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Grichuk day to day with minor rib cage injury

Pearce returns to lineup; Stroman to pitch in exhibition game Saturday
MLB.com @gregorMLB

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Randal Grichuk did not make the bus ride to Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday morning as previously scheduled, but the Blue Jays' right fielder insists his rib cage issue is minor.

Manager John Gibbons previously said that Grichuk was expected to return to the lineup against the Red Sox, but instead he remained behind in Dunedin. Grichuk said he expects to return soon, but the Blue Jays don't want to force the issue and risk a setback prior to Opening Day.

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DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Randal Grichuk did not make the bus ride to Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday morning as previously scheduled, but the Blue Jays' right fielder insists his rib cage issue is minor.

Manager John Gibbons previously said that Grichuk was expected to return to the lineup against the Red Sox, but instead he remained behind in Dunedin. Grichuk said he expects to return soon, but the Blue Jays don't want to force the issue and risk a setback prior to Opening Day.

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"My side has been a little tight, kind of pulling a little bit," Grichuk said Thursday morning. "We figured it would be best to treat it, manage it -- instead of playing through it -- take a few days and be on the safe side. ... We're kind of taking it day by day, seeing how the body reacts each day to adding more and more. Just seeing how it goes."

Grichuk is set to take over for Jose Bautista as Toronto's starting right fielder, but his work this spring has been limited because of injuries. First, Grichuk sprained his left wrist while making a diving play against the Yankees on Feb. 27. He later sat for four games before the rib cage became an issue.

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Grichuk doesn't know exactly when he sustained the latest injury but admitted it became worse over time. It's one of the main reasons that with two weeks until Opening Day, the 26-year-old has been limited to 17 at-bats over seven games this spring.

"It's unfortunate, obviously you don't want to miss time and you want to be able to take the spring to get ready for the season," Grichuk said. "But the good thing is, spring is longer than we need and it's now and not later in the season."

Video: TOR@BOS: Pearce cranks RBI double to drive in Gudino

Injury updates

The injury news was more positive for Steve Pearce, who made his return to the Blue Jays' lineup in afternoon's 7-5 loss to the Red Sox. Pearce went 1-for-3 with an RBI double and a walk at designated hitter in his first game since he was sidelined with a strained calf muscle on March 4. Pearce's workload will progress to include left field, but if for some reason he is unable to go by Opening Day, then Teoscar Hernandez would crack the 25-man roster.

Marcus Stroman is on track to pitch two innings in an exhibition game against the Canadian Junior National Team on Saturday afternoon. Stroman tossed a pair of bullpen sessions this week after being previously shut down with right shoulder inflammation, and he will now begin the process of getting stretched out.

Third baseman Josh Donaldson dismissed any notion that he is dealing with an injured calf muscle. Gibbons alluded to the injury earlier this week and Donaldson was recently removed from a game against the Yankees after one inning, but the potential MVP candidate said it was simply an issue of dehydration.

"It" s a non-issue," said Donaldson, who expects to play Friday vs. Philadelphia. "No calf issue. I had a cramp in my calf. I had acupuncture. It was sore the next day. Took it easy. Ready to go."

Staying in Lansing

The Blue Jays officially announced a two-year extension on their player-development contract with Class A Lansing. The new deal will see the Lugnuts remain Toronto's affiliate in the Midwest League through at least 2020.

"We feel strongly about continuing our partnership with the Lansing Lugnuts," Blue Jays director of player development Gil Kim said. "The renovated Cooley Law School Stadium presents one of the top facilities and playing surfaces in Minor League Baseball. When our players arrive in Lansing, they are welcomed by the Lugnuts organization and the city of Lansing, and begin playing in front of a passionate fan base."

Latest roster trimming

Right-hander Taylor Guerrieri, infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and outfielder Dwight Smith Jr. were among the players optioned to Minor League camp on Friday morning. All three players are expected to begin the year at Triple-A Buffalo and will now continue their preparations at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. Andrew Case, Jose Fernandez, Chris Rowley and Justin Shafer -- who are not on the 40-man roster -- also were returned to Minor League camp.

Up next: Veteran lefty Jaime Garcia will take the mound when the Blue Jays visit the Phillies on Friday afternoon in an exclusive audio webcast on bluejays.com, with first pitch scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET. Donaldson is expected to make his return to the lineup but it's not immediately clear whether that will be at third base or DH.

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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