Blue Jays’ Guerrero Jr. back in starting lineup as DH vs. Rays

Toronto Blue Jays' Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hits a three-run home run against the Boston Red Sox during third inning American League MLB baseball action in Toronto on Friday, September 15, 2023. (Chris Young/CP)

The Toronto Blue Jays will have Vladimir Guerrero Jr.‘s bat back in their starting lineup against the Tampa Bay Rays on Friday.

Guerrero, who was absent from the team’s starting lineup for back-to-back games against the New York Yankees with right knee inflammation, will be the Blue Jays’ designated hitter on Friday and bat third.

The 24-year-old slugger pinch hit in Thursday’s loss to the Yankees after an MRI revealed no structural damage to his knee. Toronto went on to lose, 5-3.

Manager John Schneider said the hope is to have Guerrero back at first base on Saturday.

“I think having the MRI kind of give him peace of mind was a good thing,” Toronto manager John Schneider told reporters. “He knows his body really well. He plays a lot. So, he knows when he’s feeling good and when he’s feeling eh.”

A three-time All-Star, Guerrero is hitting .264 with 24 homers, 90 RBIs and a .781 OPS in 147 games. He has played 115 games at first base after appearing in the field 128 times last season when he batted .274 with 32 homers and 97 RBIs and an .891 OPS in 160 games.

The Blue Jays will need his bat in the crucial three-game set against the Rays as they look to secure an AL wild-card spot. Toronto enters play Friday just a half-game up on both the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners.

Meanwhile, Brandon Belt (back) hit off a machine on Friday in Tampa. The team will determine next steps on Saturday.

You can watch Guerrero and the Blue Jays take on the Rays on Friday live on Sportsnet and Sportsnet+ at 6:40 p.m. ET / 3:40 p.m. PT.

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