Gaston's flexibility won't bring question of relievers to a close

October 11, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Toronto Blue Jays have the luxury of two premier short relievers, but that has put manager Cito Gaston in the difficult position of having to choose between them.

Right-hander Tom Henke led the club with 32 saves during the regular season, but hard-throwing Duane Ward became the main man down the stretch after Henke came up with a sore shoulder.

Now, Henke is feeling better, but Gaston used him in a set-up role in Wednesday's 5-2 victory in Game 2. Ward pitched the final two innings to get the save.

Henke appeared to be unhappy about that after the game, but he said yesterday that he would work in whatever capacity Gaston decides.

"There's not a whole lot of difference except that the middle reliever usually doesn't get a whole lot of credit," he said. "I approached it the same way I always do. I'm going out there for an inning or an inning and a third and I'm going to throw hard, then hand the baton over. Eventually, I'll get back to the closer role because that's what I think I'm best at."

Gaston indicated that game situations will determine what order Ward and Henke pitch from now on. Either way, they are an imposing pair. They combined to give up just one hit over 3 1/3 innings to secure Wednesday night's game.

"It just depends," Gaston said. "If you want to say we used Henke in a set-up role, pitching one inning. . . I don't know. Sometimes, it could go the other way if I have [Mike] Timlin or Boomer [David Wells] in the background. Then, I can use Ward to pitch the seventh or eighth and then come back with Henke in the ninth, if he continues to improve."

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