Inbox: Will Tulo be back in near future?

Beat reporter Gregor Chisholm answers questions from fans

May 22nd, 2017

Do you know why hasn't played on his rehab assignment since Thursday? Bad weather or is there some other concern?

-- @drkangman

Lots of questions this week about Tulowitzki, with plenty of concern that he suffered a setback. I can confirm that is not the case and Tulowitzki simply did not play for Class A Advanced Dunedin this weekend because the club was on a long road trip to St. Lucie, Fla., which is approximately a three-hour and 15-minute drive from Toronto's Minor League complex. Tulowitzki is scheduled to be in the lineup for Dunedin on Monday night as he continues to work his way back from a strained right hamstring. There's still no definitive time frame for his return; it will be based on how he feels, but the fact he's scheduled to play Monday means Tulo should be back in the near future. The Blue Jays also confirmed Monday afternoon that Josh Donaldson will begin his rehab assignment for Dunedin on Monday night. It's not immediately clear how many games he'll need before rejoining the big league club.

What will it take for to get a legit shot in the outfield? He has speed and I've never seen him make a throwing error. He seems to get on base and is a legit basestealer. 

-- Richard N.

Pompey would have received his shot by now if it wasn't for the concussion he sustained during the World Baseball Classic. He was ahead of , and Dwight Smith Jr. on the depth chart, but Pompey missed two months because of post-concussion symptoms and he's only now working his way back. Pompey began playing at extended spring training last week and should be nearing a rehab assignment. Eventually, he'll end up at Triple-A Buffalo, but he'll need to prove he's all the way back before another opportunity comes his way. An injury to one of Toronto's starting three outfielders could speed that process up as well.

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Why did the Blue Jays stick with Alford over Smith? I think it should have been the other way around.

-- Mark T., Calgary, Alberta

The Blue Jays stuck with Alford because he's a right-handed bat who can platoon with in left field, whereas the lefty Smith would have been a bit of a redundant piece as a fourth outfielder. Normally I wouldn't be a big fan of this move because Alford should be playing every day, but in this particular case, it's not that big of a deal because he likely only sticks around until Tulowitzki and/or Donaldson return to the big league lineup. Alford is a very promising prospect, but this is the first year he has played above Class A so he could use a little bit more seasoning in the Minors. His future remains bright.

With the emergence of as a starter, could become a potential trade option?

-- Matt J., Birmingham, United Kingdom

Liriano will definitely become a trade candidate if the Blue Jays are unable to get back into the race by early July, but he won't be dealt before then for a couple of reasons: 1. Toronto is clinging to the hope it will be able to go on a run once its roster is back to full strength; 2. Liriano needs time to rebuild his trade value, and it makes no sense to sell low on a guy who might return from the DL, string several quality starts together and net a much bigger return. Liriano is as streaky as they come, but when he's on, his stuff matches up with just about anybody and he's the type of talent contending teams typically overpay for at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

What about as a starter? He was a starter in his early days in the Minors (2010-13), so why isn't he being considered?

-- Lorne J., Edmonton, Alberta

Tepera is too far removed from his starting days to be considered a realistic option -- 2013 was a long time ago in baseball years, and at this point there's no turning back. His Minor League numbers as a starter also weren't that pretty and it's pretty evident he is best served as a max-effort, max-velocity-type pitcher who can be used in short stints. There's nothing wrong with that because he has begun to establish himself as a viable setup man and he has gained the trust of manager John Gibbons, who is now using him more regularly in high-leverage situations.

If the Blue Jays are out of it by July 31 and decide to become sellers, who are the most likely among their prospects to be called up this year?

-- Carlos G., New Jersey

No matter what happens, this likely won't be the year where there's a huge influx of players from the Minors. Rowdy Tellez could get a look later in the year. Right-hander Conner Greene would be another option depending on how he performs over the next couple of months. Alford and Smith Jr. have been up already and Pompey will eventually return. Other names to keep an eye on include Roemon Fields (.382/.443/.473 in 17 games for Triple-A Buffalo), Jason Leblebijian (.291/.379/.512 in 38 games for Buffalo) and Double-A catcher , who has struggled with the bat so far this year (.216/.311/.373).