Ryan Could Miss Opening Day

by Tim Piotrowski on March 20, 2008 @ 02:04:24 PDT


Jordan Bastian, of MLB.com, reports the Toronto Blue Jays have decided to hold closer B.J. Ryan (elbow) out of games for the time being because they want to be cautious with his elbow. Ryan said he felt some discomfort after an outing Monday, March 17. It appears unlikely that Ryan will start the season with the team, and he is expected to stay at spring training until he feels ready.

"We're not going to take him unless he can be B.J. where we use him three or four times a week. If he can't do that, then we'll just let him stay down here, let him keep pitching and eventually he'll be ready at some point. When he's ready, we'll take him," general manager J.P. Ricciardi said in the report. Ricciardi also said that team doctors believed his soreness could merely be a result of fatigue. Ryan will continue to throw on flat ground and hopes to throw off a mound Friday, March 21.

Ryan was only able to pitch in five games in 2007 before eventually undergoing Tommy John Surgery. He was able to save three games last season but lost two games to finish with an ERA of 12.46. Ryan came to spring training this season believing he would be ready to start the season and has been throwing throughout the spring. He has appeared in two one-inning outings so far this spring and has not allowed a run in either appearance. However, after his second appearance, he said he felt some discomfort in his elbow, and that is why he has been shut down for the time being. Unless Ryan is able to show the team he can pitch consistently without discomfort in the last few weeks of spring, he will likely stay at the team's spring training site to continue with this throwing program until he is able to pitch on consecutive days.

From a fantasy perspective, Ryan was already a health risk going into this season. Ryan had his surgery last May (approximately 10 months ago), and a pitcher's normal recovery from Tommy John surgery usually takes anywhere from 12 to 18 months. If he is only out for a few weeks, there will likely be several short-term options available on the waiver wire. However, if he is out for an extended period of time, owners will have a harder time finding a more established closer on waivers.

In Ryan's absence, the Blue Jays would most likely turn the closer's role over to relief pitcher Jeremy Accardo. Accardo filled the role last season and did a tremendous job, finishing the season with 30 saves and a 2.14 ERA. He also held opponents to a .206 batting average. Accardo was expected to be the team's right-handed setup man if Ryan was able to start the season. He could be a productive pickup later in drafts because of Ryan's uncertainty. If owners have already drafted Ryan, they should look to see if Accardo is available on their waiver wire.

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About Tim Piotrowski

Piotrowski has been a Hot Off the Wire analyst since 2007.

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