DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada is taking a cautious approach to the start of Spring Training, and while that's mostly by design, it's also because he has been dealing with tightness in his lower back.Estrada is coming off a year in which he tossed a career-high 200
DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada is taking a cautious approach to the start of Spring Training, and while that's mostly by design, it's also because he has been dealing with tightness in his lower back.
Estrada is coming off a year in which he tossed a career-high 200 1/3 combined innings during the regular season and postseason. His previous high was 150 2/3 innings in 2014, and because of the discrepancy, Toronto wanted to take things slow.
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The plan all along was to give Estrada a delayed start to Spring Training, and he has yet to begin throwing bullpens. Even so, there was a minor injury to deal with, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons doesn't anticipate that it will cause any problems down the road.
"He's just playing toss right now," Gibbons said. " ... He wasn't going to pitch early in camp anyway, then he had a little back tightness, but it really hasn't hindered his plan at all, to be honest with you. He's not too far off. He's feeling pretty good."
Estrada signed a two-year contract worth $26 million with the Blue Jays during the offseason, and he's expected to begin the year as the club's No. 2 starter. Last season, he became an integral part of the rotation and exceeded expectations with a 13-8 record and 3.13 ERA in 34 games, which included 28 starts, in the regular season.
• Right-hander Drew Storen threw another bullpen Saturday morning, and he is drawing rave reviews from his teammates and coaching staff. The Blue Jays have yet to make it official, but he likely is the leading candidate to be named closer, while Roberto Osuna also remains in the mix.
"It was dynamite," Gibbons said. "It really looked good. It was nice to see. He has that hesitation, and he's aggressive. He lets it fly, I know that. I've been very impressed. He has to be good -- he has been closing out games for a few years now. He's not doing that with magic."
• The Blue Jays have scheduled an intrasquad game for Monday morning at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. That will be the club's final tuneup before the start of the Grapefruit League season, when right-hander Marcus Stroman takes the mound against the Phillies on March 1 in a 1:05 p.m. ET start at Bright House Field.
"Little later start, I don't know how much later it was than last year, but we're in good shape," Gibbons said. "These guys show up in great shape, we got through our two days of live BP and we're excited."
Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.