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Travis excited to pass first spring game test

Blue Jays 2B sees first action since June 4; Happ solid in debut
MLB.com @gregorMLB

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- First game. First real test for Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis.

Travis made his spring debut in Toronto's 6-3 loss to the Tigers on Sunday afternoon, and it didn't take very long for the ball to find him. In the fifth, Travis was required to range deep into the hole at second and make an off-balance throw to record the out. He pulled it off flawlessly.

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- First game. First real test for Blue Jays second baseman Devon Travis.

Travis made his spring debut in Toronto's 6-3 loss to the Tigers on Sunday afternoon, and it didn't take very long for the ball to find him. In the fifth, Travis was required to range deep into the hole at second and make an off-balance throw to record the out. He pulled it off flawlessly.

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This was the type of play all big league infielders are required to make, but it held a bit more significance here. It was Travis' first game since June 4, and while his rehab from knee surgery involved a lot of ground balls, those simulated scenarios can only take you so far. Travis needed the real thing, and on Sunday, he finally got it.

Video: DET@TOR: Blue Jays' booth on Travis' 2018 outlook

"That first ground ball is like that first hit," Travis said. "You just want to get it out of the way. Take a deep breath. It was nice to get that out. That was, for sure, a test. I've done it in [ground-ball practice], but it's a little bit different when the game starts. It was a nice little test and I'm glad I'm past it."

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Travis also had some early success at the plate. He grounded out to second on an 0-1 pitch in the first, then drew a walk in the third and added an opposite-field single in the fifth. Not bad for the first day of work.

"It's so awesome, so awesome," Travis said of making his debut early in the spring, instead of needing to continue rehab work away from the field. "To be able to climb my way up the ladder now. Working towards nine innings. To play five [innings] the first day, three at-bats, that was a nice little test for me. I'm excited. I'm excited to have a normal Spring Training as a baseball player."

Happ starts it off

Blue Jays lefty J.A. Happ also made his spring debut by tossing a scoreless first inning. Happ got the first batter he faced to fly out, but then allowed a double to Niko Goodrum. The veteran starter quickly bounced back by striking out the next two batters he faced, focusing on the elevated fastball that he is known for.

Video: DET@TOR: Happ strikes out Jones in the 1st

"Get through it healthy, throw strikes, and I got both of those done," Happ said. "But really it was just fun to get out there again and see some of those guys behind me again. It was fun to see Devon Travis back out there."

Worth mentioning

• Blue Jays manager John Gibbons has been away from his team for the past two days because of personal reasons. Bench coach DeMarlo Hale has been filling in during his absence, just like he did at the tail end of the 2017 season for similar reasons.

• Hale said that injured shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is "progressing and feeling better," but the Blue Jays remain without a timetable for his return. Tulowitzki has been dealing with a bone spur in his right foot and has been taking some ground balls, but has yet to begin running.

Up next

Left-handed prospect Ryan Borucki will make his spring debut when the Blue Jays visit the Rays on Monday at 1:05 p.m. ET in Port Charlotte, Fla. The game will be broadcast via an exclusive webcast on bluejays.com. Borucki is not competing for a spot on the 25-man roster and will open the season at Triple-A Buffalo. Other notable names making the long drive include: Anthony Alford, Teoscar Hernandez, Danny Jansen, Lourdes Gurriel and Luke Maile. Veteran right-hander Marco Estrada will start Tuesday.

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, J.A. Happ, Devon Travis