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Gibbons has tough bullpen decisions to make

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NEW YORK -- The lack of innings being thrown by the rotation has led to a lot of headaches for manager John Gibbons when it comes to deciding how to properly use his bullpen.

Toronto has received only two outings from its starters that have lasted at least seven innings. The rotation entered play on Friday night having thrown 126 1/3 innings, seventh in the American League.

The by-product of that is the bullpen being forced to throw 81 2/3 innings, which trails only the Astros for the most in the AL. That has Gibbons and the front office debating about whether to go with an eight-man bullpen.

"It's something we might have to do," Gibbons said. "It definitely hasn't gone as planned, put it that way. We've had to use that 'pen a lot, we'll see how everything goes.

"Some of the guys on the team, it's tough to just discard guys, too, you know? We'll be fine. With that day off Monday, if R.A. pitches Sunday, we'll be in good shape."

The transition to an eight-man bullpen will be easier said than done. Designated hitter Adam Lind is set to rejoin the club on Sunday after taking a brief leave of absence following the birth of his second child.

That will require another transaction after the promotion of right-hander Brad Lincoln from Triple-A to fill Lind's spot on the 25-man roster. When Lind does return, that would give the Blue Jays a four-man bench with Mark DeRosa, Emilio Bonifacio, Rajai Davis and backup catcher Henry Blanco.

There aren't a lot of suitable options there -- unless right-hander Josh Johnson needs to go on the disabled list -- and Gibbons may be forced into sticking with the status quo despite the stress it has caused the pitching staff.

"There's a lot of games where we're using guys just to use them. There's really no strategy or anything like that, we've got to cover some innings here," he said. "That takes its toll. Ideally, you use certain guys when you're winning, certain guys when you're even, that kind of thing."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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