Roenicke hoping for shot to close

Roenicke hoping for shot to close

OAKLAND -- At some point in the near future, the Blue Jays will be looking for a closer. Josh Roenicke -- acquired in the trade that sent veteran third baseman Scott Rolen to the Reds on Friday -- is hoping he might receive a chance to show he can handle that role.

"I'd love that," Roenicke said. "That was always my goal -- to close in the big leagues. If I get the opportunity, that's all I an ask for and just do what I can. That'd be a great role for me, I think, and obviously it'd help the team out. I'll do what I can wherever they put me."

Toronto released former closer B.J. Ryan earlier this season due to the lefty's persistent struggles and Scott Downs, who took over for Ryan earlier in the year, is only signed through 2010. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston wants to spend time evaluating Roenicke before labeling him a candidate for the club's ninth-inning job down the road.

"We'll wait and see. We'll see how he fares here," Gaston said. "We're not going to rush him into anything. ... You can have the arm, but you certainly have to have the makeup for it. I know that from '94, when we got off to a great start and I tried everybody and their brother in that role."

There is no denying that the right-handed Roenicke has the stuff to potentially land such a job in his future. His fastball touches 98 mph and his slider has become a valuable weapon. The Blue Jays have had their eye on Roenicke's arm for some time now and were thrilled to pry him away from Cincinnati.

Roenicke, who will turn 27 on Tuesday, posted a 2.70 ERA in 11 games out of the Reds' bullpen this season. In 27 games with Triple-A Louisville this year, he fashioned a 2.57 ERA with 32 strikeouts and six walks over 28 innings. Since being selected in the 10th round of the 2006 Draft, Roenicke earned a reputation as the hardest-throwing pitcher in the Reds' system.

Roenicke -- already friends with Toronto pitchers Ricky Romero and Casey Janssen -- was caught off guard by the trade but is thrilled to be joining the Jays' bullpen.

"I knew the deadline was coming up, obviously," Roenicke said. "There was only a couple minutes left [when I found out]. ... It was a surprise, but it was out of my control, and I'm happy to be here. I'll just go out there and do what I can to help the team and have fun."

Pitching matchup
TOR: LHP Ricky Romero (9-4, 3.59 ERA)
Romero wasn't real sharp in his last outing against the Mariners, but he managed to give a solid six innings in an 11-4 win. He gave up four runs and 10 hits, but said he was happy with the way he attacked the strike zone and pitched to contact. Romero has been a reliable arm for the Jays all season. His 11 quality starts are the second most in the Majors for a rookie. He's never faced the A's.

OAK: RHP Vin Mazzaro (2-7, 5.16 ERA)
Mazzaro, a 22-year-old rookie, won the first two starts of his career but is winless in nine subsequent assignments. It took a game-tying, three-run rally in the ninth inning on Tuesday to prevent him from becoming the first A's starter to lose seven consecutive starts since Brian Kingman lost nine in a row in 1980. Mazzaro, who dominates when he keeps his fastball below the knees or above the belt, again struggled with location his last time out. He gave up five runs in the third inning against the host Red Sox. In all, he was charged with six runs on nine hits and two walks while striking out three over six innings. Mazzaro has never faced the Blue Jays.

Bird feed
Second baseman Aaron Hill singled in the second inning on Saturday to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. Hill's four RBIs in the game marked a career high. ... In the fourth inning on Saturday, Hill belted his 25th homer of the season. That represents the most homers in a season by a Jays player since Frank Thomas launched 26 long balls in 2007. ... Toronto finished July with an 8-16 record, marking the first time the club did not win 10 games in a month since August 2004 (9-20). The last time the Jays had eight or fewer wins in a month came in April 2004 (7-15). ... Entering Saturday, Marco Scutaro led all Major League shortstops with a .993 fielding percentage. Scutaro had committed only three errors in a Major League-leading 453 total chances.

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Up next
• Monday: Off-day
• Tuesday: Blue Jays (Roy Halladay, 11-4, 2.68) vs. Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 8-6, 4.51), 7:07 p.m. ET
• Wednesday: Blue Jays (TBD) vs. Yankees (Andy Pettitte, 8-6, 4.51), 7:07 p.m. ET

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