These are the Saddest of Possible Words...
And no, it ain't Tinker to Evers to Chance
These particular words are:
To whom B.J. Ryan will be paying a visit this week with some undetermined elbow inflammation. Blue Jays fans may commence panicking now.
Just kidding. The Jays are very proactive with the health of their pitchers. They were careful with Burnett last season, and with Halladay before that. Both have avoided the surgeon's table so far. This is not a club that would have put Francisco Liriano back on a mound last September.
With luck, Ryan's elbow troubles will be a mild strain that requires simple rest. There is always the possibility that this is something serious and that words like "Tommy John" and "season-ending" are around the corner. That would be a disaster for team that hopes to contend, to have a $9 million asset on the bench for at least a year.
It might be a disaster that the Jays can cope with. They have an interesting assortment of arms in the pen, with guys like Marcum, Janssen and Zambrano, who can all work multiple innings. They also have a manager in John Gibbons, who doesn't seem married to the idea of naming a "closer." Witness Sunday's game, in which Jason Frasor, the logical heir apparent to Ryan, was deemed unavailable because of his 1 1/3 innings on Saturday. In steps Marcum, who disposes of Placido Polanco, Gary Sheffield and Magglio Ordonez in order. By rotating fresh arms in and out, there's a chance that the dreaded "bullpen by committee" might actually work.
And the Jays aren't the only AL East team with some injury woes. The Yankees have placed Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano on the 15-day DL. Granted, history dictates that whenever the Yankees are forced to play a young call-up, he plays great. Fernandez hurt? Call up that Jeter kid. Tony Womack really is a washed up 35-year-old? Fine, we'll try this Robinson Cano. All the way back to Wally Pipp going down and being replaced by that Gehrig fellow. So, with any luck, the Yankees will discover a Cy Young candidate. On the bright side, uber closer Mariano Rivera crashed and burned badly on Sunday, allowing a 3-run rally with two outs in the ninth. Things are definitely not all smiles and sunshine in the Bronx.