Blue Jays option relievers Jenkins, Schultz to Minors

Blue Jays option relievers Jenkins, Schultz to Minors

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Projections for the Blue Jays' bullpen received some additional clarity on Wednesday when the club optioned right-handers Chad Jenkins and Bo Schultz to the Minor Leagues.

Both pitchers arrived in camp last month with the goal of cracking the Opening Day roster, but in the end they came up just short. It probably didn't help either reliever that options were remaining on their contracts and they could be sent to the Minors without clearing waivers.

The news didn't exactly come as a surprise, but it does indicate the Blue Jays have narrowed their focus in the bullpen. It also provides Jenkins and Schultz with an opportunity to get some regular work on the Minor League side of camp.

"Those guys can go down and get some more work in and start putting in some back-to-back days," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

Jenkins was one of the most underrated pieces of the Blue Jays bullpen last season. He posted a very respectable 2.56 ERA while striking out 18 and walking six over 31 2/3 innings. Despite the success, he found himself constantly being shuttled back and forth between Triple-A Buffalo because of his contractual status.

Unfortunately for Jenkins, he could be at risk of suffering a similar fate this year. Right-handers Todd Redmond and Kyle Drabek are among the relievers competing for jobs who don't have options remaining and must clear waivers before going to the Minor Leagues.

Jenkins didn't exactly do himself any favors this spring, with eight runs allowed over 6 2/3 innings, but a lot of that had to do with learning a new pitch. Toronto asked Jenkins to start throwing a cut fastball to increase his performance against lefties, and as expected, there were some bumps along the way.

"I think it was only a couple of outings where he got hit around," Gibbons said. "There were a couple of outings in there I thought he was very good. To become a complete pitcher, be a good bullpen guy, he's got to figure out a way to get left-handers out, and that's the pitch to do it. Really, the time's finished here where he can experiment with it."

Closer Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup, Steve Delabar, Marco Estrada and Miguel Castro appear to have secure jobs in the bullpen. That would leave two spots up for grabs from a group that includes lefty Colt Hynes, lefty Jeff Francis, Roberto Osuna, Redmond and Drabek.

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.