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Rzepczynski back in Toronto with fond memories

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TORONTO -- The last time Marc Rzepczynski was in Toronto, he was packing his bags for St. Louis. The Blue Jays traded the left-hander to the Cardinals midway through the 2011 season, which was Rzepczynski's first year working as a reliever.

Three years later, Rzepczynski is back north of the border as a member of the Indians' bullpen. The lefty will always have a soft spot for Toronto.

"This is my first time back," Rzepczynski said on Tuesday. "I'm just trying to remember where everything's at. I'm remembering good places to go and getting familiarized with the city again. I loved playing here. They gave me the opportunity to be in the big leagues, starting and relieving. My career has continued and, if I wasn't turned into a reliever, who knows where I'd be now?

"I was pretty fortunate, pretty lucky to be with the guys that I played with. I loved the city at the time. Unfortunately, we didn't always have the best teams, but the guys were always great. They always treated me well."

The Blue Jays selected Rzepczynski in the fifth round of the 2007 First-Year Player Draft and promoted him to help the rotation during the 2009 campaign. The left-hander worked as a starter for part of two seasons for Toronto, but transitioned to a relief role in '11. After posting a 2.97 ERA in 43 games for the Jays that season, Toronto dealt him to St. Louis as part of an eight-player swap on July 27.

That trade allowed Rzepczynski to be a part of the Cardinals' World Series triumph over the Rangers in 2011. St. Louis, in turn, traded the lefty to the Indians at the July 31 Trade Deadline last summer. He posted a 0.89 ERA in 27 games for Cleveland in '13 and currently has a 2.63 ERA through 19 appearances for the Tribe this season.

"It's definitely fun to be back in town," Rzepczynski said. "Everybody asks, 'Would you ever play here again if you had the opportunity?' Yeah, I love the city of Toronto. It's great. I will always remember where I was when I got drafted, when I got to the big leagues, when I got the call.

"They gave the opportunity at 23 [years old]. It was unfortunate, all the injuries they had in 2009, but they gave me the chance and, six years later, I'm still pitching."

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, and follow him on Twitter @MLBastian. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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