Blue Jays’ Guerrero Jr. has no structural damage to knee: ‘Little bit of relief’

Toronto Blue Jays manager John Schneider discusses the status of Vladimir Guerrero Jr., saying the first baseman is considered day-to-day and could be available off the bench on Thursday after an MRI revealed no structural damage to the knee.

NEW YORK (AP) — Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. got good news Thursday when an MRI on his right knee showed inflammation and no structural damage.

Guerrero was held off the starting lineup for the second straight night as the Blue Jays completed a three-game series with the Yankees. He is day-to-day and could be available off the bench on Thursday night. Toronto opens a three-game series in Tampa, Florida against the playoff-bound Rays on Friday.

Although he didn’t start the game, Guerrero did pinch-hit in the ninth inning on Thursday as part of a late Blue Jays’ rally, hitting into a fielders choice. The Blue Jays went on to lose 5-3.

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

Guerrero was a late scratch Wednesday and underwent an MRI during Toronto’s 6-1 win.

“I was worried about it, but I found out the results and it was a little bit of relief,” Guerrero said through translator Hector LeBron. “Of course I’m sad that I can’t be in the lineup, try to do my best. I guess I got to take a rest or something but I’ll be OK.

The slugger had been slated to bat third as the designated hitter for the Blue Jays, who are in a close playoff race. Toronto was a game ahead of Texas and Seattle for the second of three American League wild-card spots.

“It’s very hard for me not being in the lineup but thank God we’re in an OK position right now,” Guerrero said. “We’re holding onto a playoff spot. So I’d rather take care of this now and not risk myself losing the rest of the season or a playoff.”

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About two hours before Wednesday game, Schneider said Guerrero’s sore right knee has been “barking” for a couple of days and he’s been “grinding” through it.

Guerrero went 0 for 5 Tuesday night in a 7-1 victory and was lifted for a pinch-runner in the ninth inning after reaching on an error. He said he had been dealing with knee pain all season but woke up with the inflammation Tuesday.

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.

He became the first Toronto player to win the Home Run Derby during All-Star festivities in Seattle — making him and his dad the first father-son duo to both win the event.

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