DUNEDIN, Fla. – In one corner of the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse, a player cheerfully slaps five and talks trash with teammates en route to the field for stretch, while in another, a sombre youngster drops his bag in frustration and quietly packs his belongings after being told he isn’t making the club.
The dichotomy of fates played out Monday afternoon as the initial 25-man roster moved a few steps closer to resolution. Mat Latos was informed he won’t be on the team, said manager John Gibbons, and a source told Sportsnet that he would stay with the organization rather than utilize one of the opt outs in his minor-league contract.
Gibbons also confirmed out-of-options reliever Bo Schultz is slated to visit with a specialist in New York on Tuesday to examine an elbow injury and will start the season on the disabled list, a turn of events that seemingly leaves swingman Mike Bolsinger, power arms Ryan Tepera and Dominic Leone and lefty Aaron Loup up for the final two spots in the bullpen.
Indications are Loup will make the club as a second lefty to complement J.P. Howell, leaving the final spot between Bolsinger, who offers length and is out of options, and Tepera and Leone, who can be optioned.
"Ideally one of (the spots) can give you some innings, that’s very important, that way we can protect our go-to guys a little bit," said Gibbons. "One of those guys needs to be able to throw two, three innings, that’s for sure."
The Blue Jays will be happy to keep Latos around to offer further starting depth at triple-A Buffalo alongside options such as Casey Lawrence and Lucas Harrell. One of their primary concerns is who steps in if one of their starters gets hurt and given his past success, Latos offers a nice insurance policy.
"We’d love him to go down to triple-A, keep starting down there in case something happens and we need him," said Gibbons, adding the final bullpen composition was "still up in the air … that’s going to come down to the wire."
A handful of players were seen being tapped on the shoulder to learn of their fate. Roster cuts expected to take effect Tuesday were Chad Girodo, Tim Mayza, Jeff Beliveau, Leonel Campos and Lawrence.
SHORT HOPS: Closer Roberto Osuna was slated to pitch Monday night against the Philadelphia Phillies. … The Blue Jays won’t bring second baseman Devon Travis with them to Montreal, leaving him in Florida until the season opens in Baltimore. "He’s going to playing down here," said John Gibbons. "We just thought it’s a different kind of turf, he’s been battling that knee thing, why even take a chance. It’s not like the turf we play on in Montreal." Asked if that means that Travis will be ready for opening day, Gibbons replied: "It’s starting to look that way but nothing is definite yet."… Jose Bautista is also skipping the Montreal trip to attend his brother’s wedding. "Sorry, Montreal," cracked Gibbons.