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5 questions Blue Jays face before season

Tough decisions for Gibbons as Opening Day approaches
MLB.com @gregorMLB

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays entered Spring Training with several pressing questions. Most of them have been answered only to be replaced with new ones.

Jaime Garcia is the fifth starter. Devon Travis and Aaron Sanchez are healthy, but Troy Tulowitzki is not. Joe Biagini likely will begin the year in a starting role. We've learned a lot about this team in three short weeks, but some uncertainty remains.

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DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays entered Spring Training with several pressing questions. Most of them have been answered only to be replaced with new ones.

Jaime Garcia is the fifth starter. Devon Travis and Aaron Sanchez are healthy, but Troy Tulowitzki is not. Joe Biagini likely will begin the year in a starting role. We've learned a lot about this team in three short weeks, but some uncertainty remains.

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Here's a closer look at five pressing questions that need to be answered before the end of Spring Training:

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

Who hits leadoff?
Travis or Curtis Granderson. Manager John Gibbons seemingly ruled out Granderson at the start of camp, but he was far less decisive when posed the question again Thursday. Travis might still be the favorite, but Granderson has been in the role plenty of times before. The 15-year veteran has started 864 games as a leadoff man, and while he posted a .334 on-base percentage with the Mets last season, that number dropped to .288 over his final 36 games with the Dodgers.

"We don't know how it's going to all shake out," Gibbons said. "Certain guys, you want them to get as many at-bats as you can. And [leadoff is] always a possibility, too. He's done that a lot in his career. We've been looking for that leadoff guy. We've got Devon. We've got some options, so I can't tell you."

Video: PHI@TOR: Granderson hits a solo homer to right-center

Will the Blue Jays split up Justin Smoak and Kendrys Morales in the batting order?
Most projections had Smoak and Morales hitting back-to-back in the lineup. That was the configuration Gibbons went with for the majority of last season, but recently he has been trying something different. For the last two games with his A-list lineup, Gibbons went with Smoak, Russell Martin and Morales in the 4-5-6 slots.

"Just experimenting a little," Gibbons said.

Smoak and Morales don't necessarily need to be separated because they're both switch-hitters, but putting a righty between them would help even out the bottom half of the order. Granderson is the only other regular besides Smoak and Morales who bats left.

Video: TOR@DET: Smoak, Morales go back-to-back in the 1st

Extra infielder or eight-man bullpen?
With Tulowitzki all but officially guaranteed to hit the DL, Aledmys Diaz appears set to become Toronto's interim shortstop. That opens a spot on the bench, and odds are it'll go to infielder Gift Ngoepe. But there's an outside chance the Blue Jays could use this opportunity to carry an extra reliever instead.

Toronto currently has a long list of candidates for two jobs in the 'pen. Tyler Clippard, John Axford, Al Alburquerque and Craig Breslow are the favorites, while Luis Santos remains a darkhorse candidate. If Tulowitzki was healthy, this wouldn't be a question but since he's not, Toronto could temporarily begin the year with an eight-man 'pen. This would be a short-term solution at best because the backup infielder in this case -- Yangervis Solarte -- isn't much more than an emergency option at shortstop.

Video: Clippard inks Minor League deal with Blue Jays

Who will start on Opening Day?
Marcus Stroman played catch each of the last two days, but he remains doubtful for the start of the year. Opening Day is barely three weeks away, and Stroman will need time to get properly stretched out after he was shut down because of right shoulder inflammation. The Blue Jays have not provided a definitive timeline for his return, but it seems very likely that Stroman will have to miss at least a start or two.

Stroman would have been Toronto's Opening Day starter, but now the honor might go to lefty J.A. Happ. Sanchez is another candidate, but the Blue Jays are taking a cautious approach after he missed almost all of last year with blister issues, so he might be pushed to the back end of the staff.

Video: PIT@TOR: Happ holds Pirates to one run over three

Who gets cut from the 40-man roster?
All five relief candidates -- Clippard, Axford, Alburquerque, Breslow and Santos -- signed Minor League deals and are not on the 40-man roster. That's a problem because Toronto's roster is full, so moves will need to be made to open up a couple of spots.

Outfielders Dwight Smith Jr. and Dalton Pompey are on the bubble with Anthony Alford and Teoscar Hernandez ahead of them on the depth chart. Right-hander Taylor Guerrieri could be a possibility as well, but the Blue Jays will want to prioritize pitching depth. Another possibility is either Tulowitzki or Carlos Ramirez opening the year on the 60-day DL. That seems like a longshot, but Ramirez has been out with a sore shoulder, while Tulowitzki continues to be limited with a bone spur in his right heel.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

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