The Blue Jays have placed Hyun Jin Ryu on the 10-day IL with a right glute strain, after the ace was forced to leave his last start on Sunday.
The move comes as Toronto activates star outfielder George Springer, who made his Blue Jays debut on Wednesday night against the Nationals at TD Ballpark. Injuries have been the story of April for Toronto, and while the club isn’t expecting Ryu to miss more than one start, this further challenges a rotation that has already been stretched very thin.
Ryu played catch over the past couple of days, attempting to work through his regular routine, but was still feeling a touch of discomfort in his right glute.
“It’s still there a little bit, but not enough that he’s going to miss a long time,” said manager Charlie Montoyo. “Our hope right now is that he’s going to miss a start and hopefully throw his next start, probably next week. That’s our hope.”
As the Blue Jays have seen with Springer and other injuries this season, though, timelines for strains and soft tissue injuries can be difficult to project. At the earliest, Ryu could return for the May 6 finale against the A’s in Oakland.
“He [got] an MRI and he’s fine,” Montoyo said. “It’s like what we thought it was with a mild strain, but because of the days off, he’s only going to miss one start and that’s how we see it right now. We talked to him and he said he was fine with that. He could pitch next week in Oakland.”
Ryu has been up to his old tricks this season, posting a 2.60 ERA through his first five starts with exceptional control, walking just three batters over 27 2/3 innings. Fellow lefty Steven Matz has stepped up as the club’s No. 2 starter in a big way through April, but Ryu is the unquestioned leader of the staff, and the Blue Jays need him pitching at this elite level down the stretch when he’s healthy.
Toronto’s rotation now lines up with Robbie Ray in Friday’s opener against Atlanta in Dunedin, Fla., but from there it’s more of the same April mix-and-match, as the Blue Jays piece this together. Saturday lines up as a bullpen day while Ross Stripling, who’s currently on the IL with a right forearm flexor strain, could make the Sunday start if he’s able to return by then.
Tellez optioned with Springer needing DH reps
First baseman Rowdy Tellez was optioned in a corresponding move Wednesday, and will head to the club’s alternate site in Dunedin to work on getting his timing back.
Tellez has been hitting the ball with more authority of late, but has opened the season with a .183 average and .489 OPS, with just one home run over 63 plate appearances. Tellez’s lack of positional flexibility as a first baseman and DH means he needs to produce offensively to stay in the lineup, but the need to get Springer DH reps -- and potentially Teoscar Hernández too, soon -- means there wasn’t much playing time left for Tellez over the upcoming stretch of games.
“That was going to take at-bats away from Rowdy, so it was perfect timing for Rowdy to go down there, get his timing down and get at-bats every day,” Montoyo said. “Whenever Springer starts playing in the outfield more often, that DH spot is open again and Rowdy can come back.”
The Blue Jays also added left-hander Travis Bergen to their bullpen, who was with the club briefly earlier in April but did not make an appearance before being optioned back down.