Neil Wagner recalled from triple-A Buffalo by Blue Jays
Toronto options fellow hurler Marcus Walden to minors
The Toronto Blue Jays recalled Neil Wagner from the Buffalo Bisons on Wednesday and optioned fellow right-hander Marcus Walden to the triple-A club.
Wagner, 30, appeared in 36 games for the Blue Jays last season, posting a 2-4 record with a 3.79 earned-run average. He gives Toronto another hard-throwing right-handed option out of the bullpen.
"It made sense to get a little more firepower late [in games]," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said before Wednesday's game against the Houston Astros.
Wagner played 23 games with Buffalo in 2013 and had 16 saves with a 0.76 ERA. The six-foot 215-pound Minneapolis native has not allowed a run in two appearances with the Bisons this season, earning saves in both outings.
Gibbons said Wagner impressed him last season and again this year at spring training.
"He came into his own," he said of Wagner's performance last year. "He started out in triple-A and put it all together, came up and did a nice job for us. He's got that big arm. That's what you like to see coming late in the game. The key for him was he started finding that strike zone consistently.
"That's something that had deserted him in his career until last year. Yeah, we expect him to fill a big role for us."
Janssen looks 'really, really good'
The Toronto bullpen is missing closer Casey Janssen, who's on the 15-day disabled list with a strain in his left abdominal area and lower back. Gibbons said pitching coach Pete Walker thought Janssen looked "really, really good" in a bullpen session earlier in the day.
"He'll throw one more side [session] and then we'll just see where he's at," Gibbons said of the veteran right-hander. "He may go out on a rehab [assignment] after that. If he's not really good, then he'll throw another one."
"Pete said he really picked it up today compared to his last one," Gibbons added.
Janssen, who went on the DL on March 30, was 4-1 last year with 34 saves and a 2.56 ERA.
Toronto shortstop Jose Reyes, who's on the 15-day DL with a hamstring injury, did some light running Wednesday and took some swings in the batting cage. His lone game appearance came in a season-opening loss to Tampa Bay.
"He's making progress," Gibbons said. "This next road trip we'll get him out there running the bases a little bit. He's moving along pretty good."
Second baseman Maicer Izturis was slotted into the second spot in the batting order against the Astros. Izturis has yet to drive in a run this season but he's batting at a .421 clip.
"He's swinging it," Gibbons said. "He's been one of our hottest hitters. So we'll get him up there and see what happens."
Izturis batted in the No. 8 position Tuesday when the Blue Jays opened the three-game series with a 5-2 victory at Rogers Centre. In 107 games last season, Izturis had a .236 average with five homers and 32 runs batted in.
"He came into camp in better shape this year, really focused, and he's done a nice job," Gibbons said. "He made a couple nice plays last night at second base and that's good to see too."
Walden did not make an appearance with the Blue Jays after being called up last Saturday.