TORONTO - General manager Alex Anthopoulos is going to be patient with his pitching staff.
Anthopoulos addressed media on Monday, saying that although the Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation has struggled in the first month of the season, he's going to give it a chance to improve before making any changes.
"I've watched the games. We just have not thrown the ball well from the rotation. We haven't gotten innings out of the rotation," said Anthopoulos in the Blue Jays dugout. "Our offence has carried us, I think that goes without saying.
"But, again, these guys are all capable of going on a run and getting a lot better."
Toronto's 4.97 earned-run average is third worst in Major League Baseball, and the staff has allowed 103 walks (second worst) with opposing hitters earning a .270 batting average (fourth worst). By comparison, Blue Jays hitters have scored the most runs in the league (147), with the fifth most home runs (32) and 11th best batting average (.255).
Toronto manager John Gibbons agrees with Anthopoulos, saying that veteran pitchers like R.A. Dickey (1-3, 4.38 ERA), Mark Buehrle (3-2, 6.75 ERA) and Drew Hutchison (2-0, 7.47 ERA) deserve the benefit of the doubt.
"They've all been better in the past. One thing about the game of baseball, there's no guarantees. Some guys have off years sometimes, but we're optimists," said Gibbons. "There's no reason why they shouldn't (improve). If we're sitting at the end of July or August and you're asking me that question, then, y'know.
"But I've seen them all good and I know what they're all capable of and we expect that. Why shouldn't we?"
As Anthopoulos preached patience with the Blue Jays' veteran core, he said a bigger concern for the team was losing players to injury.
"If you have guys with a track record that have done it before, you certainly feel pretty good that they're going to turn it around, get it going," said Anthopoulos. "When guys get hurt, that's when it's hard to recover from."
Injuries have been a problem for Toronto all season.
All-star right-fielder Jose Bautista has missed time or been limited to designated hitter duty since April 27 with a sore right shoulder. Switch-hitting shortstop Jose Reyes was limited to only right-handed at bats before being put on the 15-day disabled list with a cracked rib. Backup catcher Dioner Navarro tore a hamstring and was put on the DL on April 23. On Monday, Anthopoulos said outfielder Michael Saunders would have his knee drained of fluid but that he was still available to play.
Even before opening day, starting pitcher Marcus Stroman required season-ending surgery for a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.
Although the Blue Jays traded minor league reliever Matt West to the Los Angeles Dodgers for cash considerations on Monday, Anthopoulos did not expect any other deals for the next six weeks.
"I think the soonest you see deals is mid-June and that's after the draft," said Anthopoulos. "There's a few reasons for that. One, anyone signed in the off-season as a free agent cannot be traded before mid-June without their consent and most likely most players won't consent in April-May if they just committed themselves to somewhere else.
"The other component too is that very few clubs are ready to make any determinations."
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