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Pearce emerges as fill-in leadoff man

Outfielder in top spot with Travis resting
MLB.com @gregorMLB

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Blue Jays appear to have settled on their leadoff man whenever second baseman Devon Travis needs a day off. The winning candidate is outfielder Steve Pearce.

With Travis resting for the series opener vs. the Rays on Thursday night, Pearce got the start in the leadoff spot, and that's a trend that will likely continue. It helped that the Blue Jays were facing lefty Blake Snell, but whenever Travis needs some time away, they'll likely turn to the versatile Pearce.

Full Game Coverage

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Blue Jays appear to have settled on their leadoff man whenever second baseman Devon Travis needs a day off. The winning candidate is outfielder Steve Pearce.

With Travis resting for the series opener vs. the Rays on Thursday night, Pearce got the start in the leadoff spot, and that's a trend that will likely continue. It helped that the Blue Jays were facing lefty Blake Snell, but whenever Travis needs some time away, they'll likely turn to the versatile Pearce.

Full Game Coverage

"With Devon not in there, I figured throw him up there, lefty on the mound," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Pearce can hit now. That's always been his game."

Travis' absence in the lineup initially sparked some concern that he might be hurt, but Gibbons insisted that was not the case. After missing most of Spring Training as Travis worked his way back from last year's knee surgery, the club simply wants to make sure he's not overworked during the early stages of the season.

Osuna to throw Saturday
Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna will throw in a simulated game on Saturday afternoon at Tropicana Field. Osuna is on the 10-day disabled list because of neck spasms, and he's not eligible to return until Tuesday's home opener vs. Milwaukee.

Video: Justice on Osuna being placed on the disabled list

Toronto does not feel the need to send Osuna on a rehab assignment before he comes off the DL. Instead he will throw in a controlled environment at the Rays' ballpark to get his pitch count up before he returns early next week.

"On Saturday, he'll just come out and throw to a couple of our guys," Gibbons said. "That way they can control it and he can throw as many pitches as he needs to. If he goes over [to the Minors], he might throw five pitches."

Bolsinger clears waivers
Right-hander Mike Bolsinger has cleared waivers and will report to Triple-A Buffalo later this week. Bolsinger recently was designated for assignment after he lost a battle for the final spot in the bullpen with right-hander Ryan Tepera. Bolsinger was out of options on his contract and could not be optioned to the Minors, but he will remain with the organization after other teams from around Major League Baseball decided to take a pass.

Buffalo recently announced its five-man starting rotation, so it's not immediately clear in what capacity Bolsinger will be used with the Bisons. Either way, he provides some additional starting depth and also could become an option for Toronto's bullpen later in the year, barring injuries.

Maile joins Blue Jays
Toronto claimed catcher Luke Maile from Tampa Bay on Thursday afternoon, and he will report to Triple-A Buffalo. Maile recently was designated for assignment by the Rays, but he has a pair of Minor League options remaining on his contract and the Blue Jays added him to increase their depth behind the plate.

Maile has appeared in parts of two seasons with the Rays and has a career slash line of .214/.234/.338. He's known as a glove-first catcher, and he'll likely split time with Juan Graterol behind the plate at Triple-A. Toronto is currently set on the big league roster with Russell Martin and Jarrod Saltalamacchia at catcher.

Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Toronto Blue Jays, Steve Pearce, Devon Travis