ORLANDO, Fla. – At first, Dalton Pompey expected his right wrist soreness to clear up without any delay.
After injuring his wrist on a slide in Lakeland on March 7, he played in two more games and was slated to start another, but when he still wasn’t at full strength four days later he informed Blue Jays decision-makers and took Sunday off to rest.
"My grip strength was decreasing and my hand was coming off the bat when I swung, so I thought I should get it checked out," Pompey said.
After meeting with doctors for a CT scan Monday morning, Pompey resolved to rest his wrist for now. If it doesn’t respond within a couple of days, the next step would be a cortisone shot.
The switch-hitting 25-year-old projects to open the season as a starting outfielder for triple-A Buffalo after a difficult 2017 season in which he was limited to just 13 total games due to concussion and knee issues.
HAPP BUILDS UP
The more J.A. Happ throws, the better he understands what’s working and what’s not.
He threw 70 pitches Monday when he worked into the fifth inning for the first time this spring, and the extended outing allowed him to cycle through his secondary offerings more times.
"You’re getting a little better feedback and a little more feel for those pitches in a game situation," Happ said.
The left-hander allowed four runs on seven hits, including two home runs, in 4.2 innings against the Red Sox on Monday. Still, manager John Gibbons was pleased with what he saw on a day Happ struck out four, walked one and attempted to throw his two-seam fastball in on right-handers more often than usual.
"I thought he had a good fastball and moved it around pretty good," Gibbons said.
With opening day now just 16 days away, Happ has time for two or three more spring starts. While he’s open to making three starts, he says he’d be content with two: one outing to stretch up toward 90 pitches and another one to dial back to the 50 to 60 range.
The Blue Jays will finalize those plans in the coming days, and as they go through that process they’ll likely have to select an opening-day starter, even if they don’t announce it immediately. Happ is one candidate deserving of consideration after posting a 3.53 ERA in 2017, but the Blue Jays could also consider Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada for the opener.
SUCCESS FOR SANTOS
The praise keeps on coming for Luis Santos, a right-handed reliever with a chance to break camp with the Blue Jays after impressing with six consecutive scoreless outings.
"He’s got a great arm," Gibbons said. "He’s a big-league pitcher. He’s earned that right to see what he can do. The thing that jumps out at me is he’s got a rubber arm. All bullpen guys don’t. He bounces back probably a little more quickly than other guys would. He could throw two or three innings, maybe even four innings depending on how rested he is. And he’s good."
The Blue Jays would have to add Santos back onto the 40-man roster, but that’s the case for many of the relievers competing for bullpen spots including John Axford, Tyler Clippard and Craig Breslow. Meanwhile, Deck McGuire won’t be breaking camp with the Blue Jays, according to his manager.
"I like what I’ve seen and there’s no reason he can’t be on the team sometime during the year," Gibbons said.
Randal Grichuk hasn’t played since March 9 because he has experienced some ribcage soreness and the Blue Jays would rather not rush him back.
"We backed off before it turns into something," Gibbons said.
Grichuk’s slated to travel to Fort Myers, Fla., for Thursday’s game, an indication that he’s progressing. Steve Pearce, who has been battling calf soreness, will also make the trip.
Earlier this spring, Grichuk sprained his left wrist making a catch but returned two days later.