ST. PETERSBURG -- The Blue Jays recalled touted outfield prospect Anthony Alford from Triple-A Buffalo and optioned right-hander Jake Petricka in a corresponding move prior to Saturday night's game against the Rays at Tropicana Field.Alford's presence could help soften the loss of left fielder Curtis Granderson, who left after the
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Blue Jays recalled touted outfield prospect Anthony Alford from Triple-A Buffalo and optioned right-hander Jake Petricka in a corresponding move prior to Saturday night's game against the Rays at Tropicana Field.
Alford's presence could help soften the loss of left fielder Curtis Granderson, who left after the first inning of Friday night's game with right hamstring tightness. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said the plan is to rest Granderson through Monday's off-day, staging a potential return for Tuesday night's home game against the Mariners.
Granderson and Gibbons said they don't believe it's a serious injury.
Alford, the club's No. 3 prospect according to MLB Pipeline -- behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, two of the game's top overall prospects -- wasn't in Saturday night's starting lineup. But Gibbons said he expects Alford to quickly see some action.
"We're not exactly sure yet [how Alford will be used], but we're getting the guys up here that we need," Gibbons said. "We want them playing. We don't want them sitting around. We'll take advantage of them while we can."
Alford, who played in four MLB games last season, suffered a hamstring strain in mid-April after a strong showing in Spring Training. In 10 games with Buffalo, Alford was hitting .154/.214/.179 with 16 strikeouts in 42 plate appearances.
Meanwhile, Petricka is on his way back to the Minors after making a one-game stop with the Blue Jays. In Friday night's 6-2 defeat against the Rays, Petricka allowed an earned run and three hits over 1 1/3 innings.
Estrada's woes against the Rays
Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada (2-2, 6.19 ERA), who starts Sunday afternoon, is hoping to reverse a history of poor outings against the Rays. Estrada is 1-8 with a 4.96 ERA in 14 career appearances (10 starts) against the Rays. At Tropicana Field, he's 0-3 with a 4.59 ERA in seven career appearances (five starts).
There was a notable exception. On June 24, 2015, Estrada took a perfect game into the eighth inning, when both teams were scoreless, but he allowed a one-out infield single to then-Rays second baseman John Forsythe.
Estrada got a no-decision. The Blue Jays beat the Rays, 1-0, in 12 innings.
"We're aware of [the statistics]," Gibbons said. "It's the one team that has given him trouble.
"It almost works that way with everybody. There's one team that gives you trouble or one hitter that gives a pitcher trouble. The Rays have given him trouble, but this is a different Rays team. The faces over there have changed. So maybe things will be get better. We hope so."
Entering play Saturday, the Blue Jays led the Major Leagues in home runs (49) and had 18 different players hit homers.
"In this division, you've got to hit homers," Gibbons said. "I think our offense has more balance. I like our offense and we've got some guys who can take some shots. We had some things to address in the offseason and I think we did."
Smoak to return
Blue Jays first baseman Justin Smoak is expected back in the lineup Sunday after taking a paternity leave. His wife, Kristin, gave birth Thursday to a 9-pound, 1-oz girl, Berkleigh Grace. On her Instagram account, Kristin Smoak said the baby was "born at 1:11:11 (seriously!)."
Joey Johnston is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.