ST. PETERSBURG -- At this point in the season, and with so much about next year still up in the air, the Blue Jays are happy to view September as sort of an extended audition -- a pre-Spring Training tryout, if you will.
“For me, September is big,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “Bigger than the other teams, because these kids are going to show what they can do for next year; we don’t have to wait for spring.”
“Any time you’re up here, it’s always a good time to get better and see how your stuff compares to the best players in baseball,” said Shafer, who was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo along with Stewart prior to Thursday’s series opener against the Rays. “There are definitely things I need to get better at, but I would like to think that I’ve shown that I can get outs up here and be valuable in the bullpen for next year.”
Shafer is 1-1 with a 3.19 ERA in 26 appearances with Toronto this season, and this marks his fifth stint with the big league club. Stewart, who allowed one run in 1 1/3 innings in Thursday's 6-4 loss to the Rays, is 3-0 in four outings since the Blue Jays plucked him off the waiver wire from the Dodgers on July 31.
“[An audition] is kind of how I treat every outing; I just try to put my best foot forward,” Stewart said. “I feel like I’ve done that for the most part with the Blue Jays, but it’s all about the next pitch, the next opportunity. I’m just looking forward to hopefully staying strong.”
Gurriel Jr. still out
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. missed a scheduled sim game Thursday because of soreness related to the left quad strain that landed him on the injured list Aug. 10. Montoyo said his left fielder would play another on Friday instead.
The 25-year-old was due to return as early as Saturday or Sunday during the current series against the Rays, but Montoyo said the date could now be pushed back to the Blue Jays’ next homestand, which begins Tuesday.