TAMPA, Fla. -- Veteran reliever Frank Francisco is not in danger of losing his closer's job despite having to open the season on the disabled list.
Francisco is currently suffering from soreness in his right pectoral muscle and inflammation in his right biceps muscle. The 31-year-old will be placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to Tuesday and won't be eligible to return until at least April 6.
"We traded for him to be our closer," manager John Farrell said. "You never say that an injury takes a guy out of the mix. That's not fair to the individual, and once he regains that strength and that stamina, we expect him to be closing games out for us."
Francisco has made just two appearances this spring because of the nagging injury. He underwent an MRI on Friday, which didn't reveal any structural damage, but after experiencing continued discomfort during a bullpen session the following day, he was sent for a second opinion.
2010 Spring Training - Toronto Blue Jays
News & Features
- Blue Jays get contributions throughout lineup in win
- Lawrie's absence alters infield defense
- Gibbons returns with same approach from first stint
- Gibbons keeping options open in bullpen
- Encarnacion back in lineup at full health
Sights & Sounds
Spring Training Info
Renowned surgeon Dr. James Andrews examined the arm and pectoral muscle in Birmingham, Ala., and confirmed the initial report. Farrell is optimistic that diagnosis will remove any doubt about the severity of Francisco's injury.
"Frankie came away from the second opinion with some confidence, and more importantly, some peace of mind that might allow him to get past the physical ailments that have limited him so far," Farrell said. "That's probably as important as anything in this whole process, is that he believes it's inflammation and there's nothing structurally [wrong] there.
"If there is varying levels of discomfort going forward, he knows he can push through it without any real danger."
Right-hander Jon Rauch will open the season as Toronto's temporary closer. Rauch gained experience in that role last season in Minnesota, where he went 3-1 with a 3.12 ERA and 21 saves in 25 opportunities.
Rauch isn't the same type of hard thrower that Francisco is, but Farrell believes Rauch has an appropriate repertoire of pitches that will lead to success. Farrell used former closers Bob Wickman and Doug Jones as prime examples of that mentality.
"I think the assumption is to have a closer, you've got to have a guy that's a mid-90s type of velocity, who strikes everybody out, or he snorts and sniffles and blows fire on the mound," Farrell said. "There's a number of guys that you can quickly point to that weren't overpowering with pure stuff, but they pitched and changed speeds at a critical part in the game. More importantly, those guys threw strikes."
Lawrie sent to Minor League camp
TAMPA, Fla. -- Brett Lawrie's breakout audition has come to an end.
The Blue Jays announced prior to Wednesday night's game against the Yankees that Lawrie was returned to the club's Minor League camp.
Lawrie had made a name for himself during his first Spring Training with Toronto. He hit .282 (11-for-39) with two home runs and six RBIs in 17 Grapefruit League games.
"The fact is, we've got an exciting young player in our system," manager John Farrell said. "When he's ready to come to the big leagues and be in the lineup every day, we feel like we're going to have a player for a long, long time that's going to be a productive one."
The 21-year-old was attending his first camp with the Blue Jays, following an offseason trade with Milwaukee for No. 1 starter Shaun Marcum.
The most surprising aspect about Lawrie's spring performance was his play at third base. Lawrie was drafted as a catcher, but he rose through the ranks of Milwaukee's system as a second baseman.
During the offseason, he made the transition to third base and spent Spring Training learning the position with infield instructor Brian Butterfield and veterans such as John McDonald.
"He showed us the ability to make some adjustments and make them quickly," Farrell said. "He made a number of good defensive plays, particularly in situations where you've got a man at second [and] third, two outs, and execute a play that might in some ways be routine. But when you're changing positions and you know you've got the potential of one or two runs scoring in that situation, [it's not easy]. He executed them each time."
The native of Langley, British Columbia, is expected to start the season with Triple-A Las Vegas. Last year, he hit .285 with eight home runs and 63 RBIs in Double-A.
Toronto now has 41 players remaining in its Major League Camp -- including 11 non-roster invitees. The list includes 24 pitches, three catchers, nine infielders and five outfielders.
Rzepczynski adapting to bullpen role
TAMPA, Fla. -- Left-hander Marc Rzepczynski drew some praise from manager John Farrell for his debut as a reliever on Tuesday.
Rzepczynski struck out two during his one inning of work against the Phillies. Rzepczynski entered Spring Training looking to win a job in the rotation, but he was recently converted to the bullpen.
The 25-year-old hasn't been guaranteed a job on the team, but he is in contention for one of the final spots in Toronto's bullpen. Farrell was particularly impressed with how effective Rzepczynski's breaking ball was against left-handed hitters.
"We see him more as a weapon in that role than he otherwise might be," Farrell said of Rzepczynski, who has held lefties to a .243 batting average in his career. "That's not to say that he couldn't start at some point, but he's more effective at a very critical point time in the game in that role for us. There is a definite scenario where you look at him as a left-handed reliever and one we turn to late in the game."
Rzepczynski gained experience pitching in relief while in college, but he has only two appearances under his belt in that role at the Major League level. During his two-year career, Rzepczynski is 6-8 with a 4.32 ERA in 125 innings.