DUNEDIN, Fla. -- So far, so good for Aaron Sanchez and his problematic right middle finger.Sanchez threw his second bullpen session of Spring Training on Saturday morning, and once again, he came away feeling fine. There have been no signs of the recurring blister issue that limited him to 36
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- So far, so good for Aaron Sanchez and his problematic right middle finger.
Sanchez threw his second bullpen session of Spring Training on Saturday morning, and once again, he came away feeling fine. There have been no signs of the recurring blister issue that limited him to 36 innings in 2017.
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Toronto intends to take a normal approach with Sanchez this spring. He started throwing early, he's expected to make his spring debut on time, and barring any setbacks, he should be ready to go by the start of the season.
"He looks good, feels good," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "There are no signs at all of the blister, which is our No. 1 concern right now. For a guy who basically missed the whole year, he looks pretty sharp."
Cracking the top 100
The Blue Jays had three players who cracked MLB Network's annual Top 100 Players Right Now list. Third baseman Josh Donaldson was ranked No. 9, Justin Smoak was listed at No. 92 and right-hander Marcus Stroman came in at No. 96.
Donaldson finished one spot ahead of Astros shortstop Carlos Correa and one spot behind Cubs third baseman Kristopher Bryant. According to MLB Network, "Baserunning, defensive value and award finishes were all taken into account when evaluating players, including ones returning from injury."
Searching for that second lefty
The Blue Jays ideally would like to start the year with two lefties in the bullpen, but it's still too early to say whether that will be possible. Aaron Loup appears to have a guaranteed job, while the second lefty would be chosen from a group that includes veteran Craig Breslow, Matt Dermody and Tim Mayza.
Breslow appears to be the frontrunner, because Mayza and Dermody can be optioned to the Minor Leagues. Breslow signed a Minor League deal, but pitchers with his type of service time typically are allowed to seek opportunities elsewhere if they do not crack the 25-man roster.
"I thought Dermody really came on last year in the second half of the season," Gibbons said. "Mayza got his first callup and did some things. He needs a little more work, but it doesn't mean he can't be on the team, because I think he's going to have a heck of a career in the big leagues.
"How many you carry, that's hard to say right now, how it all pieces together. Seven-man or eight-man will determine a lot. Whether there's a long guy. It's really too early to tell right now. ... Ideally, you carry a couple of them."
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The call for arms
The Blue Jays are still looking to add one final piece to their bullpen, and it will likely come via free agency. Toronto doesn't have a lot of money left to spend, but there should still be enough to add another reliever. The decision the Blue Jays must make is whether the priority is acquiring a one-inning reliever to replace Dominic Leone or instead add a swingman who could open the year as the long reliever and provide some additional starting depth.
Some of the options on the open market include Jesse Chavez, Scott Feldman or even Chris Tillman if they can't find a starting job elsewhere. Tyler Clippard is also a possibility for the one-inning role.
"There still are some interesting arms out there," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said, without getting into specifics. "Some of them former starters. Some guys we might look at in a more creative way. Don't want to limit ourselves just yet and say it would be a one-inning guy. I would say, in today's game, more and more relievers are becoming one-inning guys. Maybe it's one-plus, but it's rare to have multiple guys who are pitching multiple innings in a Major League bullpen."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.