D-Day for Jays arms

MIKE RUTSEY

, Last Updated: 6:50 AM ET

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The job for the fifth starter in the Blue Jays rotation rests today on the right arm of Victor Zambrano.

If Zambrano can prove he has the stamina to be effective over five innings, that he doesn't hit a wall and tire, as he did in his past outing, then it's his job.

But if he gets rocked by the Indians or runs out of gas in the fourth, then the role will fall to Josh Towers.

"Our rotation is going to go down to (today), we'll watch Zambrano pitch one more time," general manager J.P. Ricciardi said yesterday morning.

"We'd like to see him get to that fifth or sixth inning spot."

If Zambrano shows he's still a little shy on stamina, Ricciardi said there's a spot for him in the bullpen.

"We'll see what our options are but we wouldn't hesitate to take him (as a reliever)," he said. "He's pitched well enough to make our team."

TOWERS IN MIX

The same goes for Towers, whom Ricciardi said would be put in the bullpen if he doesn't make it as a starter.

If Towers does get the nod to start, he won't have the luxury of posting a string of bad outings and not have to worry about his role.

"If he is a starter, it's probably not a long leash," Ricciardi said.

"But his stuff looks better than it did during last season and it looks like he's back to where he was but the season has a way of changing things."

To the surprise of no one, right-hander Tomo Ohka also made the team as one of the starters, Ricciardi confirmed.

Ohka, 31, who was 4-5 for the Brewers last year, has not been bothered by the rotator cuff problem that limited him to just 18 starts in 2006.

In five appearances this spring, including four starts, Ohka has a 2.84 ERA.

He makes his final spring tuneup today in a minor league game

"We're just trying to see what lines us up best," Ricciardi said of who will be on the 12-man pitching staff.

However, there was more going on concerning the final makeup of the staff.

Prior to last night's game against the Yankees, left-hander Brian Tallet, who was out of options, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Syracuse.

Tallet has 72 hours to agree to the move or seek his release.

In another move, right-hander Geremi Gonzalez was returned to minor-leaguecamp.

Right-hander Francisco Rosario, also out of options, is on the trade block with the Phillies one of three teams that have shown interest.

"There's a couple (of trade offers), but nothing on the front-burner," Ricciardi said.

Still, the makeup of the bullpen remains clouded.

"We're still trying to figure it out," Ricciardi said.

"I think we're pretty close to understanding what we want."

As for the rest, he likes what he has seen.

"We're looking for some guys who can at least throw good enough strikes to keep us closer in games.

"(Shaun) Marcum's going to do that, (Scott) Downs has had a good spring, (Jason) Frasor's been good and (Casey) Janssen's still in the running.

"I think our bullpen is going to be different than we thought it would be, but I think the guys will attack and throw strikes."

All in all, Ricciardi believes he's entering the season with more pitching depth than he has ever had.

Lack of the same doomed the club last season.

"We can slide Marcum into a starter's role if something happens," he said.

"If Towers is not the starter or Zambrano is not the starter we can slide them into a role. And I think that (Dustin) McGowan eventually will be here at some point, he's pitching really well now."

So the Jays have accomplished their pitching goals this spring -- they believe they have depth and there's no major injuries.

That's what they prayed for.


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