Is it time for the Toronto Blue Jays to shut down starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva?
Doctors took care of that option, at least for the short-term, by revealing Thursday that the right-hander has a forearm strain. The team subsequently placed Villanueva on the 15-day disabled list.
Villanueva, the Jays' reliever-turned starter, has increased his workload by 45 innings this season to 97 2/3.
Perhaps the right-hander's performance on Wednesday night in which Villanueva surrendered three home runs in a 8-1 loss to Tampa Bay pushed management to have the hurler's shoulder examined.
"Health-wise he's fine," Farrell told reporters after the game, Villanueva's worst effort in 13 starts this season after working exclusively out of the bullpen in 2010 with Milwaukee.
"He has primarily been a reliever the past couple of years so he's at the point where he's getting up to a hundred innings and we're seeing some of the physical tolls on that."
Of the 27-year-old's 26 appearances this season, 13 have been starts. Villanueva started six times in 64 games in 2009 when he racked up 96 innings pitched. His career high for innings in a season is 114 1/3 in 2007 for Milwaukee, followed by 108 1/3 innings the next season.
Villanueva made nine starts in 2008 and three times has started six times: 2006, 2007 and 2009.
"We're well aware of the lack of late action [on the baseball] through the [strike zone]. That is a sign of fatigue," said Farrell.
After Wednesday's game, during which Villanueva didn't top 89 miles per hour on the radar gun, he insisted his arm doesn't feel tired.
"Obviously I haven't thrown as much the last couple of years," he said, "but I feel fine out there. I'm warming up fine.
"I don't feel like I had a lot of life on the ball [Wednesday] but you go through those days, too. You have to find a different way to get [the job] done."
A year ago, the club shut down Brandon Morrow in his first full season as a starter after he had logged 143 1/3 innings, up from the 124 2/3 innings combined in 2009 between the Seattle Mariners and their AAA affiliate.
The righty has dealt with some injury concerns this year and is on track for 165 innings.
In 2009, Toronto cut short the seasons of starters Brett Cecil and Mark Rzepczynski due reduce wear and tear on their left arms.
Villanueva's next turn in the rotation is Monday, an off day. The Blue Jays will use that and then start either Luis Perez or prospect Henderson Alvarez in Villanueva's spot. The latter is scheduled to start Friday for AA New Hampshire.
Meanwhile, Perez was summoned from AAA Las Vegas after Toronto's 7-6, 12-inning loss at Tampa Bay on Thursday. He has posted a 1-1 record and 3.57 earned-run average in 24 games with the Blue Jays this season.
The 26-year-old has started eight games for the AAA 51s, going 2-2 with a 4.60 ERA.