Blue Jays release catcher Saltalamacchia

Blue Jays release catcher Saltalamacchia

NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays officially cut ties with Jarrod Saltalamacchia by releasing the former backup catcher on Wednesday afternoon.

Saltalamacchia was designated for assignment last week after he began the season with 16 strikeouts in 25 at-bats. Luke Maile has since replaced him as the club's second option behind the plate after starter Russell Martin.

The 32-year-old Saltalamacchia signed a Minor League deal with the Blue Jays prior to the start of Spring Training. Saltalamacchia's $1.25 million deal became guaranteed when he made the team at the end of camp, and Toronto owes him the remainder of that balance.

He is a career .233/.307/.409 hitter, but Saltalamacchia didn't come close to that kind of production in Toronto. He also had some defensive issues behind the plate, which prompted the Blue Jays to give his spot to the glove-first Maile.

On the mend

Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ played catch on Tuesday, but there is still no timetable for his return. Happ has not pitched off a mound since he departed a game vs. the Orioles on April 16 because of inflammation in his left elbow.

Happ already has been ruled out for Tuesday, when the Blue Jays need to add another starter to the roster. He also likely will require a rehab assignment once fully healthy because of his lengthy absence.

"Stretched out a little bit and felt really good, but he's a ways off," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.

In other injury news, Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitzki continue to rehab from their injuries at the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla. Both players have shown some improvement but likely won't return to action until at least Monday when the Blue Jays open a series at home vs. Edwin Encarnacion and the Indians.

"Tulowitzki and Donaldson are taking ground balls and taking BP down there, doing a little bit of running-type stuff," Gibbons said. "They're both making progress, but I don't know any more than that."

Trouble with the slider

Right-hander Jason Grilli saw his struggles continue during Tuesday night's 11-5 loss to the Yankees. He started the seventh inning but allowed a pair of runners to reach base and then served up a three-run homer to Aaron Judge. Grilli was pulled from the game after that at-bat without recording an out.

The home run came on a hanging slider, and that has been an ongoing problem for Grilli, who has allowed 10 runs over 8 2/3 innings this season. The issue is not strikes, but location within the strike zone.

"I think he's hanging it, or it's backing up on him," Gibbons said. "You don't base everything on velocity, but certain guys it's a big part of what they do. I just think there have been too many mistakes in the middle of the plate is what's costing him."

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for 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.