On Wednesday, Rzepczynski raised his pitching hand to show off a small black splint on the tip of the finger -- the one struck by a sharp grounder one day earlier. As he spoke about the unfortunate situation -- one that could have him sidelined for four to six weeks -- Rzepczynski looked at his hand in near disbelief. This is definitely not the way the pitcher wanted his spring to end.
"It's really frustrating," Rzepczynski said. "It's just bad timing. If it was six weeks ago in spring, it would be, 'All right, I'll be good by the end of spring and hopefully be able to break camp.' But now I'll be down here, heal up and the good thing is -- not that I want to give my arm rest -- but it's going to give me a little bit of time to get back."
With two outs in the fifth inning in an outing against the Yankees on Tuesday night, Rzepczynski was struck on the hand by a grounder off the bat of Ramiro Pena. Rzepczynski did not believe he broke his finger and was optimistic about being able to resume throwing in a few days. X-rays performed on his hand revealed a small fracture.
Rzepczynski has been instructed not to pick up a baseball for two weeks and he will be cleared to begin a throwing program at that point, if there is no lingering pain. In each his past two outings -- on Thursday and then on Tuesday -- the pitcher had a grounder ricochet off his pitching hand. Both times, Rzepczynski appeared to reach for the ball with his bare hand.
"It's just a natural reaction to do that," manager Cito Gaston said.
Rzepczynski, 24, entered camp as a favorite to land a job in the rotation, but a 6.10 ERA this spring saw his stock slip some in recent weeks. As things stand, Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero are the only locks for starting jobs. Brandon Morrow is the leading candidate for the third spot, leaving Dana Eveland, Brian Tallet and Brett Cecil in a race for the final two openings.
The Jays will likely reveal the makeup of their Opening Day roster on Thursday. Cecil started on Wednesday and was impressive over six innings against the Phillies. Eveland and Tallet appear to be locks for the staff, but Toronto is deciding if they should be in starting or relieving roles. The Jays hope to finalize all decisions before flying to Houston on Friday for a pair of exhibition games against the Astros over the weekend.
"We hope to set it before we leave, but we still have Houston," Gaston said. "We don't have to set our 25-man roster until Sunday, but we hope to do it before we leave. I like it that way, and I'm pretty sure [general manager Alex Anthopoulos] likes it that way, so we're not dragging people along and then sending them back."
One player who won't be making the trip is Rzepczynski.
"It's just one of those annoying things that had to happen right now," he said. "I guess it could be worse, because I was assuming broken bones take four to six weeks. The doctor said two weeks and I should be able to start throwing. Basically, it's pain tolerance. Once I have no pain, it's good to go."