Gaston prepares to shut down rookies

Gaston prepares to shut down rookies

TORONTO -- The clock is ticking for Blue Jays rookies Brett Cecil and Marc Rzepczynski. The young starters are nearing their respective innings limits for this season and are scheduled to be shut down in early September.

"We're going to take their gloves away from them and lock their arms up," Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston said. "That's pretty much it -- unless something happens -- but right now, that's what we're looking at. They should be past their limit."

Including Cecil's start against the Red Sox on Thursday and Rzepczynski's scheduled outing against the Angels on Friday, the pair of pitchers each have four starts remaining this year. As things currently stand, Cecil and Rzepczynski would pitch on Sept. 4 and Sept. 5, respectively, before being removed from Toronto's rotation.

That is the plan that Gaston has discussed with general manager J.P. Ricciardi.

"J.P. and I talked about it," Gaston said. "They go back-to-back days, and that's it."

Entering Thursday, the left-handed Cecil had logged 119 1/3 innings this season between the Jays (70 1/3) and Triple-A Las Vegas (49). Cecil, 23, who was selected with the 38th overall pick in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, logged a career-high 118 2/3 innings between Class A Dunedin, Double-A New Hampshire and Triple-A in 2008.

The 23-year-old Rzepczynski -- a fifth-round pick in the 2007 Draft -- has compiled 131 innings this year between tours with Toronto (43), Las Vegas (11 1/3) and New Hampshire (76 2/3). A year ago, the young lefty worked a career-high 121 innings with Class A Lansing.

Going into the season, the Blue Jays only planned on adding 30-40 more innings to their workloads than the previous season. If Cecil and Rzepczynski average six innings over the final four starts, that would put the pitchers in the ballpark of 150 and 160 innings, respectively, falling within the organization's projections.

"They haven't gone that many innings, so you could cause an injury," Gaston explained. "That's it. We'll save them for next year, and next year, maybe you could add 20, 25, 30 innings to them, and you'd have them for a little bit longer.

"You're not going to hurt somebody to win a game -- I won't. When you're trying to have these kids be your future here, as far as pitching for the next few years here, you're not going to hurt them. You want to take them out."

Gaston said that left-hander Brian Tallet will likely shift out of the bullpen and back into the rotation to fill one of the vacated spots. The other hole will need to be filled from within Toronto's Minor League system, and left-handers David Purcey and Fabio Castro -- both at Triple-A Las Vegas -- are possible candidates.

"They're in the system somewhere," said Gaston, when asked who the other replacement might be. "I'm not sure who they are yet."

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