Halladay, Downs added to crowded Jays' DL

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On the same day that their trainer was awarded a trip to the All-Star
Game, the Jays placed three more pitchers on the disabled list: Roy
Halladay (groin), Casey Janssen (shoulder) and Scott Downs (toe).

Those three join fellow pitchers Jesse Litsch, Shaun Marcum, Dustin
McGowan and Robert Ray on the shelf for Toronto. The offense has
actually stayed remarkably healthy, with only backup catcher Michael
Barrett missing significant time due to injury. The Jays, though, are
missing four legitimate major league starters, two more guys who have
spent time in their rotation this year and a reliever who appeared in
line for an All-Star appearance.

Fortunately, Halladay is expected to miss the minimum two starts.
Janssen, who missed last year following shoulder surgery, may have been
bounced from the rotation if the Jays didn’t have reason to put him
back on the DL. Brad Mills is coming up to replace him and will make
his major league debut Thursday.

Mills, a 2007 fourth-round pick, gets his promotion despite starting
off 1-8 in Triple-A. He had a 4.48 ERA, which is actually quite good
for a Las Vegas pitcher. Still, as a modest flyball pitcher without a
true strikeout pitch, he could have a rough adjustment period ahead of
him. I think Brett Cecil would have been the better choice to step in,
but Cecil might follow him as the starting in Halladay’s place on
Saturday.

Downs was hurt Tuesday, when he stumbled out of the box while
grounding out in his first at-bat since 2004. He only hit because the
Jays scored five runs in the top of the 10th. He was the ninth and
final batter of that inning, and the plan was to send him back out for
the 10th, though the injury forced his removal.

The Jays now have a tough decision on whether to go back to B.J.
Ryan in the closer’s role. Ryan hasn’t allowed a run in any of his last
eight appearances, though he’s been pitching mostly in losing causes.
His stuff still isn’t nearly what it was last year. However, he does
have the experience, and as bad as he pitched in April, he never
actually cost the Jays a game. Both of his blown saves came in games
the Jays went on to win.

If performance to date this year is all that matters, then Jason
Frasor becomes the immediate favorite for saves in Toronto. Still, it
would make sense for Cito Gaston to pick his spots and give Ryan the
occasional chance in the ninth. The Jays need to figure out whether
Ryan is going to be a valuable piece in the pen going forward.

Johnny Monell signs with KBO’s KT Wiz

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 06:  Johnny Monell #19 of the New York Mets runs back to the dugout after he scored in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.

Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.

The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.