ANAHEIM -- Josh Johnson might be pitching to keep his job in the Blue Jays' starting rotation when he takes the mound on Tuesday night in Seattle.
Johnson is struggling more than he ever has in his career, and there is a realistic possibility that his time in the rotation could be coming to an end.
One positive outing could change that outlook, but there will be plenty of pressure on Johnson when he faces the Mariners. It will be an unfamiliar situation for the former National League ERA leader, but it appears the Blue Jays will have only so much patience with the soon-to-be free agent.
"Right now he's scheduled to make his next start, but there's no question it's been about six starts where he has been getting hit," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "I know he's working hard and he's not making any excuses at all, he continues to battle. But it's something we continue to talk about.
"We have to look at alternatives at some point if this continues, it's really start-to-start at this point, it's really the only way to characterize it. Right now, he's going to make one more start and we'll see how he does but we'll continue to evaluate it each time."
Johnson has posted an 0-6 record with a 9.48 ERA since June 28. He has allowed 21 runs during the first two innings of his past six outings and continues to search for answers on the mound. He's desperately looking for a change in fortune, but even though his job appears to be in jeopardy, it wouldn't take much to change the organization's stance.
If the Blue Jays do seek alternatives, they have several options at their disposal. Top prospects Marcus Stroman and Sean Nolin appear ready for the next level, while right-handers Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison aren't too far behind in their return from last year's Tommy John surgeries.
"We've talked about it, and that's definitely something that could happen," Anthopoulos said when asked if Toronto would give Stroman or Nolin an opportunity this season. "We could take a look at one of those guys or both of those guys. Same with Kyle and Drew, we're not committed that they're going to be up, but they are guys that could be up as well and have a look at them."
Delabar placed on DL to rest ailing shoulder
ANAHEIM -- Right-hander Steve Delabar was placed on the 15-day disabled list prior to Sunday afternoon's game against the Angels because of inflammation in his right shoulder.
The move is retroactive to Saturday, and although a corresponding roster decision wasn't officially announced, left-hander J.A. Happ will be activated off the DL and join the Blue Jays in Seattle.
Delabar has experienced lingering discomfort for the past several weeks and it finally reached the point where the Blue Jays wanted to play it safe and shut him down for a brief period of time.
"The way [Delabar's latest discomfort] was related to me was that if this was the playoffs, he could pitch, but it's one of those things that it's better to get on top of it right now because it's taking him a little bit longer to get loose and there is inflammation in the shoulder," Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said.
"He was examined by the Angels' team doctor here, and they don't think it's anything significant. He's heading to Florida and will be re-examined by our doctors. It looks like he just needs to rest, more than anything else."
Delabar has become one of the most reliable setup men in the Major Leagues this season. He was voted into the All-Star Game last month and is 5-2 with a 2.90 ERA in 49 2/3 innings.
The second-year pitcher also leads American League relievers with 75 strikeouts. There were signs of trouble during his last outing on Friday night when he had a rare off night on the mound, surrendering three extra-base hits en route to taking the loss against Los Angeles.
Happ will make Wednesday's start against the Mariners, matching up with No. 1 starter Felix Hernandez. Happ has been out since early May after being struck on the head by a line drive off the bat of Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings.
GM mulling options to improve sloppy defense
ANAHEIM -- The lack of defensive fundamentals shown by the Blue Jays has become a concern as the club attempts to reverse its downward spiral in the American League East.
Toronto is tied for fourth in the Major Leagues with 78 errors this season, but just as alarming are the plays that don't show up in the box score. Center fielder Colby Rasmus has experienced a lot of difficulty hitting the cutoff man on his throws into the infield, and there are also plenty of examples of double plays not being turned and ill-timed mental mistakes on the field.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos was questioned about the concerns during a morning scrum with the media, and although he tried to downplay the issue, it's clear that it has been a problem this season.
"It's been sloppy the last little while, to say the least," Anthopoulos said. "We've talked about it at length. I know we're going to be working with Colby a little bit more. [Jose] Bautista, the first night in Oakland, threw away a ball. But with Jose, if you look at the entire year, he's made some unbelievable throws, some very accurate throws to the plate.
"Colby has a tendency to yank balls aimed at home plate. It seems more so this year than in the years past. That's something we're going to work on a little bit more. Maybe it's guys trying to do too much but it's something that's going to be addressed, and it will eventually show itself on the field."
The Blue Jays have discussed everything from taking a different approach in Spring Training to possibly changing some of the personnel on the field. Anthopoulos did say the extended absences of Brett Lawrie and Jose Reyes to injuries this season have played a role in the issues, but ultimately it's up to the players to perform better.
"At some point it falls on the players as well," Anthopoulos said. "Maybe that's something that as we're evaluating going forward, the same way that you work with someone on their mechanics, working with someone at the plate to hit, if the results aren't there, you continue to work, to be committed to the players.
"But it's not for the lack of any effort at all -- whether it's the coaches, the manager or so on. At some point, in terms of making the plays, it falls on the players as well. I don't think these guys are trying to make mistakes. I think ultimately then it falls on me to get certain players that are going to start to make those plays."