Jordan Walden takes Mariano Rivera’s All-Star spot

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It’s a veritable passing of the torch.

The game’s all-time closer, Mariano Rivera, makes way for new blood, rookie Jordan Walden, as the AL named the Angels reliever to the All-Star Game on Thursday.

Walden was the choice even though he’s tied with Matt Capps for the major league lead in blown saves by a closer with six.

The league was set on replacing Rivera with a reliever, but there were plenty of better choices based on 2011 performance.  Rivera’s Yankee teammate David Robertson was one of them.  Walden’s own teammate, Scott Downs, has been much more effective as a setup man than Walden has as a closer.  Boston’s Daniel Bard, Balitmore’s Koji Uehara and Seattle’s David Pauley also would have been valid choices.

But none of them have 19 saves.  So, Walden it is.

Blue Jays place Aaron Sanchez on 10-day disabled list

Toronto Blue Jays v Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
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The Blue Jays placed right-hander Aaron Sanchez on the 10-day disabled list with a contusion in his right index finger, per a team announcement on Saturday. The assignment is retroactive to Friday. In a corresponding move, righty Marcus Stroman was activated from the DL (right shoulder fatigue) and will take the mound for the Blue Jays at 9:07 PM ET tonight.

Sanchez, 25, is in his fifth season with the club. He hasn’t looked his sharpest so far this year, going 3-5 in 15 starts with a career-worst 4.52 ERA, 5.1 BB/9 and 7.6 SO/9 through 79 2/3 innings. It’s not yet clear how long he’ll be sidelined, though he could miss as little as one turn in the rotation before returning to the roster in the next week or two.

Sanchez isn’t the only struggling starter in Toronto’s rotation, either. Per MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm, the team placed southpaw Jaime Garcia on the DL (right shoulder tenderness) as well, with lefty reliever Tim Mayza scheduled to take his spot on the roster. In 13 starts this season, Garcia carried a 2-6 record, 6.16 ERA, 4.5 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 61 1/3 innings. Any further decisions pertaining to the rotation — including Tuesday’s starter against the Astros — have yet to be publicly addressed.