Blue Jays DFA Latos, grab Valdez off waivers

Blue Jays DFA Latos, grab Valdez off waivers

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Blue Jays designated starter Mat Latos for assignment in a flurry of roster moves before Friday's game against the Rays.

Toronto filled Latos' spot on the 40-man roster with right-hander Cesar Valdez, who was claimed off waivers from Oakland earlier in the day and optioned to Triple-A Buffalo. The team also activated reliever Neil Ramirez, who was picked up off of waivers from the Giants on Thursday.

In his last start, Latos was tagged by the Yankees for seven earned runs on 10 hits -- including four home runs -- in four innings of work. The veteran right-hander was 0-1 with a 6.60 ERA in three starts this season. He had 10 strikeouts and eight walks in 15 innings.

"His last outing, he wasn't very good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "But then we picked up this other kid too, and you have to make a move, so it was a combination."

Because of the move, Toronto is hoping to get four innings from long reliever Joe Biagini, who will make a spot start against the Rays on Sunday. It will be the first regular-season start of his Major League career. Gibbons said depending on Biagini's performance, the move could become permanent.

"Who knows what will happen with it?" Gibbons said. "Who knows how long it'll last? I think he has a chance to be a good one, and deep down I think that's his desire."

Gibbons admitted Biagini's move to the rotation would leave a big hole in the bullpen. In 18 2/3 innings this season, Biagini held opponents to a .227 average while striking out 17 and walking three.

The Blue Jays will likely give Ramirez an extended look out of the bullpen. Ramirez, who joins his fifth team in four years, has a career 3.72 ERA in 96 appearances. He allowed 10 earned runs in 10 1/3 innings this year with San Francisco.

"I'm going to take the positive from over there, and try and bring it here to try and help these guys win some games," Ramirez said. "I've watched this team in the playoffs last year, and obviously the pieces are here to be a really good team, so my focus is to come here and help them win."

Blue Jays progressing
• Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez will throw a bullpen session in extended spring training at the team's facility in Dunedin, Fla., on Sunday. The hard-throwing Sanchez lasted just one inning because of a split fingernail in his last start on April 30. It was his first appearance since blisters on the middle finger of his pitching hand forced him to the 10-day disabled list.

If there are no setbacks, Sanchez would make a rehab start with the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays on Tuesday, and could be available as soon as the following weekend.

Gibbons did not name a replacement for Sanchez, but said it would likely involve a Triple-A candidate.

• Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki (hamstring) and third baseman Josh Donaldson (calf), who have also been working out in Dunedin, could make a cameo in St. Petersburg over the weekend but aren't expected to play until the team returns home next week.

"Everyone says that they are moving in the right direction," Gibbons said.

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.