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Santos' paternity leave opens window for Crawford

Toronto Blue Jays closer Sergio Santos pumps his fist after defeating the Boston Red Sox AL action in Toronto on Wednesday April 11, 2012.

Frank Gunn/Frank Gunn/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Like a breath of southern U.S. fresh air, Evan Crawford arrived in Toronto on Friday, his first promotion to the Major Leagues.

The personable 25-year-old reliever was called up from Double-A in New Hampshire to fill the vacancy created after closer Sergio Santos headed to California to be with his wife for the birth of their third child.

"Greatest baby ever," Crawford beamed from the field at Rogers Centre on Friday, several hours before the Blue Jays will play the Baltimore Orioles in the first of a three-game set.

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The lefty had an impressive spring training with Toronto so his call-up, however brief it might be, isn't a surprise.

Santos is expected to return to the team in time for Saturday's game. Francisco Cordero will be the closer if one is required Friday against the Orioles.

"He has two above-average breaking pitches, both curve ball and slider," Toronto manager John Farrell said of Crawford. "Anytime you're looking at a left-hander with swing and miss capability, he's got three very good weapons that he can attack good Major League hitters with.

"I know he hasn't thrown his first pitch at the Major League level, but he's got very good stuff. And we wouldn't be afraid to match him up against some of the best left-handers that we'll face."

Crawford's fan base is not just restricted to Farrell.

During spring training, Blue Jays outfield prospect Anthony Gose told Mike Wilner of The Fan 590 that Crawford had the best arm in the organization.

"What you don't know is I paid Anthony Gose to say that," Crawford quipped when told of that remark.

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Crawford was selected by Toronto in the eighth round of the 2008 draft, out of Auburn University.

An Alabama native, Crawford was a starting pitcher but the last couple of seasons he has worked exclusively out of the bullpen.

He is 0-0 this season for the Fisher Cats, with a 0.00 ERA in three appearances in New Hampshire.

He appeared in three games this spring for Toronto and pitched 4.0 shutout innings with one walk and four strikeouts.

In 2011, Crawford made 45 appearances in relief for New Hampshire posting a 3-5 record with two saves and an ERA of 3.35 with 62 strikeouts in 51.0 innings.

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