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Tulo's injury, moves impact Blue Jays' roster

Diaz will be Opening Day shortstop; Toronto added trio of arms
MLB.com @gregorMLB

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- With Opening Day just more than two weeks away, it's time to revisit MLB.com's predictions for the Blue Jays' 25-man roster.

A lot has changed since the last time these predictions were made in mid-February. Jaime Garcia joined the rotation, Tyler Clippard and Seung Hwan Oh were added to the bullpen and Troy Tulowitzki was ruled out for the start of the season because of a right foot injury.

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- With Opening Day just more than two weeks away, it's time to revisit MLB.com's predictions for the Blue Jays' 25-man roster.

A lot has changed since the last time these predictions were made in mid-February. Jaime Garcia joined the rotation, Tyler Clippard and Seung Hwan Oh were added to the bullpen and Troy Tulowitzki was ruled out for the start of the season because of a right foot injury.

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Each of those moves had a direct impact on Toronto's projected 25-man roster. Here's a closer look at where things stand and what changed from the start of Spring Training.

Catchers (2): Russell Martin and Luke Maile
It's status quo for the Blue Jays' backstops. Danny Jansen and Reese McGuire will offer insurance in the Minor Leagues, but neither one was a real threat to head north at the end of camp. Both prospects are competing to become the first callup if either Martin or Maile goes down with an injury.

First base (1): Justin Smoak
The 31-year-old will have the difficult task of trying to repeat his performance from a year ago. Smoak set career highs in every major statistical category, including home runs (38), RBIs (90) and Wins Above Replacement (3.2). The concern is that Smoak posted a .717 OPS over the final two months.

Second base (1): Devon Travis
The 27-year-old has been one of the most positive developments for the Blue Jays in Spring Training. Travis became a full participant in camp a little bit earlier than expected following last year's right knee surgery, and all signs point to him being 100 percent for Opening Day. He's expected to hit first or second in the batting order, and he is one of the biggest wild cards this team has.

Video: PIT@TOR: Travis belts a two-run homer in the 2nd

Shortstop (1): Aledmys Diaz
This is the first change from MLB.com's initial projections. Tulowitzki arrived last month in Dunedin with a bone spur in his right heel, and he's still nowhere close to returning. The veteran shortstop has yet to begin running and isn't putting much weight on his back leg when hitting. Diaz, who was acquired from St. Louis during the offseason, will be Toronto's starting shortstop at least for the bulk of April.

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Third base (1): Josh Donaldson
The potential American League Most Valuable Player Award candidate dealt with a sore right shoulder early in Spring Training, but he should be fine for Opening Day. Donaldson is the centerpiece of Toronto's lineup, and after finishing 2017 on a tear, injuries might be the only thing that could stop him from contending for the AL's top honor again this season.

Utility infielders (2): Yangervis Solarte and Gift Ngoepe
Tulowitzki's injury bumps Diaz into a starting role and creates a spot on the bench for Ngoepe. A case could be made that the Blue Jays would be better off carrying another reliever and forgoing an extra infielder, but manager John Gibbons appeared to rule that out on Tuesday by saying they are almost certain to go with a seven-man bullpen. Ngoepe will back up three infield spots, and if Toronto needs a fresh arm early in the year, he could still be optioned to the Minors.

Video: 30 Clubs in 30 Days: Granderson on his new team

Outfielders (4): Curtis Granderson, Steve Pearce, Kevin Pillar and Randal Grichuk
This is the same group that was projected at the start of spring, and the only question mark is Pearce, who has missed almost two weeks with a minor left calf strain but is expected to return to the Blue Jays' lineup on Thursday. If Pearce is not ready for the start of the season, Teoscar Hernandez will make the team as a fourth outfielder.

Designated hitter (1): Kendrys Morales
Last year's offseason acquisition will be looking to bounce back after an underwhelming first season with Toronto. Morales hit 28 home runs, but he had a .753 OPS and 132 strikeouts in 557 at-bats. He should once again be the everyday DH, but if he struggles, this spot could be used for Pearce and Travis as well.

Starting rotation (5): J.A. Happ, Aaron Sanchez, Marco Estrada, Marcus Stroman and Garcia
The addition of Garcia isn't the only change here, as the order of the staff also won't be the same as expected earlier in camp. Stroman would have been named the Blue Jays' Opening Day starter, but he has been ruled out because of right shoulder inflammation. Toronto has yet to rule him out for the remainder of the opening series against the Yankees, but if he can't go, then right-hander Joe Biagini would temporarily enter the rotation.

Video: Stroman ruled out for Opening Day despite progress

Bullpen (7): Roberto Osuna, Ryan TeperaDanny Barnes, Aaron Loup, John Axford, Oh and Clippard
Lots of changes here. Oh and Clippard enter the bullpen in these latest predictions, while rookie Carlos Ramirez and Luis Santos have been removed. Santos is making a strong case this spring and offers versatility as a long reliever, but he's in a tough competition against veterans Axford and Clippard for the final two spots. One solution is dropping an infielder and carrying another reliever, but Gibbons has all but officially ruled that out.

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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