Blue Jays call up three relievers for taxed bullpen

ATLANTA -- There was a lot of Blue Jays-related traffic headed to Atlanta Tuesday night following the conclusion of the Blue Jays' two-game set with the Atlanta Braves in addition to the team's charter.

The Blue Jays called up a trio of pitchers, righty reliever Neil Wagner, lefty reliever Juan Perez and righty starter/long-reliever Todd Redmond following the game. They also sent righty reliever Thad Weber to Triple-A Buffalo and designated righty Ramon Ortiz for assignment.

The influx of pitchers coming to Atlanta was a result of Toronto having to use its already exhausted bullpen the final eight innings of the 7-6, 10-inning loss on Tuesday, after starter Brandon Morrow left the game after two innings with forearm pain.

"You look at tonight's game, it's really a game of survival," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We're so beat up in the 'pen, with [Esmil] Rogers, he's limited in what he can do tonight, anyway. So we brought up three guys. There's a good chance all three of them are going to pitch."

Rogers is making his first start as a Blue Jay and his 23rd appearance of the season. His longest outing has been three innings, something he's done twice. Fortunately, it's in his last two outings, against Tampa Bay on May 21 and Baltimore on May 24. He didn't allow a run and surrendered only five hits total.

Still, Gibbons is scaling down his expectations for his starter.

"You really don't know. Five innings would probably stretch it," he said. "It all depends on how many pitches he throws. We'll see. They're a free-swinging club. Hopefully that will help out, get some early quick innings and we'll see where he's at."

Gibbons has confidence in the new arrivals. Wagner, 29, has a 1-0 record with a 0.89 ERA, allowing 10 hits, while striking out 32 in 20 1/3 innings at Triple-A. Perez, 34, also has been dominant at Buffalo, pitching to a 0.86 ERA in 17 appearances, all in relief, he's allowed 12 hits in 21.0 innings, striking out 25 and walking 11.

While both have the stuff to be closers, the Blue Jays aren't looking past Wednesday, where they'll look for them to go a little longer.

"Wagner's gone three before, Perez has gone 2 1/3, 2 2/3," said GM Alex Anthopoulos. "Ideally they'd be one-inning guys in a perfect scenario, but they have gone two or three in the past. The way that the bullpen is a little bit taxed, they may need to go two or three tonight."

In case things go less than perfect, Redmond is a starter, who actually came up through the Atlanta Braves system, getting as high as Triple-A Gwinnett before being traded to Cincinnati last year. He's since pitched with Baltimore and was claimed off waivers by the Blue Jays on March 22nd.

Redmond, who has had to deal with shoulder impingement this season, has made one start with Triple-A Buffalo and has a 1-0 record and 9.53 ERA. For his career, he is 72-61 in 209 games, 201 starts with a 3.60 ERA.

"It's more length. He's a guy that's built up to start," said Anthopoulos. "He's done it before. He throws strikes. He's fresh, we needed length and he's one guy who we knew no matter what could give us length and throw strikes."

Toronto's bullpen comes into action Wednesday night having thrown 189 1/3 innings, second in the Majors, behind only Houston.

Jon Cooper is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.