Jays' Roenicke Waiting In The Wings
TORONTO — Righthanded reliever Josh Roenicke lasted until the final cut of spring training. He was sent down to Triple-A Las Vegas on option with lefthanded starter Brett Cecil when the Blue Jays set their 25-man roster for opening day.
Both had options left which made the decision easier for management who kept players who had pitched well and were out of options; Roenicke losing out to righthander Merkin Valdez and Cecil to lefthander Dana Eveland.
Roenicke, a 10th-round pick by the Reds in 2006 out of UCLA, was obtained with righthander Zach Stewart and third baseman Edwin Encarnacion in the July 31 trade that sent third baseman Scott Rolen to the Reds.
Roenicke, 27, who was an outfielder and football player at UCLA before pitching 13 innings as a senior, finished 2009 with the Blue Jays going 0-0, 7.13, in 13 outings. Before changing organizations, he was 1-0, 2.57, with 12 saves for Triple-A Louisville and 0-0, 2.70, in 11 appearances for Cincinnati.
"It's pretty frustrating," Roenicke said. "Going back to the minor leagues is kind of tough to get excited about. A lot of our guys threw well. I threw well, too, but those options kill you sometimes."
Roenicke has a power arm with a fastball that has been clocked as high as 98 mph. He also has a cutter and, learning from his own experiences as a hitter at UCLA, is not afraid to challenge hitters.
"We think Roenicke's got the upside to close," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "As I was explaining to Josh when he was sent out, our 'pen in Las Vegas right now, I think we're going to have five lefthanders. I think [Steven] Register and Roenicke are going to be the only two righthanders. I think when Josh looks at that if we're looking for a righthanded reliever he should be one of the first call-ups."
• Cecil cut his thumb in a kitchen accident early in spring training and was restricted to throwing fastballs and changeups. The result was a better changeup and a realization that he did not need to depend as much on his breaking pitches.
• Lefthander Marc Rzepczynski fractured the middle finger of his left hand deflecting a comebacker against the Yankees on March 30 and that could keep him out for about six weeks.