When it comes to the handling of top minor-league prospect Anthony Gose, the Toronto Blue Jays say they are not about to be rushed into any rash decisions in regards to his path to the major leagues.
Some impatient followers of the American League club are already in full knee-jerk mode just two weeks into the start of the regular season after some early setbacks.
Granted, the loss of all-star shortstop Jose Reyes for up to three months after he severely sprained his left ankle in Kansas City last week qualifies as more than a minor issue.
At least the Blue Jays (6-7) received some good news in that regard on Monday before they opened a four-game set against the Chicago White Sox (5-8) with a 4-3 victory at Rogers Centre.
Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos said that Reyes visited a specialist in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday who confirmed the diagnosis of a severely sprained ankle.
There had been some concern that Reyes, who was injured sliding awkwardly into second base on Friday, might require surgery.
And there was more good news for Blue Jays fans following the win with the announcement that third baseman Brett Lawrie, yet to play this season after picking up an oblique strain in spring training, will be recalled from Single-A Dunedin to rejoin the big club Tuesday. Reliever Sergio Santos will be placed on the 15-day disabled list with a triceps strain to make room on the roster.
With nagging injuries continuing to hamper the playing time of Jose Bautista, manager John Gibbons has been kept extra busy juggling his lineup.
Bautista, who did not play in Monday’s game after coming down with a sore back, had played the last two games at third base instead of his preferred spot out in right field.
During those games, right field was patrolled by Emilio Bonifacio and Rajai Davis, not exactly the defensive equals to the strong-armed Bautista.
Monday night it was Bonifacio who was back out in right while Mark DeRosa got the nod at third.
Given Bautista’s ability to plug holes in the infield, many fans were hoping that the speedy Gose would get summoned from Triple-A Buffalo to help fill the defensive void in the outfield.
Never was going to happen, Anthopoulos said.
“It’s still early in the season and he still has some things to work on,” Anthopoulos said, noting that Gose was still 0-for-2 in stolen base attempts on the year so far in Buffalo through his first eight games.
The last thing the Blue Jays want to do is treat Gose like Travis Snider, another former top prospect who never seemed to gain his big-league sea legs after several seasons of being jacked up and down from the minors.
Snider was eventually traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“That’s not to say we don’t like Anthony and he’s not going to be part of this,” Anthopoulos said. “But two weeks into the season we haven’t even talked about it.”
As far as the hurly-burly start his team has experienced, Anthopoulos said not to worry.
“I think we have enough offence to go around that if our rotation performs up to its ability I think we’ll be right there,” he said.
Mark Buehrle, pitching against his former team, gave the Blue Jays just what Anthopoulos was looking for – a solid start to earn his first victory in three outings.
Buehrle pitched into the seventh inning, scattering nine White Sox and departing with his team in front 4-2.
Even more important, Buehrle helped provide some rest to the Toronto bullpen, which has been heavily taxed of late.
“Obviously it was a little crazy,” Buehrle said about facing the team he pitched for for 12 seasons. “I tried not to take a look at too many guys as they stepped into the batter’s box because I knew I’d start laughing or something bad would happen. I just tried to focus on the glove, which is not me. Usually I’m out looking around, having fun. It was different seeing the Sox uniforms in the batter’s box. Usually it’s behind me.”
Before the game, the Blue Jays selected the contract of pitcher Ramon Ortiz from Triple A to help bolster the ranks of the relievers. To make room for Ortiz, outfielder Casper Wells was designated for assignment.
Anthopoulos said that when Lawrie is ready to return to the big-league club, which could be in a day or so, Ortiz will likely be headed back to the minors.
Buehrle managed to gather himself after a rocky first inning in which he allowed four Chicago hits – all singles – that propelled the White Sox into a quick 2-0 lead.
The Blue Jays drew even in the bottom of the inning, scoring twice, including a home run by J.P. Arencibia, his fourth of the year.
Toronto took the lead for good in the second on a solo home run poke by Maicer Izturis, his second.
Casey Janssen came on in the ninth to protect the one-run lead to earn his fourth save of the season.