TORONTO - The Toronto Blue Jays will have a tough time winning games if they keep losing pitchers.
The Jays were down two more hurlers Thursday after placing left-handers B.J. Ryan and Ricky Romero on the 15-day disabled list. The moves thin out an already barren pitching staff that has performed admirably during an impressive 11-5 start to the season.
"It's certainly not good for our staff," said Jays manager Cito Gaston.
Ryan, who has blown two of his four save opportunities this season, is suffering from a tight trapezius muscle. Romero, off to a great start in his rookie season, has a right oblique muscle strain.
Ryan told Gaston that the muscle in his back and shoulder was bothering him after Wednesday's game, where Ryan blew a 7-4 lead in the ninth inning by allowing three ninth-inning runs. Toronto went on to win 8-7 in 11 innings.
Romero said he first felt the problem before his April 14 start against the Minnesota Twins when he was wearing his headset and sneezed. He had pitched with the injury but it was decided to be cautious with him and put him on the DL.
In three starts this year, Romero, 24, is 2-0 with a 1.71 earned-run average. His DL stint is retroactive to April 20.
Later, the Jays purchased the contract of pitcher Bryan Bullington from their triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas.
Two possibilities for call-ups from triple-A Las Vegas are right-handed reliever Jeremy Accardo who is 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA and three saves and left-handed starter Brian Burres who is 0-2 with a 6.97 ERA and has major-league experience.
Romero's injury came just when Gaston felt his starting rotation was taking shape with Jesse Litsch due to return soon from an elbow injury. Toronto is already dealing with injuries to starters Shawn Marcum (elbow surgery) and Dustin McGowan (shoulder surgery) that will likely keep them out for the season.
"It's a shame because this kid (Romero) really pitched well for us," Gaston said. "I was just thinking (the other day) we get Jesse back and this kid continues to pitch the way he's been pitching and (Roy Halladay) pitches the way we know he can pitch, you`ve got three guys there that are really going to help you."
Ryan had struggled with lower velocity and sketchy command since spring training but seemed to have turned things around during the weekend when he pitched twice against the Oakland Athletics. He picked up his second save of the season in Sunday's 1-0 victory in which Romero pitched seven strong innings.
Ryan's record is 1-0 with an 11.12 ERA in six outings.
"Last night after the game he felt it and I think he's been feeling it for a while," said Gaston. "It's the best thing for him to get it taken care of and get back here and help us out."
Gaston said that left-hander Scott Downs likely would be the closer, though he was not available to pitch in Thursday`s game.
"More than likely he will step into that role after (Thursday night)," Gaston said.
Gaston said Ryan's injury was not hampering him on any particular pitch.
"He really can't get through the ball," Gaston said. "It's kind of tight back there and it's keeping his arm from getting through there.
Ryan did not want to discuss the injury.
"At least we know it's something going on (rather) than absolutely nothing going on at all, so that's kind of a relief," Gaston said.
The injuries leave the Blue Jays without five of their best pitchers.
"If (David) Purcey can pitch the way he did last (Wednesday) night, and we're not going to count out (Scott) Richmond, he had a good game last time out too . . . we were starting to shape up to where we've got a pretty good staff going here and just about in one day it all went the other way," said Gaston.
"I hope the guys we bring up can help keep us above water for while until we get some guys back."