NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays added another much-needed reliever to their overworked bullpen by selecting the contract of right-hander Justin Germano prior to Saturday afternoon's game against the Yankees.
The addition of an eighth reliever became necessary after the bullpen was required to pitch 5 1/3 innings during a 6-4 loss to New York on Friday night.
Germano takes the spot of left-hander Aaron Laffey, who was designated for assignment after he surrendered a pair of runs and walked five batters during his start on Friday.
"He'll be coming out of the 'pen if we get into trouble early," manager John Gibbons said of Germano, who was originally scheduled to start for Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday.
Relievers Aaron Loup, Brad Lincoln and Steve Delabar were all unavailable for Saturday's game. Veteran lefty Darren Oliver also pitched on Friday and ideally wouldn't have to be used on back-to-back days, which left only Esmil Rogers, Brett Cecil and closer Casey Janssen as the available fresh arms prior to Germano's arrival.
The extended workload for the bullpen has been an ongoing storyline through the first month of the season. Entering Saturday, Toronto's relievers had been forced to throw 87 innings this year, which trails only the Astros for most in the American League.
A lot of the blame for Saturday's issues rests on Laffey. The 28-year-old got through the first two innings of his start on Friday relatively OK but seemed incapable of finding the strike zone during the third frame.
Laffey managed to throw just 23 of his 55 pitches for strikes, as a result, he was cut from the team just a few days after being claimed off waivers.
"He'll throw strikes," Gibbons said of Germano. "If you get hit, it's one thing. If you start walking the world, you can't lose that way."
JJ's MRI exam reveals no damage
NEW YORK -- Blue Jays right-hander Josh Johnson got the news he was looking for on Saturday afternoon, as the results from his recent MRI exam came back clean.
Johnson went in for an examination prior to being scratched from Friday night's start against the Yankees because of tightness in his right triceps muscle.
Toronto's No. 4 starter was confident at the time that there wasn't any serious damage in the area, but he was still able to breathe a sigh of relief after the MRI exam didn't reveal any structural issues.
"Always the first thing they look at when it's in that area is the ligament," Johnson said. "Everything looks really good. I just have to get out there and start throwing."
The results mean that Johnson should be able to avoid a stint on the 15-day disabled list. His next scheduled day to start would be next Thursday against the Red Sox, but whether he'll be able to go on that day is still up in the air.
With an off-day on Monday, the Blue Jays have some flexibility to push back Johnson's outing another day or two, but a definitive timetable won't be set until the righty resumes throwing.
"I don't know; we haven't even talked about that until I play catch," Johnson said. "Then we'll kind of figure out the schedule from there. I'll come in [on Sunday], see how it's feeling and then go from there.
"I'll start playing catch either [Sunday] or Monday and then just kind of take it from there. Probably catch, then a side [session], couple of days of catch and then pitch."
Johnson has made four starts for the Blue Jays this season but is still searching for his first win. He is currently 0-1 with a 6.86 ERA, having struck out 19 and walked nine in 19 2/3 innings.
Mechanics key as Romero begins comeback
NEW YORK -- Blue Jays left-hander Ricky Romero made his Minor League season debut on Saturday night for Class A Advanced Dunedin, and it was a success. The left-hander held the Brevard County Manatees to one run on five hits in seven innings, striking out four without issuing a walk. Romero recorded 15 groundouts against zero flyouts.
Romero spent the first month of the season working on his mechanics. The Blue Jays were attempting to have him take a more direct line to the plate and avoid pitching across his body as much as he had done in the past.
The goal was to have Romero work on those issues in bullpen sessions and simulated games before moving to a more competitive environment where there's a danger of adrenaline taking over and erasing progress.
"I haven't seen it firsthand, but I've seen some video and things look good," pitching coach Pete Walker said. "His direction looks good, arm action is good. I think it's an adjustment he was eager to make, which is great, and I think it comes down to him wanting to make the adjustment. He did, and I think he's happy where he's at right now."
Toronto's former No. 1 starter has been working with roving pitching instructor Dane Johnson at the club's Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla.
The changes were first implemented during Spring Training, and the initial hope was that they could be made in time for the start of the regular season, but that was not the case.
Once it was clear that Romero wasn't going to make the 25-man roster, there wasn't a sense of urgency in getting him ready. The Blue Jays wanted to take a patient approach and ensure the new delivery becomes locked into Romero's muscle memory so it's not something they'll have to worry about in the future.
"I think in the early going, we were hoping it would be a quick fix, but it took a little bit of time, which is fine," Walker said. "I think he feels good where he is right now, getting away from everything, and just down there working on it and knowing there's no pressure on him to perform in a Major League setting was good. I'm looking forward to the results today and looking forward to seeing him up here."
Walker said the plan for Romero in the future will ultimately be set by general manager Alex Anthopoulos and the rest of the front office. It's possible the left-hander will continue to work through his issues at Dunedin, but he could slowly ascend through the Minor League levels.