MIAMI -- For the first time in a week, the Blue Jays have finally settled on a five-man starting rotation.
Toronto's starting staff has been in limbo since the middle of June, when right-handers Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison were all placed on the 15-day disabled list within the span of five days.
The Blue Jays began planning ahead on a day-by-day basis, but following an off-day on Thursday, the new starting five has taken shape. Ricky Romero, Henderson Alvarez and Brett Cecil entered as the three with guaranteed jobs, while Jesse Chavez and Aaron Laffey have now entered the mix.
"Right now, the way we have it lined up is for Chavez to start on Sunday, Alvarez on Monday and Laffey on Tuesday," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "That's the way it's going right now, but as we have all seen, things can change. If something happens in a game and we need someone, we have to adjust."
Chavez seemed all but guaranteed to receive another crack at a starting job, but Laffey's inclusion comes as somewhat of a surprise. He won out over right-hander Carlos Villanueva, who will continue to serve in a long-relief role as the club looks to capitalize on his versatility.
Alvarez was tentatively scheduled to start Sunday in Miami, but has been pushed back a day to make room for Chavez. That also enables Alvarez to make a start at the beginning of the week against division-rival Boston.
"He'll be on his regular fifth [day]," manager John Farrell said of Chavez. "We wanted to get Henderson against the Red Sox. A little bit more of a sinkerballer in that ballpark. The comeback could be, 'Well he's put an awful high number of balls in the air,' but he's pitched well against them previous, and we're going to go in with what we feel are our best three starter matchups against Boston."
The Blue Jays face the daunting task of trying to remain competitive in the AL East while competing without three-fifths of their preferred starting rotation. The onslaught of injuries have forced Anthopoulos to explore both the waiver wire and trade route for potential upgrades, but the third-year GM won't necessarily be pressed into making a move.
"It's challenging, there's no doubt about it," Anthopoulos said. "But I'm sure if you sit with the other 29 GMs, they have their own challenges. Other teams have had their position players go down. At the end of the day, you just put your head down and accept the challenge and do what you can.
"We can't get it fixed overnight. We're going to continue to try. I don't know when the next transaction will take place, but you have to continue to move forward."
Hutchison won't need Tommy John surgery
MIAMI -- Drew Hutchison will not require Tommy John surgery, but is currently in a no-throw situation for the next four-to-six weeks.
Toronto general manager Alex Anthopoulos made the announcement on Friday evening in Miami. It was the best-case scenario for Hutchison, who was forced to leave his start on June 15 because of soreness in his right elbow.
The original diagnosis was a sprained ulnar collateral ligament, but there was an initial sense of fear that the damaged ligament could require surgery. That was ruled out after Hutchison went for a second opinion and was later re-evaluated by club doctors in Florida.
"We had our doctors in Florida finally take a look at him," Anthopoulos said. "We sent the tests to Dr. [James] Andrews, and everything was confirmed that it's a sprain. If he's feeling unbelievably well, [he could throw] in four weeks, but it may go to six.
"That being said, if it's six weeks before he throws, then starts up again and get ready, we're probably looking at September. The good part about it is that when you're talking about a UCL, you're usually talking about Tommy John surgery, because you lose a year. In Drew's case, it's not going to happen."
Hutchison had become one of the Blue Jays' most reliable pitchers when he suffered the untimely injury. Before being placed on the DL, he went 4-2 with a 3.41 ERA over his final seven starts, while striking out 32 in 37 innings.
It's another setback for a Blue Jays pitching staff that has been ravaged by injuries, but Friday's announcement came as a positive, because the results could have been a lot more severe if Hutchison needed the surgery.
"Drew did a good job in that he said he wanted to be smart about this," Anthopoulos said. "He didn't feel right, and you often see guys try to throw through things and then hurt themselves way worse. Thankfully he let the trainers know sooner rather than later and possibly avoided something a lot worse."
Pauley joins Blue Jays' bullpen in Miami
MIAMI -- The revolving door in Toronto's bullpen continued to spin on Friday, as right-hander David Pauley made his first appearance in the Blue Jays' clubhouse.
Pauley was officially added to the 25-man roster on Thursday, when right-hander Joel Carreno was optioned to Triple-A Las Vegas. The move came just days after Pauley had been designated for assignment by the Angels.
"It was kind of a strange few days," Pauley said. "I got called back up about a week ago and pitched once, but roster moves and everything, they have to happen. So I got told on Sunday that I was going back on waivers, and Wednesday morning I got called and said I got claimed here.
"Flew in from California yesterday, so nice long day of traveling, but here now and ready to go."
The addition of Pauley marked the 14th transaction the Blue Jays have made involving a total of 33 players since May 27. The vast majority of those have centered on short-term fixes for an overtaxed bullpen.
That's where Pauley is expected to fit in as he becomes another multi-inning reliever for manager John Farrell to use. The 29-year-old Pauley has posted a 4.51 ERA in parts of five seasons at the big league level, and while he has the ability to start, the native of Colorado will come out of the bullpen.
"I think we're always reviewing everything," Farrell said. "Pauley last pitched five days ago. That was an inning with the Angels. He threw a light bullpen [session] today, so he's available tonight.
"Pauley is a guy who's been successful in the big leagues. He's been a very solid multi-inning reliever. He's had some starts in the past. At this point in time, our view of him is to be in that middle-reliever group coming in."
Pauley allowed five earned runs in 10 1/3 innings this season with the Angels before he was designated for assignment.