tigers ace David Price and White Sox righty Jeff Samardzija are the top two pitchers who might be dealt, but there's a strong second-tier group that includes Seattle's Hisashi Iwakuma, Cincinnati's Mike Leake and Padres right-handers Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner.

If Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos isn't able to find a suitable deal, his team might be left in a bit of a bind. Toronto previously auditioned Minor Leaguers Scott Copeland and Matt Boyd for the fifth starter's role, but neither impressed. Top prospect Daniel Norris, who has a 4.27 ERA in 16 starts with Triple-A Buffalo this season, would seem to be the next pitcher in line for a job, but he also remains a top trade target for other teams.

"I liked everything about him," Gibbons said of Doubront. "He was a real pro, too -- gave us a great effort. We're really looking for that guy to seize the moment. We've gone through a few guys this year in that one spot. We're waiting on someone to really take it and run with it. That really hasn't happened yet."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.
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