ARLINGTON, Texas – The Toronto Blue Jays have set a tentative plan for right-hander Marcus Stroman that includes rehab outings with single-A Lansing on Sept. 2 and triple-A Buffalo on Sept. 7, barring any setbacks.
Stroman is scheduled to throw 55 pitches in a simulated game Friday before joining the Lugnuts for a 70-pitch start. Providing he continues to progress, he’d then join the Bisons for their season finale against Pawtucket with a pitch count of around 85.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos laid out the next steps Wednesday, pointing out nothing is set in stone.
"He has to get there," he said during a 15-minute session with reporters. "He has to continue to pass every test and then if there are any issues in between we could pull the plug. That’s a real tentative game plan right now."
If that timeline plays out, Stroman, in theory, could be ready to start in the big-leagues as soon as Sept. 12 at the New York Yankees. Should they stay on turn from when Drew Hutchison rejoins the rotation Saturday, that outing would belong to Marco Estrada.
The Blue Jays have in the past used a sixth starter on occasion to build in extra rest for the staff, and they could perhaps slide Stroman in with that in mind.
"We haven’t gotten that far," said Anthopoulos. "We’re just going to see how he is. We’re having him stretched out. Like we said before it’s always easier to shorten somebody up so at any point in time if we say, he has that one outing in Lansing and we want to put him in the bullpen as a two-inning guy we can do that. Right now he’s being stretched out to start because at least it gives us more options, more flexibility. We’re not committing to anything because we just don’t know how his stuff’s going to be, how his command’s going to be."
One way or the other, Stroman is destined to rejoin the Blue Jays in September, either as an active player or to continue his recuperation, so he can participate in a pennant race in some form.
"I do think it will be important for him to be exposed to that," said Anthopoulos. "Contending, competitive, important games in September; being around pros like that, that can only help him."
The Blue Jays are kicking around 6-8 September call ups when rosters expand, some at the beginning of the month, others once the minor-league season ends Sept. 7.
"We’re going to keep it as small a group as we can and have guys who we think are going to have a chance to play and impact the team, rather than having someone here just for the sake of having them here," said Anthopoulos. "Gibby’s going to want guys in the bullpen that can get us outs. Everyone counts."
What are the chances the Blue Jays make any waiver deals before month’s end? "I’d say unlikely at this point," said Anthopoulos. "We have five days left, anything can happen, but right now I wouldn’t expect us to do anything."
A sense that Devon Travis’ injury wouldn’t heal quickly led to the acquisition of Cliff Pennington: "Just the way things were going, the way things were progressing, knowing the last time it had taken six weeks, and it just seemed like at the time he was recovering even slower than the last time," said Anthopoulos. "Cause even last time, he was recovering but it was start and stop, he was getting better, he played in some games, then we had to shut him down again. It wasn’t even to that point. I was just worried about our middle infield depth. Johnny Diaz has been up and down, he’s had some arm issues in the minor-leagues, we had (Munenori) Kawasaki, Steve Tolleson just decided he didn’t want to play anymore."
The injuries to Travis’ left shoulder are in a similar area: "From what I understand it could be a nerve entrapment issue, they’re not sure," said Anthopoulos. "No one’s ever been really able to pinpoint it but they do feel it will resolve; it just needs some resting. He did have the shot and from what I was told within five days we should have a better idea of how he recovers and that will be telling so that will be Sunday or Monday. We should have a good idea. Is he starting to respond? Is he starting to move in the right direction? If he is we’ll continue to move forward. If not we may just elect to shut him down."
Anthopoulos said finding ways to replenish the farm system will be discussed during the off-season: "But we have some guys," he said. "What happens is the next guys move up. Connor Greene right now is probably becoming our best prospect on the mound and we’re really excited about him. He’s 20-years-old, he’s up to 98, he’s in New Hampshire and tremendous stuff, tremendous competitor, he’s coming really fast. He’s making tremendous strides. He’s not famous but he’s about to be. The same way Norris wasn’t famous and some of these other guys, (Roberto) Osuna wasn’t famous. We’re excited about Sean-Reid Foley, we’re excited about Anthony Alford, obviously, we have guys like Dalton Pompey. We’re excited about Vladdy Guerrero Jr., we’re excited about (Richard) Urena. (Rowdy) Tellez, first baseman in Dunedin, just broke his hamate but he’s really exciting middle of the order power bat. The guys who got moved were the guys that were famous, and now this next wave, we think we have another really good crop and I think we’re going to supplement that with hopefully some strong drafts and good Latin American signings."
The Blue Jays may redeploy some of their scouts to more advanced work on opposing teams next month: "We’ve talked about potentially doing that," said Anthopoulos. "I don’t think we’re there yet. When the time comes, we’ll look to do that. See where we’re at in mid-September and go from there."