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Kendrys' pending return creates roster crunch

MLB.com @gregorMLB

NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays have a pending roster crunch that will have to be settled before Friday night's game against the Yankees.

Designated hitter Kendrys Morales is set to come off the disabled list on Friday after missing the previous 10 days because of a strained right hamstring. Someone on the 25-man roster will have to go, and that's where things get complicated.

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NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays have a pending roster crunch that will have to be settled before Friday night's game against the Yankees.

Designated hitter Kendrys Morales is set to come off the disabled list on Friday after missing the previous 10 days because of a strained right hamstring. Someone on the 25-man roster will have to go, and that's where things get complicated.

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Toronto must decide whether to option outfielder Teoscar Hernandez or left-handed reliever Tim Mayza to Triple-A Buffalo. The only other alternative would appear to be designating outfielder Randal Grichuk for assignment, because he is out of options and cannot be sent to the Minors.

The topic of potentially optioning Hernandez has created a bit of stir in Toronto. There was a time when he would have been the natural choice for a demotion, but the situation is no longer quite so clear. Hernandez has been one of the club's hottest hitters of late, and he entered play on Thursday with five extra-base hits in four games.

"Look at what he's doing. Maybe he ought to get regular playing time here," manager John Gibbons said. "I don't think he has anything more to prove in Triple-A, I wouldn't think. I can't answer that yet, how it's all going to shake out. You want to throw your best team out there, don't you?"

If the Blue Jays option Mayza to the Minors and return to a seven-man bullpen, it would only be a temporary fix. When Josh Donaldson returns from his right shoulder injury, Toronto will be forced to make another roster move, and at that point the club will have no choice but to option -- or part ways -- with one of its current position players.

One name that frequently gets mentioned by fans as a possible candidate for demotion is Gift Ngoepe, but it's unlikely he factors into the decision-making process. Sending Ngoepe to the Minors would force the Blue Jays to use Yangervis Solarte as the primary backup at shortstop. To date, Toronto has only wanted to use Solarte when a fly-ball pitcher, such as Marco Estrada, is on the mound. If Ngoepe goes down at some point, that could be a short-term fix to buy a little bit more time, or it would force the promotion of utility man Danny Espinosa.

If the Blue Jays opt for the most frequently discussed roster move -- optioning Mayza when Morales returns -- that would leave the team with five outfielders. Hernandez likely would receive everyday at-bats as a result, while Grichuk, who entered play on Friday with just five hits in 53 at-bats, would be relegated to the bench and might be hard-pressed to find playing time.

"I don't know," Gibbons said when asked how he expects the Blue Jays to handle the upcoming roster crunch. "It's going to be tough, whatever we do. It's not going to be ideal, either, but something has to be done."

Donaldson plays catch

Donaldson played catch at the Blue Jays' Minor League complex in Dunedin, Fla., on Thursday morning. He has been hitting for several days while also running the bases and going through a conditioning program. The three-time All Star is eligible to return from the 10-day DL on Saturday, but he has been ruled out until at least the start of next week. It's not exactly clear when he will return, but it won't be during the four-game series in New York.

"He threw today and felt great," Gibbons said. "I don't know what that means in terms of a timeline, but he felt great, which is the important thing. ... He won't be here Saturday. That won't happen."

In other injury news, shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is set to be evaluated by a foot specialist next week. The appointment is a followup to his previous surgical procedure, which involved removing bone spurs in each foot.

Alford and Pompey activated from DL

Outfielders Anthony Alford and Dalton Pompey were activated from the 10-day DL on Thursday morning and were then optioned to Triple-A Buffalo on Thursday afternoon. Alford and Pompey got hurt in Spring Training and recently completed a rehab assignment with Class A Dunedin. Alford was out with a strained right hamstring, and Pompey was sidelined with a sprained right wrist.

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, Teoscar Hernandez