Notes: Downs' return boosts bullpen

Notes: Downs' return boosts bullpen

BALTIMORE -- For once in his life, pitching wasn't on Scott Downs' mind. While the Toronto reliever was in New York with the team on Friday, he received a call from his wife, who said she had news regarding their one-month-old daughter. Downs knew it couldn't be good when his wife asked if he was sitting down.

Downs learned that his daughter, Katherine Grayson, was sick and had to be hospitalized back home in Kentucky. Even with a three-game series against the Yankees just hours away from beginning, Downs dropped everything and caught a flight to be with his family.

"When my daughter got sick, it was almost like, it was a weird feeling. It was like baseball didn't matter at the time," Downs said. "That's the first time that it really set in that family is first. We put our families through enough as it is."

Downs was back in the visitors clubhouse with the rest of the Blue Jays prior to Tuesday's game with the Orioles -- an indication that the news must have been on the upswing. Sure enough, his daughter was back home with her mom and 3-year-old brother, Harrison. Katherine had suffered a case of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus, and was doing much better after spending three days in the hospital.

"She's back to being a happy baby," Downs said with a smile. "It wasn't an emergency, but it was something that was serious enough where they wanted to monitor her in the hospital. ... They thought pneumonia could've set it in. It could've got into her lungs, but it didn't and she handled it pretty well."

With Downs back and off the bereavement list, Toronto had to option left-hander Brian Tallet to Triple-A on Tuesday. Toronto manager John Gibbons said that Downs was available if the Jays needed to use him on his first day back.

In the four games that Downs missed, Toronto's bullpen posted an 11.37 ERA. The 'pen gave up 16 runs in 12 2/3 innings in three combined games against the Yankees and Monday's win over the Orioles.

"It's good to get Downs back," Gibbons said. "We look back, and we could've really used him in [New York], but you have to take care of your families. His daughter is doing good now."

Leading things off: Heading into this season, shortstop Russ Adams was expected to serve as the primary leadoff hitter against right-handed pitchers. For the most part, that's been the case so far. Lately, though, Gibbons has toyed with a few different options in the first slot.

On Tuesday, Alex Rios was leading off for the second time in three games -- both times against righties. Gibbons said that he'll probably stick with Rios in that role until Adams, who entered Tuesday with a .225 average -- .292 as the leadoff hitter -- starts to improve at the plate. Rios ranked fifth in the American League with a .365 average.

"This way it keeps Rios up near the top so he can get on base and do some things for the guys in the middle," Gibbons said. "We'll look at [Adams to lead off in the future] because that's how we had it set up. Alex is swinging it and Russ just hasn't been consistent yet."

Before using Rios as the leadoff hitter, Gibbons also started Frank Catalanotto in that spot on April 27. Gibbons prefers to stick with Catalanotto in the No. 2 hole.

Short stay? Reliever Jason Frasor, who struggled through April and was optioned to Triple-A on Friday, could be back with the Blue Jays next week. A player who is optioned down must remain in the Minors for a minimum of 10 days, which means May 8 would be the first day that Frasor is eligible to return. Gibbons said that could be the case.

"We'll see how things develop, but I don't anticipate him being down there long." Gibbons said. "A lot of [sending him down] was out of necessity, but he still needed to work on some things."

In his nine appearances with Toronto the right-hander posted a 10.24 ERA. Frasor gave up 11 runs on 13 hits with seven strikeouts and seven walks across 9 2/3 innings.

On Monday, Frasor turned in two scoreless innings for Syracuse. He struck out four and walked two in the SkyChiefs' 5-0 win over Durham.

Tax break: The Toronto Blue Jays were pleased by Tuesday's news that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative Government followed through on their campaign promise to reduce the Goods and Services Tax. The legislation calls for the GST to be lowered from 7 percent to 6 percent.

Once more of the specifics are announced, the Blue Jays will examine all available options for customers who have already purchased tickets for future games and those who will buy tickets after the legislation takes effect.

Quotable: "It was good to be there. It's good to be in an organization that allows you to go home and spend time with the family."
-- Downs, on taking leave to be with his daughter

Coming up: Toronto right-hander Roy Halladay (3-1, 2.84 ERA) takes the mound against Boston righty Matt Clement (2-2, 6.14 ERA) in the first game of a two-game set at 7:05 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Fenway Park.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.