CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Blue Jays reliever Rafael Dolis had his appendix removed on Tuesday, leaving the club without one of its leading setup options for a period of time to be determined, with Opening Day just three weeks away.
Dolis, who underwent the procedure on what was an off-day for Toronto, was released from the hospital on Wednesday morning. He will be shut down from any strenuous activity -- like lifting or throwing -- for one week. The second week of his recovery could feature some cardio or arm care, but the Blue Jays will reevaluate at that time, as recoveries can vary.
The good news is that Dolis’ appendix did not rupture, which simplified the procedure. The Blue Jays will proceed with caution to avoid the risk of infection or the development of a hernia. The Dominican right-hander has impressed in camp since joining Toronto after playing in Japan.
“I think [Dolis’ pitch] combination is extremely effective. He’s not going to be a comfortable at-bat,” said Toronto pitching coach Pete Walker. “I know he hasn’t been here pitching in a few years, but I think he’s learned a lot in Japan. I can just tell by his demeanor and mound presence.”
Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo has mentioned Dolis as a potential back-end bullpen option every time he’s been asked, but his absence likely cracks the door open for others.
“I don’t know how long it’s going to be [for Dolis to recover], so I’m not going to say he’s not going to be ready. But if he’s not ready, of course, he’s a big part [missing],” Montoyo said. “Somebody else gets a chance. That’s how it works in baseball.”
Toronto’s bullpen has been an open competition since Day 1 of Spring Training, but especially when it comes to the later innings in front of Ken Giles. The seventh and eighth innings had belonged to Ryan Tepera, in part, for several years, along with others including Tyler Clippard, Daniel Hudson, Joe Biagini and Joe Smith.
So, who’s looked good this spring?
“Almost everybody. I don’t mean to be politically correct, but everybody is throwing the ball good in the bullpen,” Montoyo said. "They’re power arms, which I love. It’s 95 and 96 mph, which I love.”
The shift to power arms is real. It’s a move the Blue Jays are able to make now, given their rotation stability. That’s a new situation for the Blue Jays after they were forced to carry multiple long relievers in 2019. Giles, one of Toronto’s best players, is locked in as the closer, while Anthony Bass and Wilmer Font appear to be locks to join him in the bullpen. Shun Yamaguchi will be there, too, if he doesn’t land a rotation job. A.J. Cole leads another crowded group of arms in camp on Minor League deals, and there are internal options, too, like Canadian Jordan Romano.
“[Romano is] one of the guys I’m really happy about, from what I’ve seen so far,” Montoyo said. “He’s throwing 96, 97 mph. That’s what he did when he first came up last year. I was impressed, then his velo went down. Now, he looks just like [he did] the first time he came up.”
Asset management matters, though, and Romano still has options remaining. Bass has been the name mentioned alongside Dolis most often by Montoyo, but this competition could extend into April and the regular season.
Dolis’ timeline should become clearer over the next 10 days, and he may not miss much of the season at all, but in a competition this deep, even one week on the Major League roster could be enough for a reliever to stake a claim to a bigger role.