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Blue Jays option Travis, call up righty Ramirez

Second baseman expected back once tweaks made at plate
MLB.com @gregorMLB

TORONTO -- Devon Travis' slow start to the 2018 season has resulted in a trip to the Minor Leagues.

Travis was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo prior to Sunday's series finale against the Rangers. Right-hander Carlos Ramirez was recalled from Buffalo to take Travis' spot on the 25-man roster.

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TORONTO -- Devon Travis' slow start to the 2018 season has resulted in a trip to the Minor Leagues.

Travis was optioned to Triple-A Buffalo prior to Sunday's series finale against the Rangers. Right-hander Carlos Ramirez was recalled from Buffalo to take Travis' spot on the 25-man roster.

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Infielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is expected to take over the everyday duties at second while Travis is in the Minors. Yangervis Solarte also should see a lot of time at second when Josh Donaldson returns from the disabled list at some point next week.

"We definitely didn't want to do it," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We're strapped in the 'pen right now. Those guys have been pitching a lot. The thinking behind it, [Travis] is strictly a second baseman.

"Gurriel, you can put him anywhere, so it gives us a little bit more versatility. We don't think it will be long term by any means and it's not going to hurt him to go down and get his bat going too. But it basically came down to, 'we have to protect the bullpen a little bit.'"

Travis' demotion comes just a couple of days after he had his first breakout day at the plate this season. The 27-year-old went 2-for-4 with a home run and a triple during Toronto's 5-4 loss to the Red Sox, but he followed up that performance by going 0-for-3 in Friday's series opener vs. Texas.

In 18 games this season, Travis is batting just .148 (9-for-61), but it's worth noting he got off to a similarly slow start last year before breaking out. Last season, Travis hit .130 in April, and then proceeded to hit .364/.373/.646 with 20 extra-base hits the following month.

The Blue Jays were playing Travis two out of every three days this season to protect against injuries following last year's knee surgery. He is expected to be on a similar schedule in Buffalo, but Gibbons said it's possible that Travis will see additional time at designated hitter to get him more at-bats.

"I think they'll go with the original plan, but they'll maybe DH him a little more," Gibbons said. "Maybe get another game or two. I think he needs that. I think he needs to string a few more games together, it would help him. But we're still going to be cautious with him."

Ramirez missed most of Spring Training because of a sore right elbow. He returned late in camp and has since made five appearances for Buffalo with four earned runs over six innings. Ramirez was added to provide a fresh arm to an overworked bullpen, but the Blue Jays opted for the mostly one inning man instead of going to a long reliever such as Luis Santos. Right-hander Joe Biagini was not an option to be called up because he started Saturday night's game in Buffalo.

The Blue Jays likely will stick with the eight-man bullpen until Donaldson returns from the disabled list. Donaldson, who has been out with right shoulder inflammation, began a rehab assignment with Class A Advanced Dunedin on Saturday night and went 0-for-3 while getting the start at DH. Donaldson seems likely to return for Toronto's upcoming series against the Rays from May 4-6.

When Donaldson returns, Ramirez will be a primary option to go back down to the Minors. Solarte then likely would become the starting second baseman until Travis returns, while Gurriel would slide into a super utility role. Ramirez made his Major League debut last September and posted a 2.70 ERA in 12 games. In the short term, Russell Martin also will serve as an emergency back-up at third base.

"Naturally he's disappointed," Gibbons said of Travis. "But there's not a more professional guy in that clubhouse. He understood the reasoning, but we don't think it will be long term."

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, Carlos Ramirez, Devon Travis