ARLINGTON -- The biggest question mark for the Blue Jays entering their American League Division Series rematch against the Rangers surrounds the availability of closer Roberto Osuna.Osuna was removed during the 10th inning of Tuesday's AL Wild Card Game win over Baltimore because of a right shoulder injury. He reported
ARLINGTON -- The biggest question mark for the Blue Jays entering their American League Division Series rematch against the Rangers surrounds the availability of closer Roberto Osuna.
Osuna was removed during the 10th inning of Tuesday's AL Wild Card Game win over Baltimore because of a right shoulder injury. He reported to Globe Life Park in Arlington on Wednesday and was feeling better, but it's not immediately clear whether he will be ready for Thursday's Game 1 (4:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. CT on TBS in the United States and in English on Sportsnet and in French on TVA in Canada).
Blue Jays manager John Gibbons was asked a series of questions Wednesday afternoon about Osuna's status, but for the most part he remained coy. Aside from confirming that Osuna will be on the roster, the details were scarce as the club appears to be playing a bit of gamesmanship.
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"He feels better today," Gibbons said. "We'll see, not sure what's going to happen [Thursday]. We don't think it's going to be a big deal but it's probably wise to be a little bit cautious this time of year. But he feels better today."
Osuna was in the trainer's room at Rogers Centre getting treatment when Edwin Encarnacion hit a walk-off three-run homer vs. the Orioles in the Wild Card Game. The native of Mexico ran onto the field to celebrate, but afterward told reporters that doctors said he would likely need a couple of days of rest.
The injury appears to be related to the heavy workload he went through during the final stretch of the regular season. Osuna has pitched in all but four of Toronto's previous 11 games and tossed 8 1/3 innings over that stretch while throwing 156 pitches. According to Osuna, the medical staff told him he wasn't "hurt" but instead was experiencing fatigue which led to a stretching sensation in his shoulder.
Osuna did not speak to the media Wednesday afternoon, but the night before he expressed optimism about being able to resume his normal role against the Rangers.
"The doctor told me that I was going to be fine," said Osuna, who posted a 2.68 ERA and 36 saves during the regular season. "I just need a couple of days off. I have been pitching a lot lately and he thinks it's just fatigue because of the last two weeks."
If Osuna cannot go, Toronto will have to use a patchwork solution to fill the void at the end of the bullpen. Right-hander Jason Grilli becomes a prime candidate to enter for a possible save opportunity, while left-hander Francisco Liriano will continue to see a prominent role at the end of games.
Liriano has spent most of his career as a starter, but he made two relief appearances in early September and was moved back to the bullpen at the start of the postseason. He picked up the victory over Baltimore by tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings after Osuna came out of the game and he's expected to be an X-factor once again heading into this series.
The 11-year veteran will join forces with Rule 5 Draft pick Joe Biagini, fellow lefty Brett Cecil and Grilli to form the core of Toronto's bullpen with or without Osuna in the closer mix.
"He's got the stuff to be a very good reliever," Gibbons said of Liriano. "He can be a very good starter if he throws the ball over the plate. He can handle both sides, lefty/righty, doesn't matter and he gets strikeouts and ground balls. I would expect he would be very valuable this series, however far this goes."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.