Blue Jays place Morales on DL, activate Estrada

Franklin Morales had a 3.18 ERA over 62.1 innings for the Kansas City Royals last season. (David J. Phillip/AP)

TORONTO – The Toronto Blue Jays are down to one left-handed reliever after placing Franklin Morales on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder fatigue Sunday. It’s an uncomfortable position to be in considering the lefty-heavy New York Yankees visit Toronto this week.

Morales threw on flat ground at Rogers Centre for approximately 10 minutes Sunday morning before the team finalized the decision to place him on the DL. Brett Cecil‘s now the Blue Jays’ lone lefty reliever, which means they could have to rely on a right-hander like Jesse Chavez or Gavin Floyd to get key outs against left-handed batters in the middle innings.

“We’re always looking at the roster every day, but right now we feel confident in those guys and we’ll see where it goes,” pitching coach Pete Walker said. “We’re content with what we have and we think the guys we have can get the job done.”

Still, the bullpen as presently constructed leaves manager John Gibbons with a lack of options for Yankees lefties like Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Brian McCann.

Morales, who posted a 3.18 ERA in 67 appearances with the Kansas City Royals last year, made two appearances with the Blue Jays, retiring both batters he faced. He warmed up Friday before feeling soreness and didn’t end up pitching.

The 30-year-old signed a non-guaranteed deal with the Blue Jays worth $2 million just before opening day. The full amount of that deal would become guaranteed if he’s still on the active roster or disabled list on May 18.

Aaron Loup (elbow strain) continues throwing off of flat ground, but isn’t close to returning from the disabled list. That means Cecil’s the lone lefty at a time when he’s still developing a feel for his off-speed stuff.

“The curveball isn’t quite as sharp as it needs to be, but it’s still farther along than it was last year this time,” Walker said.

Further complicating matters, the Blue Jays can’t recall Pat Venditte or Ryan Tepera from triple-A until later this week when they’ve been on optional assignment for at least 10 days. Chad Girodo, who impressed the Blue Jays this spring, could be promoted at any time, though he’d have to be added to the 40-man roster.

By placing Morales on the DL, the Blue Jays are down to a seven-man bullpen. The move allows Rule 5 pick Joe Biagini and right-hander Arnold Leon to keep their roster spots for now.

Meanwhile, right-hander Marco Estrada returns Sunday from a short stint on the disabled list that was required because back stiffness slowed his spring training schedule.

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