The Blue Jays endured a pair of early exits in Sunday's 6-5, 10-inning loss to the Rays at Tropicana Field. Center fielder Randal Grichuk was removed in the sixth inning after experiencing discomfort in his right SI joint while tracking down a ball at the wall, and closer Ken Giles left with right elbow soreness after looking very uncomfortable throughout the ninth inning.
Early indications are that Giles’ could be the more serious of the two. It would be a major blow to the Blue Jays and their revamped bullpen, which suddenly has some capable high-leverage arms stacked up in front of him.
The first sign was Giles’ velocity, which typically sits in the high 90s but was suddenly in the 92-94 mph range. The right-hander lost control of the zone entirely, walking two batters after allowing a double to load the bases.
Pitching coach Pete Walker visited Giles in the middle of the inning but, after throwing ball three to Ji-Man Choi with the bases loaded, Giles walked off the mound, which brought out Charlie Montoyo and the trainer. Giles dealt with elbow issues throughout the 2019 season that often limited his ability to go back to back. This was his second appearance of the season after pitching on Opening Day.
The Blue Jays noticed the velocity dip from the dugout, but Montoyo based his initial decision to keep him in the game on the early feedback from Giles.
“We asked on the bench, but he was fine,” Montoyo said. "He said he was fine when we called from the bench, and he said he was fine.”
“I could see everybody moving up,” Montoyo said. “Instead of the sixth, he’d get the seventh, with Dolis to the eighth, or the other way around. When you lose one, then everybody moves up. That’s why Bass was there in the eighth. He’s been that good."
Grichuk's injury occurred on a deep fly from Brandon Lowe that went over his head and bounced over the wall for a ground-rule double. Grichuk wasn’t in noticeable pain at the time, but he left the game soon after with a member of the Blue Jays’ training staff.
In his place, Teoscar Hernández shifted over to center, where he spent some time in 2019.
Grichuk has been relatively healthy in his career, and he played a career-high 151 games for the Blue Jays in 2019. He was enjoying a fine game on Sunday, too, going 2-for-2 with a walk through the first six innings.