Blue Jays notebook: Travis will earn consideration for leadoff role

Nicholas Castellanos had two runs batted in as the Detroit Tigers edged the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4.

DUNEDIN, Fla. – Three games into the Grapefruit League schedule, and already the Toronto Blue Jays have used three different leadoff hitters.

Curtis Granderson hit leadoff for the Blue Jays in their spring opener, Ezequiel Carrera led off on Saturday in Game 2, and Devon Travis was atop the order Sunday.

Of those three, Travis may be the best bet to hit leadoff to open the regular season. Granderson batted atop the order partially so that he wouldn’t have to wait around to get his at-bats in, and Carrera was one of a select group of veterans who made the trip to Lakeland to play the Tigers Saturday.

At this point the Blue Jays aren’t close to choosing a leadoff hitter, but Travis will earn serious consideration for the role if his knee continues to progress.

“Travis would be a good (candidate),” manager John Gibbons said recently. “Other than that I couldn’t tell you.”

As he works his way back from June knee surgery, Travis has been participating in fielding drills, running and taking full batting practice. He’s expected to get a couple of at-bats Sunday before giving way to a replacement.

His career batting line of .292/.331/.462 would be tempting for the leadoff spot but his knee has yet to be tested extensively.


Troy Tulowitzki took ground balls on the field with his teammates Sunday after working alone with third base coach Luis Rivera earlier in the week. Tulowitzki’s dealing with a bone spur as he recovers from a right ankle injury, so he’s not testing his range much yet. Many of the ground balls he fielded were hit right at him to limit the stress on his ankle.


Bench coach DeMarlo Hale will manage the Blue Jays for the time being, while manager John Gibbons is away from the team. Gibbons is expected to return in a couple of days, according to a club spokesman.


Over the course of 12 big-league seasons, Craig Breslow has changed considerably as a pitcher and he says that evolution’s been necessary.

“At times stubbornness can be a quality, can be an attribute,” Breslow said. “And at times you have to be able to put aside pride bordering on stubbornness to say ‘what I did three, four, five years ago doesn’t work anymore,’ That’s OK, and I’m going to find something that works for today.”

After a disappointing 2016 season, the left-hander lowered his arm slot and has been pleased with the results since.

“Right at that point it was a pretty easy decision for me,” he said. “It was like ‘be out of the game, or try something new.’ But the willingness to try something new and the ability to execute are very different. Fortunately, I took to the changes pretty quickly in terms of the results that I saw, what I was able to make the ball do.”


Aaron Sanchez will make his spring debut Sunday, pitching in a game for the first time since last July 19.

• Granderson likes the depth of the Blue Jays roster. “Even though a lot of those guys don’t have a lot of big-league time yet, some of those guys are going to have the chance to come up over the course of the season,” he said.

• The Blue Jays know they can’t afford another 6-17 start to the season, but if you ask Gibbons their luck’s about to turn after five consecutive sub-.500 Aprils. “We’re just due,” he said recently. “The odds are in our favour.”

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