DUNEDIN, Fla. — At the start of spring training, Blue Jays pitcher Roberto Osuna didn’t think he’d have a lengthy stay in the big-league camp.
But with Toronto’s April 6 opener against the New York Yankees quickly approaching, the hard-throwing righty is a surprise contender for a spot in the rotation.
Regarded as one of the organization’s top prospects, Osuna continued to make his case Sunday, tossing 3 2/3 scoreless innings in a 3-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays that took just 2 hours, 2 minutes.
"I didn’t think I had any chance to make the team," said Osuna, who underwent ulnar collateral ligament replacement surgery in July 2013. "But right now, I’m very excited and I’m going to try to make it."
The 20-year-old Osuna allowed a double to Desmond Jennings in the first and a single to Joey Butler in the second. He struck out two, walked one and hasn’t allowed a run in five appearances.
"I’ve got to keep focused in the next outing and try to do my best," he said. "If I make the team, then good. If not, I hope to make it later."
Russell Martin hit his first homer of the spring Sunday, connecting off reliever Mike Montgomery for a solo shot in the sixth that landed far beyond the right-centre field wall. Earlier, Jose Bautista drove in Jose Reyes on a grounder in the first.
CECIL TABBED CLOSER
Toronto manager John Gibbons said left-hander Brett Cecil will be the team’s closer.
Gibbons said the competition came down to Cecil and top prospect Aaron Sanchez. But when starter Marcus Stroman went down with a season-ending knee injury last week, Sanchez was moved into Stroman’s spot and Cecil became the clear favourite for the role.
Cecil’s health this spring, however, has been a bit of a concern. He missed the start of camp with the flu, then had inflammation in his rotator cuff during a bullpen session that’s kept him out of every game.
But Gibbons said he isn’t worried.
"If everything goes in the right direction, he’d be the guy," Gibbons said. "If something happens during the season, and somebody takes over that role, then good for them."
Rays: Everett Teaford allowed three hits, two runs and struck out two in three innings.
Rays: LHP Drew Smyly (shoulder tendinitis) threw 20 pitches off a mound Saturday for the first time without any complications and is scheduled to throw again Monday. … RHP Ronald Belisario (left shoulder fracture) played catch for the second consecutive day and will again Monday. . LHP Jake McGee (elbow surgery) is scheduled to throw bullpen sessions Tuesday and Friday. . RHP Alex Colome (pneumonia) played catch Saturday for the first time since being released from a six-day hospital stay. . C Rene Rivera (left calf tightness) could return to the lineup on Wednesday against Minnesota.
Blue Jays: RHP Marco Estrada (ankle) was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday after slightly injuring his ankle during fielding practice. Gibbons said he expects Estrada to start Tuesday against Minnesota. . INF Maicer Izturis (groin strain) will be sidelined at least 10 days and likely won’t be ready to start the season. . OF Kevin Pillar (strained oblique) took outdoor batting practice for the first time since getting hurt after sneezing last Sunday. He should return to the lineup on Wednesday against Baltimore.
Rays: Grant Balfour is scheduled to make his first spring appearance in relief on Monday against the Pirates in Port Charlotte. The right-hander departed camp for 18 days to return to his native Australia to care for his father, David, who passed away March 11 after a long bout with pancreatic cancer.
Blue Jays: Todd Redmond will make his first exhibition start Tuesday against the Twins in Fort Myers. The righty has allowed just one run in five relief appearances this spring.