Romano underwent an MRI Saturday morning after some initial testing Friday night, and until those scan results come back, the right-hander is being sidelined with what the club is calling a "right middle finger strain."
“When I went to the mound, his finger felt numb,” manager Charlie Montoyo said Saturday. “He didn’t have any feel in it, and of course that’s why he couldn’t grip the ball to throw his pitches. That’s why we took him out. After a series of tests, we decided he needed to get an MRI.”
Romano owns a 1.23 ERA with 21 strikeouts over 14 2/3 innings this season, nearly unhittable at times. His sidelining is a major loss for a bullpen that’s been asked to carry a heavy load in 2020, so Romano’s responsibilities will now trickle down.
The return of closer Ken Giles from a right forearm strain is now even more important than before, and he’s making progress. Giles is scheduled to face live hitters for the first time on Tuesday, and while there’s still time needed to ramp back up, everything seems to be moving in the right direction.
“I know one thing. When he gets back, he wants to just be back,” Montoyo said. “He doesn’t want to throw one inning and take three days off. He just wants to be normal. We’ll see how he feels after live BP and go from there.”
In the meantime, Anthony Bass will be the club’s top option at closer while Rafael Dolis, A.J. Cole and Julian Merryweather will step into more high-leverage roles. The multi-inning relief roles are still safe in the hands of Anthony Kay, Thomas Hatch, Ryan Borucki and others, including right-hander Sean Reid-Foley, who was activated in a corresponding move for Romano on Saturday. Reid-Foley’s bullpen potential has long been tantalizing, and he sat comfortably in the mid-90s in his lone inning of work earlier this season.
Toronto’s focus approaching the Trade Deadline on Monday is expected to center more around starting pitching, but they’ll be checking in on relievers, too, given general manager Ross Atkins’ wide-ranging goal of “run prevention.”
Vogelbach goes way back with Bichettes
Daniel Vogelbach had some familiar faces in the clubhouse when he arrived in Buffalo. Growing up, the newly acquired Blue Jay played summer ball with Dante Bichette Jr., Bo’s brother, and knew their father, Dante Bichette, very well. Even after being drafted by the Cubs in 2011, Vogelbach would hit with the Bichettes in the offseason.
The advice from Dante Bichette, a four-time All-Star, from his younger years has stuck with Vogelbach, particularly when it comes to approach. Vogelbach wants to be a hitter first, then hit for power. Vogelbach recognizes when he struggles that it happens as he’s tries to be an all-power slugger.
“The biggest thing with Dante -- and this is why he meshes with me well -- is to be a hitter,” Vogelbach said. “Look at Bo. Bo is a hitter. With two strikes, he goes into battle mode. That’s something that I lost at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, just being that guy.”
Vogelbach also knows hitting coach Guillermo Martinez well. When Vogelbach was in Double-A with the Tennessee Smokies, “G” was their hitting coach, so Toronto has been a comfortable landing spot for the slugger.
• Bo Bichette (right knee sprain) hit off a tee on Saturday, Montoyo said, and played catch.
• Nate Pearson (right elbow tightness) threw at 90 feet on Saturday, a progression from 60 feet on Friday.
• Matt Shoemaker (right shoulder inflammation) will start his “throwing progression” on Sunday, if all goes as planned. The most recent update on Shoemaker described him as “week to week,” so there should be some added clarity as he begins to work through the early stages.