For Sergio Santos, it was the old conundrum.
The manager had lost confidence in sending the reliever into key situations for the Toronto Blue Jays, while the steady work was something that the power-throwing righthander desperately required to get back on track.
Something had to come to a head – and it did on Monday when the Blue Jays placed the 31-year-old on waivers.
If no other Major League Baseball team claims Santos, he will have to report to Toronto’s Triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, where he will try to rediscover the form he displayed in 2011 when he recorded 30 saves as a member of the Chicago White Sox.
To fill Santos’ spot on the 25-man roster the Blue Jays recalled lefthanded pitcher Rob Rasmussen from the Bisons.
“He hasn't thrown well, clearly some guys are being used more than him right now and the only way to get out of this funk is to pitch,” Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said on Monday after the news about Santos broke. “But it's hard to find a spot for him right now.”
The Blue Jays are taking a calculated risk that no other team will want to claim the struggling pitcher, who is out of options and is slated to earn about $3.75-million this season with a club option for another $6-million in 2015.
The oft-injured reliever has appeared in 24 games this season for the Blue Jays, posting a 0-2 record, five saves and a hefty 7.78 ERA.
The Los Angeles native spent parts of the past three seasons in a Blue Jays uniform, making 59 relief appearances, going 1-4 with eight saves and 4.83 ERA.
While many might applaud if another team were to take a flyer on Santos and claim him off waivers, Anthopoulos said he hopes it doesn’t happen.
“He'll get it back, he has way too much talent,” Anthopoulos said. “Stuff is still there, still striking out over a guy an inning. It's just command and once he can get ahead in the count, he's going to be back to being the guy he was.
“Hopefully it will be quick, we hope this is a quick move, get some innings, get hot and come back because we certainly could use the help.”
Santos’ demotion leaves the Blue Jays with only one righty power pitcher in the bullpen in Dustin McGowan to provide setup for closer Casey Janssen.
“You’re saying we’re tackling them with finesse, now?” Toronto manager John Gibbons cracked when asked about it.
“You may see one down the road,” he added, perhaps a reference to Aaron Sanchez, a right-hander and Toronto’s top pitching prospect who is toiling in Buffalo.
Sanchez has recently been shifted into the bullpen with the Bisons and the belief is it is just a matter of time before the Blue Jays come calling.
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