Blue Jays option southpaw Norris to Triple-A
Club purchases contract of left-hander Albers, transfers Izturis to 60-day DL
CLEVELAND -- The Blue Jays made a change on their pitching staff Friday, optioning southpaw Daniel Norris to Triple-A Buffalo, and purchasing the contract of left-hander Andrew Albers from their highest affiliate.
Norris, a rookie, pitched to a 1-1 record and a 3.86 ERA in his first five starts with the Blue Jays this season. He had a brief start on Thursday in Cleveland, lasting just three innings and racking up 78 pitches in that span.
"He just needs to go down and iron it out a little bit," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's too inconsistent right now. It's for his own good. Go down and get back on track, and we'll get him back here."
Gibbons said Norris has had trouble repeating his delivery, saying he "battles his mechanics." Those repeatability concerns have led to a low rate of pitches in the strike zone (42.8 percent, 94th of 112 qualified starters), a low first-pitch strike rate (54.4 percent, 103rd) and one of the league's worst walk rates (11.7 percent, 102nd).
Taking Norris' spot in the Blue Jays' rotation is veteran Marco Estrada, acquired from Milwaukee in the offseason in exchange for Adam Lind.
Estrada has pitched well out of the bullpen for Toronto this season -- as he did last year in Milwaukee once he lost his spot in the rotation. Estrada will still be available out of the bullpen for Friday night's game in Cleveland, but officially slides into the rotation after that.
"He's got experience doing it, and we like what he's been doing in the bullpen, but he's kind of a natural fit," Gibbons said. "We'll give that a shot and see how it works. And if we have to adjust, we'll adjust."
Gibbons said Estrada will be on a pitch count for his first start, maxing out somewhere around 75 pitches. After that, he should be stretched out to pitch deeper into games.
Albers went 2-5 with a 4.05 ERA in 10 starts for Minnesota in 2013, and that's his only experience in the big leagues. The 29-year-old pitched in Korea last year and was 1-3 with a 3.09 ERA in his first four stars for Buffalo. Albers is 26-13 with a 2.86 ERA in his Minor League career.
Toronto made room for Albers on the 40-man roster by moving veteran infielder Maicer Izturis from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL. Izturis has been shelved by a strained groin.