Blue Jays scratch Manoah from Sunday start due to ‘cranky’ shoulder

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider says pitcher Alek Manoah has shoulder soreness but there is no structural damage.

DUNEDIN, Fla. — Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Alek Manoah had been slated to make his second start of the spring Sunday, but after feeling soreness in his right shoulder midway through a recent bullpen session, those plans are on hold.

Manoah went for an MRI after experiencing the soreness Friday, and no structural concerns emerged, according to manager John Schneider.

“Didn’t really bounce back the way he wanted to after his start, so we’re just taking it day to day right now,” Schneider said. “Feels a little bit cranky and just wanted to be extra, extra careful.”

The Blue Jays anticipate giving Manoah a few days of rest before determining next steps, but there’s hope this absence won’t need to be a long one. Meanwhile, Paolo Espino will start in Manoah’s place in Fort Myers on Sunday, when the Blue Jays visit the Boston Red Sox.

In Manoah’s Grapefruit League debut, he pitched 1.2 innings against the Detroit Tigers, allowing a walk and three hits while hitting three batters and throwing more balls than strikes. He didn’t strike anyone out, but his four-seam fastball averaged 93.7 mph, a positive for Manoah and the Blue Jays.

Before that outing in Lakeland, Fla., the last time he’d pitched in a game environment was Aug. 10, after which his 2023 season ended. He had PRP shots in his right shoulder during the off-season, but resumed throwing in plenty of time for a normal spring progression.

On paper, Manoah is the Blue Jays’ fifth starter behind Kevin Gausman, Jose Berrios, Chris Bassitt and Yusei Kikuchi. Bowden Francis would likely be next in line for the rotation, with Mitch White also in the mix.

Prospect Ricky Tiedemann is making his way back from a left hamstring/knee issue, and Cuban right-hander Yariel Rodriguez is ramping up slowly, but was slated to throw a bullpen session at the Blue Jays’ player development complex Saturday.

Best-case scenario, though, the Blue Jays don’t have to dip into that depth just yet.

“Hopefully, it’s nothing crazy and (Manoah) can get right back into it,” Schneider said. “Just wait and see after a couple days.”

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