Blue Jays release Hamilton

Joey Hamilton's much-maligned tenure in Toronto came to an end Friday when the Blue Jays released the right-handed pitcher.

Hamilton, 30, was in the third year of a contract that paid him $7.5 million US this season. He was 5-8 with a 5.89 earned-run average.

General manager Gord Ash tried to move Hamilton before Tuesday's non-waiver trade deadline but found no takers.

"Maybe a change of scenery will do me some good," Hamilton told the Toronto Sun.

"My last six or seven games were rough. The movement on my pitches wasn't there. My location wasn't there.

"I knew the Jays tried to trade me, but with the way I was pitching nobody would take a gamble with me."

Hamilton's last start was last Sunday, when the New York Yankees peppered him with 10 hits in five innings for eight earned runs. He was booed off the mound and threw his glove into the dugout after being pulled.

Opponents were hitting a staggering .346 against Hamilton, the worst mark of any starter in the American League.

"He was hit hard," Toronto manager Buck Martinez said. "He certainly wasn't the pitcher that he has been in the past."

Hamilton joined Toronto from San Diego in 1999 in exchange for right-handed pitcher Woody Williams. Hamilton's three-year record with the Jays is 14-17 in 48 starts with a 5.83 ERA.

"He was a first-rate big league pitcher, a front of the rotation kind of guy, but now he's a different kind of pitcher," Martinez said. "It's going to be difficult for him to go out there knowing that he doesn't have the same weapons that he had when he was in San Diego."

In other moves Friday, the Jays also demoted third baseman Luis Lopez to triple-A Syracuse. Lopez appeared in 35 games for Toronto and hit .246 with four doubles, three home runs and nine RBIs. But the 27-year-old was weak defensively.

The Blue Jays promoted infielder Felipe Lopez and right-handed pitcher Brandon Lyon from Syracuse to fill the roster spots.

Felipe Lopez, 21, has split this season between double-A Tennessee where he hit .222 in 19 games and Syracuse where he was batting .279 with 19 doubles, seven triples, 14 home runs and 44 RBIs.

Lyon, who turns 22 on Aug. 10, had a 5-3 record with Syracuse in 11 starts with two complete games, a shutout and a 3.69 ERA.

"This an opportunity to get a look at one of our best young pitchers in the organization," Martinez said.