TORONTO - Josh Johnson is headed to the disabled list with tightness in his right forearm, putting into doubt the remainder of what has been a miserable season for the big right-hander.
The move, announced less than 90 minutes before the start of Tuesday's game against the Red Sox, came as a surprise considering manager John Gibbons mentioned only hours earlier his pitcher would be ready to make Wednesday's start.
"I felt good coming into today," said Johnson. "Everything was getting better and better each day and then all of a sudden today I kind of felt the same thing. I don't know where it came from. Before the last start it was the best I'd felt in three years, probably."
The problem began during that start in Seattle. Johnson experienced tightness but ground through five innings, enough to secure just his second win of the year. The pain lingered for a couple of days before subsiding.
The tightness returned while Johnson was playing catch during batting practice on Tuesday afternoon.
He insists it's a muscle problem and doesn't believe the matter is related to the Tommy John ligament replacement surgery he had in 2007. When asked to point to where the pain was emanating, Johnson directed eyes toward the base of the forearm.
By way of contrast, Brandon Morrow's tightness was on top of his forearm. He's since been diagnosed with an entrapped nerve and prescribed rest.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos hastily called together reporters and announced right-hander Thad Weber would be recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.
Either Weber or Esmil Rogers will make Wednesday's start.
"Not right now," said Anthopoulos, when asked if one of Ricky Romero or prospects Marcus Stroman or Sean Nolin would be considered to take Johnson's place. "We've talked about all of them, I guess, at various times. Not for now but that could change at any time.
"Right now, especially with the way it's lined up and we need a starter for (Wednesday,) it's as much about who's on turn at this point."
What this setback means for Johnson's season isn't clear. His stint on the disabled list can be backdated to August 7 but it's difficult to envision a scenario which would have Johnson back by the 22nd.
With less than seven weeks left in the season and with a rehab stint likely required before a return to the big league mound, assuming Johnson gets healthy, the calendar is not his friend.
"It's been tough," Johnson said of his season, which includes only 16 starts, two wins and a 6.20 ERA. "Still got to find a way to get back out on the mound. That's the only good part about it, is being out there. Even though I was struggling I was out there, I felt great when I was out there so it's very frustrating."
Colby Rasmus "tweaked" his left oblique on a check swing during Sunday's game against Oakland and missed a second-straight game.
"I sneezed this morning and I felt it, which is not a good thing," said Rasmus. "But coughing it don't bother me and just doing regular rotations it's fine but when this side goes down it's in my hip is when I feel it."
The Blue Jays are holding out hope Rasmus can return to the lineup, possibly as early as Wednesday, but a stint on the disabled list seems just as likely a reality.
Oblique injuries, as Brett Lawrie, Brandon Morrow and Rajai Davis can attest, have a tendency to linger. During periods of rest there's no pain but when baseball activities resume, problems can recur.
Manager John Gibbons says the club won't wait long to make a decision if Rasmus continues to have problems through the week.
"We can't let it linger," he said.