Jays lose another starter

Blue Jays starting pitcher Drew Hutchison (left) is checked out by manager Hap Hudson (front) and...

Blue Jays starting pitcher Drew Hutchison (left) is checked out by manager Hap Hudson (front) and teammates Kelly Johnson (back) and J.P. Arencibia during a game against the Phillies at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ont., June 15, 2012. (BRETT GUNDLOCK/Reuters)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:52 PM ET

TORONTO - Alex Anthopoulos was wearing a white shirt. He should have been waving a white flag.

Hours before Friday’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies, Anthopoulos, the Toronto Blue Jays' optimistic general manager, was putting on a brave face regarding the state of the club's injury problems with its starting pitchers.

Incredibly, lightning struck the Jays once again.

Just nine pitches into the game, Drew Hutchison was forced to leave with soreness in his right elbow following a 1-1 pitch to Hunter Pence in the opening inning.

If you’re a Jays fan, at this point you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

That’s three starters injured in their last four games.

On the heels of a strained left oblique that will knock Brandon Morrow out of the rotation four-to-six weeks, at best, came the depressing news Friday that Kyle Drabek has a ligament tear in his right elbow.

Drabek will be traveling on Monday to see Dr. James Andrews and in all likelihood will require his second Tommy John surgery, putting an end to this season and at least half of the next. The hope is that will not be the case, but all signs point to the right-hander requiring surgery.

Now, you can add Hutchison, Toronto's No. 4 starter, to the casualty list.

Lefty Brett Cecil will make the start in place of Morrow on Sunday with the Jays waiting a few days before announcing just who will replace Drabek, who was placed on the disabled list.

On the field, meanwhile, things amazingly were looking up. In the Phillies, the Jays met up with a team that has a host of injury problems of its own.

Thanks to a throwing error in the fourth inning by third baseman Mike Fontenot that led to two unearned runs, the Jays snapped a three-game losing skid with a 3-0 victory.

Despite the rising negativity, Anthopoulos put on a brave face.

“It’s always tough but it happens,” he said before the game. “We’ve seen injuries across the game. They finally hit us in the middle of June.

“There’s no question you lose two of your starters it’s not a good thing. Maybe Brett can come up and do a good job for us and whoever ends up getting that start next week can do a god job for us. You can’t overreact, it happens. At the same time we still have games to play and we’re still going to try to take a run at this thing.”

Jays manager John Farrell has never experienced anything like this.

“I’ve never seen this, three starters in four days go down to injuries,” he said. “(Hutchison’s) got elbow discomfort and he’ll have more tests and have a better read on this tomorrow at some point.”

What were his immediate thoughts?

“As soon as you say never or not seen something in this game it kind of rears it’s head,” he said. “It’s not only unfortunate for Drew, for us, for all involved. We’re getting challenges thrown at us from every different angle and health right now is certainly the main one.”

GAME STUFF

With Hutchison lasting two outs and nine pitches, Aaron Laffey was the first of five relievers to come into the game for the Jays and they blanked the Phillies on four hits.

Carlos Villanueva, who tossed four of the shutout innings — the third through the sixth — collected the win.

“The feeling in the dugout was almost a rallying point,” Farrell said of how his team responded to the crisis. “Adversity brings out characteristics in everybody and we’re in the heart of that right now.

“We’ll sort this out. We’ve got to navigate through some uncertainty (with the rotation) right now. But we’ll continue on.”

WHY CECIL?

The fact that Cecil was the first arm to get the call was a mild surprise given his disappointing spring training and subsequent assignment to double-A New Hampshire where he mostly struggled. But over his past four outings, including one Tuesday at triple-A Las Vegas, their was improvement in both his command and velocity, so he got the call.

“Brett deserves it, he pitched very well in New Hampshire,” Anthopoulos said. “The reports we had gotten from the staff there were very strong. He’s worked hard, maintained his approach and we think he’ll be able to help the team.”

One of Cecil’s problems this spring was a tendency to overthrow due to velocity issues and when he did the ball came up and was whacked pretty hard. Now that he’s topping out at 90, 91 instead of 86, 87, he’s been able to show better command.


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