ARLINGTON -- One of the most dominating relievers in the Minor Leagues over the past couple of seasons now has another chance to make an impact at the big league level.
The Blue Jays promoted Japanese right-hander Ryota Igarashi on Friday morning to replace left-hander Evan Crawford, who was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas.
Igarashi posted staggering numbers with the 51s this season and was just as impressive last year in Triple-A, but that success hasn't translated to the next level.
"He's obviously thrown a lot of strikes," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "He has had a lot of power to his fastball. His curveball, we have come to find out through the first six, seven weeks of the season, has been better than what our scouting reports had.
"Last year while with the Mets, he was mostly fastball, split, and he has gone more to a cutter and a power curveball. He obviously dominated the Triple-A level and the fact that we're looking for an additional power arm with strikeout capability in our bullpen. He was kind of a natural fit and a guy that we feel good abut bringing up here."
Igarashi posted a sparking 1.29 ERA in 21 innings while striking out 28 and walking just three this year in Las Vegas. The numbers compare favorably to last season in the Mets' system, where he had a 0.87 ERA in 31 innings out of the bullpen.
But the overpowering stuff didn't hold up as well in the Majors. He was 5-2 with a 5.74 ERA in 69 career innings with the Mets, but he said the addition of a cutter and curveball to his repertoire have made him a completely different pitcher this season.
"When I was with the Mets, I was primarily a fastball and split pitcher, but at the end of last year, I changed my approach and started to throw a cutter," Igarashi said through an interpreter. "Then from this year, I started throwing a curveball and those both have worked really well."
The 32-year-old, who was acquired from the Pirates during Spring Training for cash considerations, has the ability to throw multiple innings, but the club would like to limit him to one per game.
Cooper plans to seize latest opportunity
ARLINGTON -- The departure of Adam Lind has eventually led to another opportunity at the big league level for David Cooper.
Cooper was promoted before Friday night's game after outfielder Ben Francisco had been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring injury.
While it was Francisco's ailment that officially cleared room on the 25-man roster, it was last week's demotion of Lind that really cleared the way for Cooper to receive another chance with the Blue Jays.
"I knew there was a possibility," Cooper said of the looming promotion after Lind was sent to Las Vegas. "I didn't know one way or the other for sure, but now that I have it, I need to make the most of it.
"That's exactly how I'm approaching it. I don't see why anybody would approach it any differently. I just have to go out there and make the most of it and do what I can to help the team."
How much of an opportunity Cooper will receive remains to be seen. He wasn't in the lineup on Friday night and he likely is behind both Edwin Encarnacion and Yan Gomes on the depth chart for first base and designated hitter.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell said that for now, Cooper will "come off the bench," but didn't rule out the possibility that chances will come his way. When that does occur, it will be up to Cooper to seize the opportunity and build on a successful run in Triple-A Las Vegas.
With the 51s, Cooper was hitting .298 with a .378 on-base percentage and six home runs in 42 games. That's a noticeable increase in power, as Cooper hit just nine all of last season in the Pacific Coast League.
"It was something I kind of worked on," Cooper said. "Not so much doing anything different, but just trying to add a little more strength. I thought I had a lot of doubles last year and maybe if I just added 10-20 feet, maybe the balls would carry over. You don't have to hit it into the upper deck, you just have to hit it out.
"That's part of it, but also my job on the field is to drive in runs. That's the type of player I want to be and that's the player I hope to be."
Cooper made his Major League debut last season and hit .211 with two home runs, 12 RBIs and seven doubles in 27 games. The 25-year-old was the 17th pick of the 2008 First-Year Player Draft by then general manager J.P. Ricciardi.
Johnson has MRI on hamstring, starts Friday
ARLINGTON -- Kelly Johnson underwent an MRI on his sore left hamstring Friday morning and the results did not reveal any structural damage.
Johnson has been diagnosed with inflammation in his lower hamstring area, but was in the Blue Jays' lineup for the series opener against Texas and is not expected need more than an occasional day off to stay healthy.
"It's probably more monitoring," manager John Farrell said. "He did have an MRI today, he was examined by the doctor here, conferred with our own doctors and they don't feel like this is something that is going to grow into something further.
"He has some inflammation around one of the tendons in the lower part of his hamstring. So we'll monitor it, but we don't feel like we're putting him in jeopardy in any way."
Johnson is expected to receive the day off on Saturday afternoon, but should be back in the lineup the following day. In 22 games this month, the veteran second baseman has reached base safely in 21 of those contests.
The 30-year-old is hitting .250 with eight home runs and 23 RBIs in 43 games.