Blue Jays notebook: Sanchez could pitch out of bullpen

Montreal Canadiens defenceman Shea Weber gets some pointers and encouragement from hitting coach Jose Bautista while taking batting practice at Rogers Centre ahead of the Blue Jays' game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays placed Russell Martin on the 10-day disabled list with a left oblique strain on Saturday after the catcher exited the previous night’s game following the first inning.

Catcher Mike Ohlman has been called up from triple-A Buffalo, while the team officially added pitcher Chris Rowley, who will start on Saturday for the Blue Jays, to the big-league roster.

Right-hander Chris Smith and infielder Chris Coghlan have been designated for assignment.

Losing Martin, who hurt himself during an at-bat on Friday, is a blow to a Toronto club that’s currently fighting to stay in the wild-card picture.

Toronto Blue Jays on Sportsnet NOW
Want to stream every Blue Jays games this season? Sportsnet NOW has you covered. Catch every Blue Jays game, marquee MLB matchups, the playoffs and entire World Series.

“Who knows how long those take,” manager John Gibbons said of Martin’s injury. “He’ll push himself to get back as quick as possible. But if he’s hurt, he’s hurt.”

Martin, who’s hitting .223/.354/.381 with 12 home runs and 27 RBI in 81 games, spent time on the DL earlier this season with a nerve issue in his shoulder and neck.

Ohlman’s time with the team could be brief as catcher Miguel Montero is progressing well from a groin injury and could be activated from the DL as soon as Sunday.

Gibbons also expressed confidence in Raffy Lopez, who’ll be the starting catcher on Saturday and hit fifth in the lineup against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

“He’s got some arm strength,” said the skipper. “He takes some good swings too. I’m impressed with his at-bats.”

SANCHEZ TO BULLPEN?

Aaron Sanchez is still recovering from a blister issue on his right-hand, and while there’s no clear timeline for the starting pitcher, Gibbons suggested he could be used out of the bullpen upon his return.

The minor-league season is nearing its conclusion and if that’s not an option for Sanchez to pitch in rehab starts, then coming out of the Blue Jays bullpen might be the best way to ensure the 25-year-old concludes a rough 2017 campaign on a bright note.

“I do think it’s important that he finishes the season pitching, one way or another,” said Gibbons. “I think it would be good for his psyche heading into the off-season.”

Blister issues have forced Sanchez to the disabled list on four separate occasions this year, limiting him to just eight starts.