MONTREAL – Potential pitching options for the Toronto Blue Jays are shaking free as opening day rosters are being finalized around the majors, with Dan Straily emerging as one possibility to bolster their beleaguered staff.
The Blue Jays have shown interest in the right-hander placed on release waivers by the Miami Marlins on Monday, according to an industry source, and their scouring of the open market is why they’re reserving judgment on the remaining decisions for their opening day 25.
Straily, 30, has been a dependable innings-eater, logging 191.1 frames for Cincinnati in 2016, 181.2 for Miami in 2017, and 122.1 for the Marlins in a 2018 shortened by a forearm strain.
He was set to earn $5 million, but if he clears waivers Wednesday afternoon, the Marlins will only have to pay him $1.2 million as he enters free agency.
Should he reach the market, the Blue Jays would need to decide whether he, or another available arm, would make more sense than Trent Thornton, the likeliest internal candidate to cover the minimum one start Ryan Borucki will miss with elbow discomfort.
Thornton has impressed all spring, including a 3.2 inning outing Saturday against a good New York Yankees lineup during which he made only one significant mistake, a three-run homer to Gleyber Torres in the first.
Thornton could also factor into the bullpen, which is currently set to include closer Ken Giles, lefty Tim Mayza, Joe Biagini and Daniel Hudson, whose $1.5-million, one-year deal was completed Monday.
Bud Norris, who threw an inning Sunday, isn’t a certainty to be ready for opening day, said manager Charlie Montoyo. The right-hander, a minor-league free agent not currently on the 40-man roster, will pitch a bullpen Tuesday in Florida that may determine his fate.
“When you think about it he’s only had three outings – and he came here late,” said Montoyo. “So it’s kind of not fair to judge the guy on three outings. But that’s what we’ve got. We’re two days away from starting the season, so we’ll see how he feels in his bullpen, then we’ll go from there.”
Norris would make it five relievers and Sam Gaviglio, who struck out four Milwaukee Brewers in two innings during Monday’s exhibition at Olympic Stadium, is likely to be on the club as the long reliever.
Depending on whether they carry seven or eight relievers, that would leave one or two spots up for grabs between Rule 5 pick Elvis Luciano, lefty Thomas Pannone and non-roster invitees Jason Adam, Javy Guerra and Justin Shafer.
The Blue Jays tested Luciano against the Brewers, putting the 19-year-old in to face the top of their A lineup in the third inning. He hit Lorenzo Cain, who promptly stole second, but bounced back to strikeout Christian Yelich and get Jesus Aguilar on a fly out.
Adam surrendered a three-run homer to Travis Shaw in the fifth inning, but Kevin Pillar dropped Cain’s fading liner after a long run and then Freddy Galvis couldn’t cleanly field Aguilar’s grounder after ranging to his left, creating the jam. Adam did strike out Yelich in between the two plays, so with better defence, he could have been out of the inning.
Pannone, Guerra and Shafer are all slated to pitch Tuesday.
Beyond that, though, they have no obvious moves to clear more space, leaving them with a difficult juggle between current need and long-term growth.
MONTOYO MEMORIES: Charlie Montoyo arrived late for his first game at Olympic Stadium on Sept. 7, 1993, scrambling to make it in time as a call-up. He remembers arriving at around 7 p.m. for a 7:10 p.m. start, saying hello quickly to manager Felipe Alou and then finding himself pinch-hitting for Oreste Marrero in the seventh inning of a 3-3 game.
A line drive single to centre field gave the Expos a 4-3 win.
“(Alou) said if they bring in the lefty, you’re going to go pinch hit. And that’s what happened. They brought in the lefty and I went to pinch hit,” said Montoyo, who didn’t have time to be nervous because “everything was so quick. There were butterflies when I went to play defence, because I hadn’t taken any ground balls or anything, and I hadn’t seen the roof or anything.
“But (closer John) Wettland was lights out, one, two, three. Game over. I was the hero.”
SHORT HOPS: Teoscar Hernandez will open the season in left field for the Blue Jays “and then we’ll go from there,” said Charlie Montoyo. “Teoscar has played really good. So did (Billy) McKinney. But Teoscar played really good in spring training and I want to give him a chance and see what he can do.” … Right-hander Sean Reid-Foley will start the season at triple-A Buffalo. He grinded through two tough innings Sunday against Detroit in Lakeland. … The Blue Jays re-signed Canadian right-hander John Axford, who was released Saturday ahead of the deadline to pay a retention bonus to minor-league free agents.
I’m back…again! Or is it again again? https://t.co/MYJHhh4ClA
— John Axford (@JohnAxford) March 25, 2019