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Jays designate Blanco; activate McGowan, recall Thole, LaRoche

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The Canadian Press
6/7/2013 8:33:45 PM
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Following Friday's game, The Toronto Blue Jays activated pitcher Dustin McGowan from the 60-day disabled list and optioned pitcher Todd Redmond to the Buffalo Bisons. 

The last time Andy LaRoche was at Rogers Centre, he played three different infield positions for the Oakland Athletics over a three-game series.

He should expect more of the same now that he's back in Toronto with the Blue Jays.

LaRoche was called up from the triple-A Buffalo Bisons on Friday along with catcher Josh Thole while veteran catcher Henry Blanco was designated for assignment.

LaRoche, who was signed to a minor-league deal in January, hit .282 with seven homers and 32 RBIs in 49 games with the Bisons this season. He'll give the Blue Jays some infield depth and will likely see action at third base with Brett Lawrie out with a high ankle sprain.

"We'll pick our spots, he'll get some action," manager John Gibbons said before Friday night's game against Texas.

"Could be second, could be third, could be first," he added.

LaRoche, 29, split last season between triple-A Columbus and Pawtucket. He made his big-league debut in 2007 and has 22 homers and 113 RBIs in 403 career games with the Athletics, Los Angeles Dodgers and Pittsburgh Pirates.

"LaRoche is a natural fit for us," Gibbons said. "He's been around, he's an old vet.

"He fits in, he can play some third base for us now that Brett's down. So it's a good addition."

LaRoche and Thole were not in the starting lineup for the opener of a three-game series against the Rangers. Regular starter J.P. Arencibia was behind the plate and Maicer Izturis got the start at third base.

LaRoche said he has played all four infield positions over the last two years but is most comfortable at third base.

"Whatever role they want me to play, (I hope to) do it as (well) as I can and hopefully help contribute to this team and just help them win as much as I can," LaRoche said.

Thole, 26, was acquired last December in the R.A. Dickey trade with the Mets. He spent four years in New York before the trade and is quite familiar with handling Dickey's knuckleball.

"They played together and won a Cy Young together so that's all you need to know," Gibbons said.

Dickey won the National League Cy Young Award in 2012 with the Mets after going 20-6 with a 2.73 earned-run average. He has been rather mediocre this season with a 5-7 record and a 4.66 ERA.

Dickey said he didn't work with Thole at spring training but they plan to throw together in the bullpen on Saturday.

"Having Josh come up -- who has a lot of experience with me -- it should be a pretty seamless transition," Dickey said.

Thole also gives the Blue Jays a deeper offensive threat in the backup catcher position.

He hit .322 in 41 games with the Bisons this season with seven homers and 31 RBIs. In 308 career big-league games, he has a .261 average with seven home runs and 87 RBIs.

Blanco, 41, had a .184 average with three doubles in 15 games this season. He has played for 10 big-league teams over his 16-year career.

Notes: Gibbons said there is no definitive timeline in place for Lawrie's return. The Langley, B.C., native has been wearing a walking boot after injuring his ankle on an awkward slide in a game May 27. Lawrie is on the 15-day disabled list.

Andy LaRoche (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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