Ricciardi admits to misleading fans and media

Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi at a press conference. Ricciardi admits to fabricating the...

Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi at a press conference. Ricciardi admits to fabricating the nature of B.J. Ryan's injury during spring training. (Toronto Sun file photo)

MIKE RUTSEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:33 AM ET

ARLINGTON, Tex. -- J.P. Ricciardi says what's the big whoop?

Following the Blue Jays' 6-5 loss to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday, Ricciardi, the Blue Jays' general manager, told the Fan 590 that the club fabricated the nature of closer B.J. Ryan's injury during spring training.

Back in March, Ryan was shut down for two weeks with what the club said was a lower back injury.

But it wasn't his back. Ricciardi told the Fan 590 it was Ryan's elbow that was bothering him, the same elbow that currently has Ryan on the 60-day disabled list because of a strained ligament.

When reached yesterday, Ricciardi said they decided to call it a back injury during spring training "to protect our player."

"We didn't want the media to bother Ryan every day asking him 'How's your elbow? How are you feeling? Are you going to throw today? Are you feeling good?' " Ricciardi said.

"And it's the first thing we've ever kept from you guys. It's not like we tell you guys it's an upper body injury (which appeared to be a shot at the Maple Leafs)."

Ricciardi wouldn't go into the specific reasons which led them to fabricate the nature of the injury but a good guess is Ryan's personality.

He can be crusty, is not one for idle chatter and is no fan of media scrutiny at the best of times.

Ricciardi, meanwhile, was more concerned about the plight of his team, still without four of its top players -- Ryan, left fielder Reed Johnson, catcher Gregg Zaun and starter Gustavo Chacin -- which was just swept in a three-game series in Cleveland.

"We just have to get through it," he said of the injuries.

"It's a long year, there's a lot of baseball left.

"You've got to be a man about it. We can't sit here and say: 'We're minus our catcher, we're minus our closer, we're minus our starting left fielder.' Nobody's going to feel sorry for you."

Of all the injuries they have had to date, Ricciardi rates Ryan's as the most critical to the team's success.

All he has to do is point to the two games before last night, in which the bullpen could not hold the lead and lost the games in the late innings.

"We can handle the loss of Reed, we can handle the loss of Zaun but we can't handle Ryan, that's a tough one," Ricciardi said. "It's the closer that's hard to lose. It's the reason why we gave him $47 million (US).

"You saw what he was last year. That's the comfort of having that guy. And it's not fair to some of the other guys (such as Jason Frasor) to go into that role. That's a tough spot."

Even though his club is reeling with a 13-16 record including a loss last night to the Rangers, Ricciardi can find some bright spots.

"If you look at every game, our pitching has been good," he said. "We just haven't been able to put people away (when they get the lead). We're just scuffling, we're going through a bad time right now.

"But the thing I like is that this is a good group. They're battling right now. We're not playing our best baseball and we're still in every game that we've played and that's a credit to the guys. They're battling their asses off."

"It's still early in the season and I don't think we need to panic. We just need to be ourselves and kind of get some wins underneath us and have everybody take a deep breath."


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