The Blue Jays placed closer Ken Giles on the 10-day injured list with a right forearm strain Monday after he left Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay early.
The club is still awaiting MRI results, but it was clear Giles wasn’t right as he pitched the ninth inning against the Rays. Giles lost control of the zone and was throwing in the 92-93 mph range, which is well below his typical velocity, and he was visibly uncomfortable between pitches. He was removed in the middle of an at-bat before the Blue Jays saw their late lead evaporate, falling, 5-4, in extras.
“Any time there’s elbow soreness, there’s concern about it,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “He had it last year, so I’m not only concerned for the team, but for Ken Giles, because he’s one of my favourite players here.”
In corresponding moves, the Blue Jays optioned outfielder Billy McKinney to the taxi squad and added left-hander Ryan Borucki and right-hander Wilmer Font to their 30-man roster. Borucki could follow Trent Thornton in Monday’s opener against the Nationals, much like Anthony Kay followed Thomas Hatch in a piggyback effort against Tampa Bay, but Borucki’s role will be flexible going forward.
Font could be a legitimate piece of this bullpen, too, after posting a 3.66 ERA over 39 1/3 innings with the Blue Jays last season, including 53 strikeouts (12.1 K/9). He was often used in the opener role, but he brings the velocity that Montoyo has enjoyed at the back end with Jordan Romano, Anthony Bass, Rafael Dolis and Giles.
In Giles’ place, expect to see Bass get the first crack at save situations. Bass collected five saves in 2019 with the Mariners and has earned the trust of Montoyo.
In other roster news, Travis Shaw was placed on family medical leave and is away from the club.
Roark just fine with Buffalo
To get a sense on how the Blue Jays feel about playing their home games at Sahlen Field in Buffalo, N.Y., it really depends on who you ask. Veteran right-hander Tanner Roark has no complaints, though.
“I love it, actually,” Roark said. “Some guys don’t. Because of the way that I was brought up, born and raised, I didn’t have the greatest facilities or the greatest fields to play on. I’ve played in the big leagues for seven years, so I’ve gotten to be able to play in big league ballparks for seven years, so why not take a step back in time?”
Espinal reflects on debut
Infielder Santiago Espinal made the play of the game in Sunday’s series finale against the Rays when he entered the game as the club’s first automatic runner in the 10th. Breaking to steal third, Espinal was well late, but he arched his body around the tag. He was initially called out, but the replay -- which the rookie joked he forgot was an option in the Major Leagues -- overturned the call.
"This first week has probably been the best week of my life," Espinal said. "This is my dream and it came true. There’s been a lot of mixed emotions, and yesterday was a hell of a day. That steal, I was just trying to be aggressive and get to third base."
Espinal, who has supporters throughout the organization, also stressed the importance of players taking care of one another in and around the stadium so that they can avoid any positive COVID-19 tests. Along that line, he’s taking some added precautions of his own.
“Personally, I don’t even go out,” Espinal said. “I order my food to the room, I eat in the room, I do everything in the room. I don’t go out, because I don’t want to [test] positive. I want to be careful with what’s going on. That’s what I do. I stay in my room and do my job.”
• Randal Grichuk (back tightness) is feeling better, but he remains day to day after leaving Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay.
• Chase Anderson (right oblique strain) will throw a sim game on Wednesday.
• Wilmer Font has been used in multi-inning situations in the past, but he will initially be deployed for single innings since he hasn’t been built up yet.