Blue Jays place Josh Donaldson on DL, recall Teoscar Hernandez

Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson. (Jeffrey McWhorter/AP)

CLEVELAND — Josh Donaldson’s throwing shoulder hasn’t improved as quickly as expected, so the Toronto Blue Jays are placing their star third baseman on the 10-day disabled list in the hopes that he can regain strength without the stress of hitting and throwing in major-league games.

Teoscar Hernandez joins the Blue Jays in place of Donaldson, whose DL stint with right shoulder inflammation was backdated to April 11. With Donaldson sidelined, Yangervis Solarte becomes the club’s regular third baseman for the time being.

Donaldson’s throwing ability has been an obvious issue since opening day, when his motion looked uncomfortable against the New York Yankees. Afterwards, manager John Gibbons described the problem as ‘dead arm’ and Donaldson was limited to DH duty for four games. He continued throwing before and after games, though, and returned to third base on April 3.

Still, his throwing didn’t improve as much as he had hoped, which prompted further tests. An MRI completed in Cleveland Thursday revealed no structural instability or new injury to Donaldson’s shoulder, according to the team. The 32-year-old will now head to the Blue Jays’ Florida training facility where he’ll go through an independent throwing program.

“Hopefully it’s not too long,” Gibbons said. “I don’t think it will be.”

Donaldson has consistently said that the shoulder doesn’t impact his hitting, but Gibbons indicated Friday that that has changed of late. As a result, Donaldson moves to the DL instead of taking over the DH role vacated by the injured Kendrys Morales.

“I think (Donaldson) might have been a little hesitant with it (as a hitter),” Gibbons said.

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Late in Wednesday’s game against the Orioles, the Blue Jays had the chance to pinch hit with Donaldson representing the tying run, but Devon Travis got the call instead. After the game, Donaldson explained that his shoulder hadn’t progressed as hoped.

“It’s the same,” Donaldson said. “There hasn’t been any regression but it hasn’t drastically improved where I feel 100 per cent about it.”

While Solarte will get most starts at third, Russell Martin has played at the hot corner on occasion since joining the Blue Jays and would be an alternative, Gibbons said. Meanwhile, Steve Pearce and Curtis Granderson will DH often until Morales comes back—a shift that opens up at-bats in left field for Hernandez, who got the start there Friday.

Hernandez hit eight home runs with a .908 OPS in 26 games with the Blue Jays last year after being acquired from Houston for Francisco Liriano. He said the regular playing time he received down the stretch helped him produce at the plate.

“That was the key,” Hernandez said. “Then I realized that I can play every day, and I put in a lot of hard work to get better.”

But when asked how often Hernandez will get the chance to play, Gibbons declined to look beyond Friday.

“He’s in there tonight,” he said.

And after that?

“I’m just worried about tonight,” Gibbons replied. “Why would I think beyond tonight?”

For those more inclined to look ahead, April 21 will be a date to watch. That’s the soonest Donaldson is eligible to return from the disabled list. For that to happen, though, he’ll need to make some gains that have been elusive in recent weeks.

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