Toronto injuries thin 51s’ pitching

When a major league team loses its entire starting rotation to injury, that’s trouble.

And that trouble is guaranteed to cause considerable ripples for the team’s minor league affiliates.

Those are the predicaments the Toronto Blue Jays and the Las Vegas 51s are facing.

It has been a busy week in Toronto, where the Blue Jays put major league victory leader Roy Halladay (10-1) on the disabled list Thursday with a strained groin. Fellow starter Casey Janssen (shoulder) and closer Scott Downs (toe) also were placed on the DL.

That resulted in Brad Mills and Jeremy Accardo of the 51s heading to the Blue Jays while Las Vegas welcomed back Sean Stidfole and called up Edward Buzachero from Double-A New Hampshire.

Those moves brought to 20 the number of pitchers the 51s have used this season. In 2008, while serving as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate, the 51s used 29 pitchers.

51s manager Mike Basso and pitching coach Dave LaRoche merely shrug and say, "That’s baseball."

"Our job is to get those guys ready," Basso said of Mills and Accardo, who pitched in Toronto’s 8-7 victory at Philadelphia on Thursday. It was Mills’ major league debut, and he allowed four runs and six hits in a start lasting 3 2/3 innings. Accardo got a save.

LaRoche said communication is vital when a staff is undergoing so much change.

"Sometimes you have to piece together these things," he said. "We’ll talk to the catcher and pitcher between innings, see what works, what doesn’t."

Of the 20 pitchers the 51s have used, only three from the Opening Day roster were still at Cashman Field on Thursday when Las Vegas beat Portland, 4-3. T.J. Beam, Jonah Bayliss and Fabio Castro have spent all season at Triple A. Everyone else has been called up to Toronto, sent down to Manchester, N.H., or released.

Brian Burres was among the call-ups but was ineffective in the majors, going 0-2 in mid-May, and is back in Las Vegas.

"It happens," said Burres, who pitched a four-hitter at Reno on Wednesday, blanking the Aces, 5-0. "But the thing is we’re sending good guys up there (to Toronto) and we’re replacing them with good guys here, so not much changes.

"Sometimes you’re short a guy or two and everyone’s got to suck it up."

Burres, 7-10 with the Baltimore Orioles last year, said change is something every team has to deal with.

"Every year someone’s going to get hurt," he said. "There’s some pressure on the guys who get called up to produce, especially the guys who are getting their first licks up there. You can try too hard and your adrenaline is going. But everyone has a job to do, and you do it the best you can."

Basso said the situation in Toronto has been mind-boggling, having so many pitchers on the DL. But he has been through crazy seasons before.

"It’s an extraordinary series of events," Basso said. "But I remember my year in Syracuse (2006), we had 143 (roster) moves, both up and down. That was a lot of moves."

Contact reporter Steve Carp at scarp@ reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913.

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