- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 14, 2009

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Jesse Litsch broke Rule No. 1 in the pitching handbook _ he tried to pitch through arm pain.

Litsch first felt pain in his right forearm after striking out Minnesota Twins slugger Justin Morneau in the first inning on Monday night. But the 24-year-old said he felt pain on every pitch until he finally pulled himself out of the game at the start of the fourth inning, in the middle of an at-bat against Delmon Young.

After an MRI revealed a strained right forearm on Tuesday, the Blue Jays placed Litsch on the 15-day disabled list.

“It was probably not the right thing to do, but you have to learn from your mistakes and hopefully I get back here pretty soon,” Litsch said.

He will likely miss more than the minimum time. Litsch said the plan is for him to take two weeks off without throwing at all to give the arm time to loosen up.

“They want me to come back strong,” Litsch said. “They don’t want me to come back iffy. That’s fine with me. I’d rather come back strong than come back and get shut down in September when we’re in a playoff race.”

This is the first time he has experienced pain in his pitching arm. He did not talk to reporters on Monday night after the game and admitted he was nervous about what the tests would show.

“Your arm is your moneymaker. That’s your livelihood,” he said. “Anytime you feel pain, especially me being my first time ever, you don’t know what to think. You’re worried about it. You want to get that MRI as quick as possible.”

Despite Litsch’s mistake, the exam didn’t show any significant damage. The team is hoping he will be back to normal in a couple of weeks.

“He’s a tough kid, he wants to stay out there,” manager Cito Gaston said. “The only thing you have to think about is, in this game, you have to think about your future, too. I certainly don’t want to jeopardize anybody’s future here.”

Reliever Brian Tallet will move into the rotation and get Litsch’s scheduled start against Oakland on Saturday.

The Blue Jays recalled left-hander Bill Murphy from Triple-A Las Vegas to fill the roster spot. He pitched two innings of scoreless relief in his only appearance for Las Vegas this season.

The move takes the only experienced starter behind ace Roy Halladay out of Toronto’s rotation. The rest of the group includes second-year lefty David Purcey and rookies Ricky Romero and Scott Richmond.

Litsch went 13-9 with a 3.58 ERA last season, but is 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA this year. Litsch has allowed four homers in his first two starts of the season.

That will put even more pressure on Toronto’s powerful offense, which entered the game Tuesday against Minnesota leading the majors in hitting, runs, hits, doubles and total bases. The Jays (6-2) have already hit 13 homers, which is third in the AL. It took them 19 games to hit that many last season.

“We’re certainly going to have to pick it up. We’re going to have to keep doing like we did last night,” said Gaston, whose Blue Jays had 19 hits in an 8-6 victory. “We’re going to have to keep hitting and scoring some runs.”

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