Gaston on Ryan: 'He didn't excite me'

TORONTO -- B.J. Ryan's rapid demise this season was no surprise to Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston.

An All-Star closer in 2005 and 2006, Ryan signed a $47 million, five-year contract with Toronto before the 2006 season. He was released July 8 this year despite being owed nearly $15 million.

In 25 games with Toronto this season, Ryan went 1-1 with a 6.53 ERA and two saves in four chances. The left-hander saved 38 games for the Blue Jays in 2006 but missed most of the 2007 season following elbow ligament replacement surgery.

He returned to save 32 games in 2008 but struggled with a drop in velocity this spring and never recovered his previous form.

Gaston said he saw Ryan struggling as soon as he was hired as Toronto's manager in June 2008.

"Even when I was here last year, he didn't excite me," Gaston said before Sunday's home finale against Seattle. "I think he got by out there a lot of times barely by the skin of his teeth. He didn't really have a live fastball like he used to have."

After being let go by Toronto, Ryan signed with the Chicago Cubs. He pitched briefly at Triple-A Iowa, then asked for his release in early August.

In 11 seasons with Cincinnati, Baltimore and Toronto, Ryan is 21-28 with a 3.37 ERA and 117 saves.