As the Blue Jays wrap up the spring schedule, a real test will begin

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As the Blue Jays wrap up the spring schedule, a real test will begin


TORONTO – From here they all count.
After finishing their Grapefruit League schedule with a 13-7 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on Monday, the Blue Jays have two days off during which they will establish their opening day roster and travel to New York. in anticipation of a series with the Yankees. . Finally, a chance to feature a much improved roster in games that matter.

But first, the Blue Jays need to take care of the last spring business. With several rosters still evolving, there are decisions to be made before embarking on the charter for New York. But until there is more clarity on the status of George Springer, who had a follow-up MRI on his painful oblique on Monday, the Blue Jays are not letting go.

And then there is a larger question. Was this spring a success?

Given that the closer Kirby Yates will miss the season with Tommy John’s surgery and Springer could well open the year on the injured list with Nate Pearson and Thomas Hatch, the answer is far from a resounding ‘yes’. That’s a lot of talent on the sidelines.

But there were certainly bright spots for those who were inclined to view it more optimistically – the impact that Springer and Marcus Semien seem to have had in the clubhouse, for example, or the encouraging performances of Alejandro Kirk. , Tim Mayza and TJ Zeuch.

From his point of view in the Blue Jays dugout, Charlie Montoyo prefers to focus on the positive aspects. Despite the injuries sustained by the team, Montoyo considers it the best spring he has ever competed in due to the improvements he has seen in throwing and defense.

“Just the work we did, how much we improved,” Montoyo said. “(Pitching coach) Pete Walker telling pitchers to pitch. Our defense made the plays. that everyone has improved. ”

Following his Monday exit, Zeuch revealed he is part of the squad, although his role remains uncertain for now. At this point, a point of rotation has yet to be discussed with Zeuch and Trent Thornton seemingly the main contenders for the opportunity. A bullpen game also remains in play for the Blue Jays, potentially starting Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

But with Joe Panik and Mayza set to be added to the 40-player roster, two players will also have to come out. The Blue Jays will free up one of those spots by moving Yates to the 60 Day IL, but to create the second spot they’ll have to remove Reese McGuire, Breyvic Valera, or both. If Francisco Liriano is part of the squad, three places will be needed.

This time of year is just the cost of doing business and there is still the possibility of these players wiping out waivers, allowing the Blue Jays to hide them in their five-player cab squad or on their alternate site.

Of course, these are the details. Regardless of how these latest decisions play out, it’s worth remembering that the 26-player roster can and will change. In a few days, other moves will be necessary. In a few months, a significant portion of the list will have been returned.

In many ways, that’s a good thing for the Blue Jays, given that some of their most important players are likely to start the year on the sidelines (Pearson is playing a long draw, while Hatch is playing wrestling. ). But it would be naive to think that more injuries won’t appear as the season progresses. They are inevitable.

With that in mind, the most pressing question isn’t whether the Blue Jays had a successful spring. However you answer this question, it’s over and much bigger challenges await.

Now is the time for 162 games in 185 days, an unprecedented increase in pitching workload and high expectations for a team that has just spent record amounts of free agency. In a way, it seems a little intimidating. But for a young Blue Jays team who will get out of trouble every now and then, it could be a lot of fun, too.

“By adding the players that we added, the confidence is really high,” said Montoyo.

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