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Marcum exits early with injury in loss

Marcum exits early with injury in loss

TORONTO -- Shaun Marcum doesn't want his last act of this season to be a discouraging walk from the mound to the training room at Rogers Centre. Under the circumstances, though, the chances of the pitcher making a return to the mound this year for the Blue Jays appear slim.

After discomfort spread from Marcum's right forearm down into his hand, the starter exited Tuesday's 2-0 loss to the Orioles with no outs in the third inning. Given that Marcum already has a history of arm trouble this year, and Toronto has a mere 11 games left on its schedule, the club might lean toward shutting the pitcher down.

"You're going to consider that," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "Because 11 games left, and he has, what, two starts? Let's see what the doctor says. If they recommend we shut him down, we probably will."

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Following his abrupt departure, Marcum spent the majority of Toronto's loss to Baltimore being examined by head trainer George Poulis. Marcum said he'll visit a doctor on Tuesday and he's hoping to hear that he can resume his regular routine. The last thing Marcum wants to hear is that his season is over, though that's more than a possibility.

Shortly after O's rookie Chris Waters finished quieting the Jays' bats with a shutout, Marcum indicated that his throwing hand was still cold and his forearm still tight. Even with the risk of doing more damage to his arm, Marcum desperately wants to take his final two turns in the rotation for Toronto (80-71).

Marcum believes he's still pitching for his job.

"Hopefully, I'm not shut down," Marcum said. "I don't have anything guaranteed to me for next year, so I've got to come out and pitch and show these guys that I can be in the rotation next year as well.

"Nobody wants to end the season hurt. Everybody wants to go out with a bang. I wanted to end the season like my last two starts. I wanted to keep going like that and end the season on a good note."

Marcum has some reason to fear that his job might not be as secure as he once believed. After all, the right-hander's previous two outings came after the Blue Jays shipped him to Triple-A Syracuse for a brief stay. After returning to the rotation on Sept. 6, Marcum went 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA in his first two appearances, striking out 13 and walking four in 14 1/3 innings.

The control that Marcum displayed in those outings abandoned him against Baltimore (67-82). The 26-year-old needed 52 pitches to work through the 11 batters he faced, and only 28 of those throws registered as strikes. Marcum issued three walks in his two innings and allowed one run before Gaston decided he'd seen enough.

Gaston said he saw Marcum shaking his right hand on the mound, prompting the manager to head to the hill with Poulis after the pitcher walked Baltimore's Nick Markakis in the third. The sensation in Marcum's arm was different than the right elbow injury he suffered in June, but after a brief discussion on the field, he retreated to the clubhouse.

"It was kind of weird," said Marcum, who missed a month between June and July with the prior arm issue. "I've never had numbness in my pinkie finger or the kind of the feeling I had in my forearm."

Marcum said he didn't feel anything wrong before the game.

"I didn't feel it at all actually warming up," Marcum said. "I got around a couple changeups a little too much and it may have done something to strain the forearm muscle or something there. We'll find out and re-evaluate it once we see the doctors."

After pulling Marcum from the game, Gaston turned to left-handed reliever John Parrish, who is a candidate, along with right-hander Scott Richmond, to potentially take Marcum's spot in the rotation. Parrish escaped a bases-loaded jam to end the third inning, but then yielded a solo home run to Baltimore's Luke Scott to open the fourth.

That put the Blue Jays behind, 2-0, which proved to be too large a deficit to overcome against the 28-year-old Waters (3-3). The left-hander scattered four hits -- three singles -- and finished with three strikeouts and a pair of walks. It was a dismal showing by Toronto's offense, which looked out of sorts all evening.

Gaston wondered aloud if there was any carryover from the Jays' disheartening series defeat in Boston over the weekend. Toronto, coming off a stretch of 11 wins in 12 games at the time, entered that critical series hoping to breathe some life into its playoff hopes -- only to drop three of four games to the Red Sox.

"I think we were flat with the bats -- that's for sure," Gaston said. "We were a little flat tonight. I don't know if it's because of what happened in Boston, or certainly the hype of the last road trip and the weekend before we left here.

"There are 11 more games, but we want to play. If we're going to play 11 games, we're going to play them hard. We'll see a different team out tomorrow."

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

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