TORONTO -- Shortstop Aledmys Diaz was held out of the Blue Jays' lineup on Wednesday night because of back spasms, but Toronto expects him to return this week.Diaz is considered probable for Friday night's game against the Rangers. He was removed from Tuesday night's game against the White Sox with
TORONTO -- Shortstop Aledmys Diaz was held out of the Blue Jays' lineup on Wednesday night because of back spasms, but Toronto expects him to return this week.
Diaz is considered probable for Friday night's game against the Rangers. He was removed from Tuesday night's game against the White Sox with the back issue, but the Blue Jays don't expect it to turn into a major problem.
Mpho' Ngoepe got the start at shortstop in the series finale vs. Chicago. Ngoepe would continue to serve in that role, while Yangervis Solarte also could be considered for shortstop duties if Diaz were to have a setback.
"He's feeling much better, but we figured with the off-day [Thursday], give him today and then have that day," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Emergency or something like that we could put him in there. He's feeling better."
Lots of options in the 'pen
Dennis Tepera and Seunghwan Oh are the primary candidates to close games whenever Roberto Osuna is unavailable. Osuna is the undisputed No. 1 option, but when he needs a break, Gibbons said he would be comfortable going with either of his setup men and the choice ultimately will come down to matchups.
Gibbons said he would be more likely to use Tepera to close when there are several right-handed hitters due up. Oh would be the preferred choice if there are a couple of lefties in the mix. Lefties had a .715 OPS off Tepera last season compared to .581 for righties. The plan doesn't make quite as much sense for Oh, who allowed lefties to post a 1.006 OPS last year compared to .642 vs. righties.
"Either one of those guys could do that," Gibbons said. "Tep can get both sides out but he really dominates right-handers. Oh has a bit of a different look. Might help him a little bit more against some lefties. On any night, if someone is not available, you feel pretty good about any of them."
Morales drops in order
Gibbons dropped Kendrys Morales to the No. 7 spot of the lineup for Wednesday night's game against the White Sox after he entered with just one hit in his first 10 at-bats of the season. It is the lowest spot Morales has started in a batting lineup since April 20, 2012.
Morales might not stick in the bottom third of the lineup for very long. He lost a lot of at-bats during the first week of the season because Josh Donaldson needed to DH with a dead arm. The lack of reps means Morales is still a little rusty and Gibbons wanted to move him down until he shows signs of breaking out.
"He didn't have many at-bats with that layoff," Gibbons said. "See if we can get him going. ... He's like all of them, they need some at-bats under their belt."
The Blue Jays entered Wednesday with home runs in each of their first six games of the season. That is tied for the second-longest streak to open a season in club history, but what's even more impressive is that the home runs have come from seven different players in the lineup.
The days of Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista helping the Blue Jays slug their way through games are gone. This Blue Jays team is expected to struggle to score at times, but the overall depth and versatility of the lineup is something Toronto hopes will help pick up the level of production.
"I think time will tell," Donaldson said. "It's hard to judge that after five games, but this ballpark can definitely help you in that department. We'll see, we'll see how it plays out. I hope so."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.