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Granderson back in lineup at leadoff

MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- Curtis Granderson was back in the Blue Jays' starting lineup for Thursday night's contest vs. the Mariners for the first time since he was removed from a game against the Rays on May 4 with tightness in his right hamstring.

Granderson was cleared to return earlier this week, but did not get into the starting lineup because the Mariners were using a pair of left-handed starters. With right-hander Mike Leake on the mound for Seattle in the series finale, Granderson was moved back into the leadoff spot.

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TORONTO -- Curtis Granderson was back in the Blue Jays' starting lineup for Thursday night's contest vs. the Mariners for the first time since he was removed from a game against the Rays on May 4 with tightness in his right hamstring.

Granderson was cleared to return earlier this week, but did not get into the starting lineup because the Mariners were using a pair of left-handed starters. With right-hander Mike Leake on the mound for Seattle in the series finale, Granderson was moved back into the leadoff spot.

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The sporadic playing time for Granderson is expected to continue, at least through the Blue Jays' upcoming three-game series against the Red Sox, with lefties Chris Sale and David Price expected to start for Boston. Anthony Alford or Dalton Pompey will remain candidates to platoon with Granderson in left.

"It didn't help him, because it really wasn't a big deal," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Granderson's extended absence. "We just wanted to prevent something worse. He's been sitting a while, that messes with your timing. No doubt. But it's going to continue that way, too."

The Blue Jays will have to make a roster move prior to Friday night's game against Boston when infielder Gio Urshela is expected to report to the team following Wednesday's trade with Cleveland. Urshela is expected to start at third whenever Josh Donaldson needs a day off from defensive duties, while Richard Urena would become the leading candidate to be optioned to the Minors.

That scenario would leave Alford -- one of Toronto's top prospects -- on the roster for a little while longer. Ideally the Blue Jays would send Alford to the Minors in the relatively near future to resume his development in an everyday role, but at least for now he'll fill in as a platoon option. That should change when Steve Pearce returns from the 10-day disabled list as he continues to rehab a minor oblique injury.

Alford has appeared in three games for the Blue Jays so far this season and he also appeared in 10 games for Triple-A Buffalo, where he was batting .154/.214/.179.

"Ideally for him, he's down and playing every day," Gibbons said. "But this is the No. 1 team in the organization so you have to worry about this one too, first and foremost. When guys get healthy, there will be some moves and I'm sure he will be one of them. We'll see, we have some more left-handers coming up this weekend, possibly three of them, someone has to hit in that platoon. It might be him. For his own well-being, he needs to be playing but he doesn't mind the big leagues either."

Injury update
Blue Jays outfielder Randal Grichuk has started to swing off a tee and take part in light baseball activities. Grichuk has been out since April 29 with a Grade 1 strain of the posterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He's scheduled to be re-evaluated within a week to determine the next steps of his rehab and when he will begin to start playing in Minor League games.

When Grichuk eventually does return, it likely will have to be in the form of a reserve outfielder. Grichuk opened the year as Toronto's starting right fielder but he lost the job to Teoscar Hernandez shortly before being placed on the DL. Grichuk had a .435 OPS in his disappointing start to the year.

Closer by committee
Gibbons is not prepared to anoint a new closer after Roberto Osuna was placed on administrative leave earlier this week, pending an investigation by Major League Baseball into his recent arrest on assault charges. Tyler Clippard picked up the save in Wednesday night's victory over Seattle but Ryan Tepera, John Axford or possibly even Seunghwan Oh could see some action in the ninth depending on matchups.

"The way I'm looking at it, I'll look where we are in the order," Gibbons said. "[Clippard] is a guy you like against left-handers too. You really like Tep against some right-handers. We have some options. ... With Osuna out, I think we have to adjust some things a little bit. We'll see. Every day may be different."

Jays Care stepping up
Jays Care announced on Thursday morning that it raised $240,885 during its 10th annual Sportsnet Jays Care Broadcast Auction. Dating back to 2009, the fundraiser has raised more than $1.8 million to support Jays Care programming for children and youth across the country.

The auction provided fans with an opportunity to bid on unique experiences involving some of their favorite players. This year's highlighted packages included a tour of Toronto with Aaron Sanchez, a private dining experience with J.A. Happ, and a hitting lesson with All-Star Justin Smoak.

"We are grateful to everyone at Sportsnet for their incredible support, not just tonight but throughout the year," said Robert Witchel, who is the executive director of Jays Care Foundation. "They have an intrinsic understanding of how sport unites and care deeply for the youth who take part in our programs."

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

Toronto Blue Jays, Curtis Granderson