Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell has one less decision to make this season.
He knew before spring training even started how the back of the Blue Jays' bullpen would look: Sergio Santos will be his closer and Francisco Cordero the setup man.
The starting rotation? He's far less certain about that.
Coming into camp, Farrell envisions a starting rotation of Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brett Cecil, Henderson Alvarez and Dustin McGowan. But he said, “That doesn't mean that starters Kyle Drabek, Aaron Laffey, guys that are in camp here, (don't) have an opportunity to maker this club.”
Farrell added: “We're also looking forward to the exposure that (minor league prospects Drew) Hutchison, (Chad) Jenkins, (Deck) McGuire are going to get to make an impression.”
The Blue Jays acquired Santos in a trade with the White Sox after he saved 30 games in his first season as closer for Chicago and second in the big leagues over all. Cordero had 37 saves for Cincinnati in 2011 but he signed a one-year, $4.5 million free agent contract to pitch the eighth inning for the Blue Jays.
“When you look at the acquisition of Sergio, he gives us that one guy to really go back to that's a little more clear cut today going into 2012,” Farrell said Wednesday after half the Blue Jays' pitchers went through their first workout. The other half will do it Thursday.
“Nothing against the group that was here a year ago, but it's just a more defined closer to let everyone slot in prior to getting to him,” Farrell said about Frank Francisco, who had 17 of Toronto's 33 saves, and Jon Rauch (11).
The setup man doesn't have the cachet that goes with being a closer. But Farrell said baseball people who have worked with Cordero call him “a complete team player. And the fact that he's been a very good closer in his career (327 saves, 3.17 ERA over 13 seasons), he knew the situation he was coming into.
“He's accepting of that eighth-inning role and I think that speaks more about him as a person,” Farrell said“ You can look at the numbers and clearly see the success he's had late in the game.”
Farrell said because he has been a closer the Blue Jays will try to give Cordero “a clean inning,” meaning he would start it, rather than have him enter after runners were on base.