Cecil returns to take on 'valuable role' in 'pen

Left-hander activated off DL, Tepera optioned to Triple-A

Cecil returns to take on 'valuable role' in 'pen

TORONTO -- The Blue Jays' bullpen has been a topic of conversation for all the wrong reasons lately, but the team welcomed back a familiar face prior to Thursday's 4-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians.

Toronto activated left-handed reliever Brett Cecil from the 15-day DL and optioned reliever Ryan Tepera to Triple-A Buffalo. Cecil has been out since May 14 with a torn lat muscle, and not only adds a lone left-handed reliever to the Blue Jays' bullpen but also a late-inning option to help bridge the gap to closer Roberto Osuna.

"He's going into a valuable role, because we need that," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We've seen him do that many times. I can't say this is his inning or that inning is his inning, but it's going to be important stuff."

Cecil appeared in Thursday's game, striking out one batter in a perfect inning of relief.

Despite starting the season 0-5 with a 5.23 ERA, Cecil has been one of the best relievers in baseball since transitioning to the bullpen full time. The University of Maryland product has averaged 56 innings since the start of the 2013 season, while pitching to a 2.67 ERA and striking out 11.5 batters per nine innings. Much of that was due to his devastating curveball, which evaded Cecil in the early part of the season. The lefty reliever has made a few slight mechanical changes working out at the team complex in Dunedin, arching his back while staying upright and believes he has rediscovered his curveball.

"I'm happy to be back and everything's feeling good," said Cecil, who pitched four innings of one-run ball between two Minor League levels on his rehab assignment. "I'm a lot more confident than I was earlier in the season. I've got my curveball back to where it needs to be, whereas I was trying to find it earlier in the season. It's a lot better and a lot sharper, so things are looking good. "

Toronto's bullpen entered Thursday's game tied for third in blown saves (11), and with the fourth-highest ERA (4.45) in the American League. The Blue Jays also lost reliever Gavin Floyd earlier in the week with a torn right lat, and the team is still awaiting the return of Franklin Morales, who is on a rehab assignment recovering from left shoulder fatigue. While Cecil described the bullpen's performance to date as "not very good," he does expect to provide a spark and believes the relief corps will turn things around.

"Hopefully it does bring back a boost of energy," Cecil said of his addition. "Hopefully I can get off to a good start and get these guys going a little bit. I'm not here to change the whole face of the bullpen, but they know what they need to do, I know what I need to do and hopefully we can all do it together."

Morales making progress

While Gibbons did not have a clear timeline on the return of Morales, the Blue Jays did say the 30-year-old lefty is making progress. Morales made two appearances for the Blue Jays earlier this season and has spent time rehabbing alongside Cecil.

"He's good," Cecil said about Morales, who has thrown four scoreless innings on his rehab assignment. "He's got a great curveball. It's pretty sharp but it's so much slower. He's throwing 88-89 mph on the fastball, he's got a little cutter from about 83-85 mph and that curveball is around 72 mph. He's getting quick outs, balls on the ground and punching guys out. He's looking good."

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.