Liriano eager to resume working with Martin

Batterymates enjoyed success together in Pittsburgh

Liriano eager to resume working with Martin

HOUSTON -- Left-hander Francisco Liriano officially joined the Blue Jays on Wednesday afternoon, and he can't wait to start working with veteran catcher Russell Martin.

Liriano was added to the 25-man roster prior to Wednesday's game against the Astros and will make his first start for the club on Friday in Kansas City. Right-hander Mike Bolsinger was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo to make room for Liriano on the 25-man roster.

The 32-year-old Liriano worked with Martin from 2013 to 2014 in what turned out to be two of the best years of his career. His 2.92 ERA with Martin behind the plate is lower than it is with any other catcher. The two clearly developed a rapport in Pittsburgh, and although that doesn't guarantee success in Toronto, the familiarity should help.

"I think we're pretty much on the same page," Liriano said. "We have a pretty good connection. We talked before the game, and we have a pretty good idea of what we want to do. He's great behind the plate and he has a pretty idea what the hitter is looking for. He works hard every day, and he motivates a lot of guys. He's one of the best right now."

Liriano struggled for most of the season in Pittsburgh after posting three consecutive seasons there with an ERA of 3.38 or below. This year his ERA is 5.46; his biggest issue has been command, with 5.5 walks per nine innings.

He admitted that it has been a tough season and that inconsistent mechanics have played a big role, but he's looking for a fresh start with a team that is in the middle of a pennant race.

"I think I was trying too hard and my mechanics were a little off," he said. "I haven't got into a good rhythm this year. I was kind of up and down. I'd have a good outing and then a couple of bad ones in a row. It has been a tough year for me, but I'm on a new team right now, and I'm trying to put it behind me."

Tulo expected back Thursday

Troy Tulowitzki was held out of the lineup for the third consecutive game on Wednesday night because of his injured right thumb. He sustained a minor chip fracture when he was hit by a pitch during Sunday's extra-innings loss to the Orioles.

Tulowitzki gets hit by a pitch

Tulowitzki played catch and hit off a tee for the second consecutive day on Wednesday. He also took part in batting practice, and the expectation is that he will return to the lineup for the series finale vs. the Astros on Thursday night.

"He feels better," manager John Gibbons said prior to Wednesday's game. "He hit off a tee, he's going to take BP out there. Maybe, hopefully, tomorrow."

New leadoff man

Gibbons unveiled a new-look lineup on Wednesday night, with Devon Travis inserted into the leadoff spot. Jose Bautista was dropped to No. 2 in the order, with Josh Donaldson, Edwin Encarnacion and Michael Saunders rounding out the top five.

The move came after the Blue Jays scored just five runs over their previous three games. Bautista began the season as Toronto's No. 2 hitter but transitioned to the leadoff spot in the middle of May and remained there until he went on the disabled list in the middle of June.

"We talked about that at the beginning of the year," Gibbons said. "Dev might be the ideal guy. Try to get some guys on base for our run-producing guys, our main guys. We've seen spurts of it at the bottom of the lineup. If he keeps getting on base, that will make it easier. Jose keeps getting on base -- that will make it easier for the next two. We'll try it, experiment with it and see what happens."

Travis entered play on Wednesday hitting .286 with a .330 on-base percentage in 52 games this season. He also had 20 extra-base hits and 26 RBIs in 203 at-bats.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.