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Blue Jays relieved after Shafer's elbow scare

Thornton to be examined this week, Richard will start throwing program
@baseballexis
July 23, 2019

TORONTO -- It wasn’t a pretty sight for the Blue Jays on Monday night, when reliever Justin Shafer appeared to be in visible pain after issuing a four-pitch free pass, and subsequently took himself out of the game with right elbow discomfort. But the outlook for the 26-year-old right-hander appeared

TORONTO -- It wasn’t a pretty sight for the Blue Jays on Monday night, when reliever Justin Shafer appeared to be in visible pain after issuing a four-pitch free pass, and subsequently took himself out of the game with right elbow discomfort.

But the outlook for the 26-year-old right-hander appeared much brighter ahead of Tuesday’s game against the Indians, when Shafer felt confident enough in his throwing arm to head to the field and throw the ball around.

“I know he feels good enough to play catch,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said. “I thought he was going to go for sure on the [injured list] when that happened. … He went through all the tests and he felt a pinch, so he got nervous about it. And when he looked at the scoreboard, he wasn’t throwing as hard and figured something was going on.

“I’m surprised he’s playing catch to see how he feels.”

The surprise was a pleasant one for all involved who hope Shafer might return to action by Wednesday’s series finale against Cleveland. After allowing two runs and two walks while recording two outs before sustaining the injury on Monday, Shafer will be unavailable in the second game of the three-game set. He owns a 2.81 ERA over 12 appearances and 16 innings this season in the Majors, with 16 strikeouts.

Injury roundup

Trent Thornton will be re-evaluated this week to return to throwing, after the 25-year-old right-hander landed on the injured list with elbow inflammation in his throwing arm on Sunday. Clayton Richard -- out with a left lat strain since July 14 -- was re-evaluated on Monday in Toronto and continues strengthening. The 35-year-old southpaw will begin a throwing program this week.

Clay Buchholz threw his first bullpen session last week after departing on May 9 with right shoulder inflammation. The 34-year-old righty has two more bullpen sessions scheduled this week. Matt Shoemaker checked in with the medical staff when the Blue Jays were in Detroit over the weekend, and he is progressing well with his rehab and strengthening on his way back from a torn ACL in his left knee. The right-hander, 32, will follow up in Toronto in several weeks for his next check-in.

Among the relief corps, 19-year-old right-hander Elvis Luciano continues to progress his strengthening and plyometric program with no issues after sustaining a right elbow sprain on June 13, and he will be re-evaluated to begin throwing in two weeks. Ryan Tepera is in a throwing program at the Minor League complex in Florida after undergoing surgery on his right elbow, and he will begin long toss next week.

Canadian reliever John Axford has progressed to throwing off a mound with no issues, and he will be evaluated to begin rehab games at the end of this week. Fellow Canuck and bullpen arm Jordan Romano sustained an oblique injury at the beginning of July with Triple-A Buffalo, and he is on a throwing program in Florida.

Second baseman Devon Travis is continuing to work through strengthening progression in rehab after undergoing surgery on his left knee in March. The 28-year-old is not participating in any baseball activities yet. Outfielder Anthony Alford, Toronto’s No. 8 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, sustained an oblique injury at the end of June with the Bisons, and he is on a hitting progression program in Florida.

Jordan Groshans, the Blue Jays’ No. 3 prospect, is in Florida going through a rehab progression for a stress injury sustained to his left foot. The 19-year-old infielder will be re-evaluated this week to determine the next steps in his rehab.

Julian Merryweather, who was acquired by Toronto in exchange for Josh Donaldson last year, worked his way back to the mound earlier this season from Tommy John surgery. He has since experienced fatigue as he built up innings in rehab games. The 27-year-old right-hander was backed off of pitching for a scheduled recovery period. He is in Florida, where he will be re-evaluated to return to throwing at the end of this week.

Alexis Brudnicki is a reporter/editor for MLB.com based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @baseballexis.