Veteran pitcher said he grew up idolizing the club as a kid
By Alykhan Ravjiani
TORONTO -- The last 48 hours have been a whirlwind for new Blue Jays reliever Jason Grilli, but the veteran right-hander expressed excitement about his new club prior to Toronto's 7-0 win in the series finale against the Yankees on Wednesday.
Grilli was acquired on Tuesday from the Braves along with cash considerations for prospect Sean Ratcliffe, and he is relishing the opportunity to be a part of a team with postseason aspirations. Grilli's father, Steve, played parts of four seasons in the Major Leagues and got into a game as a member of the Blue Jays during Jason's childhood.
"I'm very excited," Grilli said. "To be on a contending team and a team that I grew up watching and idolizing as a kid, it's surreal. This blue feels good on."
Returning from a torn left Achilles injury which ended his season last July, Grilli struggled to start the season. Grilli's recent performance has been much better, however, and the 39-year-old got Carlos Beltran to line out to center to end the seventh inning on Wednesday and preserve the Blue Jays' 2-0 lead.
Grilli, who pitched to a 2.94 ERA and racked up 24 saves for the Braves last season, believes his last few outings are more indicative of the results he'll bring to Toronto.
"I'm not even a year out of surgery yet," Grilli said. "I don't want to say it's an alibi or an excuse, but it's a reason. I don't think a lot of people had me pegged for Opening Day; I worked my butt off to get there. Who I am, what I'm about, I've figured out the comeback. I've been good at that."
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons expressed a desire to see Grilli pitch in a variety of scenarios, and hopefully complement the young arms of Joe Biagini and Roberto Osuna at the back end of the bullpen.
Toronto's relievers have struggled to match the team's superb starting rotation a third of the way through the season, entering play Wednesday tied for first in the Majors in losses (14), ninth in the American League in ERA (3.80) and tied for fifth in home runs allowed (20).
"We'll get a look at him later in the game and see how he pitches," Gibbons said about the former All-Star closer. "He could [pitch in the] seventh or eighth inning depending on the matchups. We'll give him a look. We know a little bit about him, but we don't know everything about him."
• The Blue Jays optioned left-hander Chad Girodo to Triple-A Buffalo to make room on the 25-man roster for Grilli. Toronto is carrying eight arms in the bullpen, leaving only infielder Ryan Goins, outfielder Ezequiel Carrera and backup catcher Josh Thole on the bench. Gibbons said the Blue Jays will likely carry eight relievers until shortstop Troy Tulowitzki recovers from his right quad strain and is activated off the DL.
"Unless something pops up where we need to make a move, that's the plan," Gibbons said. "We're pretty set."
• Gibbons complimented Biagini and said at no point during the season has he had any thoughts of offering the 26-year-old rookie back to the Giants. Biagini was a Rule 5 selection in the offseason and made the team after a terrific showing in Spring Training. The right-hander has become a valuable member at the back end of Toronto's bullpen, compiling a 3-1 record with a 0.86 ERA in 17 games.
"Not once he made the team, no," Gibbons said about the prospect of offering back Biagini. "It really came down to we like what we see, we have to at least give him a shot."
• The Blue Jays made a minor trade prior to Wednesday's game, sending utility man Jimmy Paredes to the Phillies for cash considerations. Toronto designated Paredes for assignment on Monday, after initially claiming him from the Orioles on May 16. The 27-year-old switch-hitter got into seven games for Toronto and went 4-for-15 with a home run and two RBIs.
Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.