Earlier this year Scott Downs emerged as Toronto's closer thanks to B.J. Ryan's struggles and Wednesday the Blue Jays welcomed him back from the disabled list by releasing Ryan. Ryan has been a mess, posting a 6.53 ERA with 17 walks and just 13 strikeouts in 20.2 innings while displaying decreased velocity, but the move still comes as a surprise given that he's owed $10 million for 2010.
While his days as a dominant closer may be over it wouldn't be shocking if Ryan got things together enough to be a capable middle man or left-handed specialist, yet the Blue Jays are eating the $15 million remaining on his contract rather than stashing him back on the DL or in a mop-up role. And they're doing so less than 24 hours after saying that they had no plans to let Ryan go. Something is fishy.
While the Blue Jays learn the dangers of handing five-year contracts to relievers, here are some other notes from around baseball …
* Demoted to Triple-A less than a month ago, Manny Parra is scheduled to rejoin the Brewers' rotation Thursday afternoon against the Cardinals. Parra wasn't all that great in four starts at Triple-A, posting a 2.92 ERA and 19/13 K/BB ratio, but with Seth McClung coughing up seven runs in his last outing Milwaukee decided to reverse the rotation switch that was made last month.
Parra definitely has the stuff to thrive in the majors and went 9-2 with a 3.68 ERA through mid-June last year, but since then he's 7-14 with an ugly 5.77 ERA and 1.69 WHIP in 156 innings. Plus, while he has just 44 career starts under his belt Parra is quite a bit older than his experience level and actually turns 27 years old in a few months. He still has upside, but even NL-only teams should be cautious.
* General manager Tony Reagins said Tuesday that Kelvim Escobar still feels "a deep ache" in his surgically repaired shoulder and hasn't picked up a baseball in weeks, leading to speculation that he's unlikely to pitch again this year. "We're not writing him off, by any means," Reagins said. "We're going to move forward cautiously. If we get him back, great. If we don't get him back, then we don't."
* Jose Contreras earned a mid-May demotion to the minors by going 0-5 with an 8.19 ERA, but he's been a new man since returning a month ago. Contreras held the Indians to just one run in 6.1 innings Wednesday, making him 4-2 with a 1.94 ERA and 38/6 K/BB ratio in 44 innings spread over six post-demotion starts. He's not suddenly an elite starter, but the solid 4.50-ERA guy from 2005-2008 is back.
Note: I'll be live blogging this afternoon's games over at NBCSports.com.
AL Quick Hits: David Ortiz homered and knocked in four runs Wednesday … Joe Mauer went 3-for-5 with a homer and a double off the wall Wednesday … Carlos Guillen (shoulder) is hoping to start a rehab stint this weekend … David Aardsma blew a three-run lead Wednesday as all six batters reached … Scott Rolen went 3-for-5 with a double Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to 25 games … Tim Wakefield celebrated his first All-Star selection by becoming the AL's first pitcher to 11 wins … Scott Kazmir was rocked for seven runs in 6.1 innings Wednesday, but escaped with a no-decision … David Hernandez had his third straight Quality Start on Wednesday and should stick in Baltimore's rotation … Jim Leyland said Wednesday that he plans to platoon Magglio Ordonez and Clete Thomas in right field … Moving up a day thanks to Glen Perkins' illness, Anthony Swarzak failed to make it out of the fifth frame Wednesday … Andruw Jones homered in each of his first three at-bats Wednesday, but then popped out and struck out.
NL Quick Hits: Manny Ramirez went deep Wednesday for the second time in five post-suspension games … Raul Ibanez (groin) is hoping to come off the disabled list Friday … Wandy Rodriguez totaled 11 strikeouts in a complete-game shutout Wednesday, slicing his ERA to 2.96 … General manager Mike Rizzo has made it clear that the Nationals won't deal Adam Dunn … Oliver Perez returned from the DL by handing out seven walks in five innings Wednesday … Rafael Soriano has overtaken Mike Gonzalez as the Braves' closer, picking up his fourth save of the month Wednesday … Chris Volstad threw a complete-game shutout Wednesday after going 1-5 in his previous seven starts … Homer Bailey turned in his second straight good start Wednesday and may finally be in the majors for good … Dave Bush (biceps) is slated to begin a rehab assignment Friday at Single-A.