Gurriel sent to Triple-A Buffalo for glove work

April 15th, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- Lourdes Gurriel Jr. will be given all the time he needs to get over a case of the yips, but the prolonged throwing issues mean his days as a permanent infielder might be over.

Toronto optioned Gurriel to Triple-A Buffalo on Monday afternoon after he made throwing errors in back-to-back games vs. Tampa Bay. Infielder Eric Sogard took his spot on the 25-man roster, while lefty Ryan Borucki was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Gurriel, 25, recently admitted to the Blue Jays' coaching staff that his issues at second had been wearing on him. He wasn't in a good spot mentally, at the plate or in the field, and as a result Toronto intends to give him a bit of a break this week.

"That's tough what he went through," Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said. "We're here for him. That's what I told him. 'Whenever you're ready, you're going to go down there and DH and stuff. Take your ground balls, whenever you say you're ready to play in the infield, we'll play you again. But it's all about you. Take your time. No rush.' That's what I said to him. He was fine when he left my room."

The Blue Jays have been attempting to turn Gurriel into a full-time middle infielder for the past year. In 2018, Gurriel spent most of his time at shortstop, and this season he transitioned to second base after the club signed veteran shortstop and incumbent second baseman went down with an injury.

Gurriel has never really looked comfortable at the position. He experienced difficulty with his footwork while turning double plays, and his throws have become increasingly erratic. The breaking point finally came over the weekend, when Gurriel had to be pulled midway through a game after he could not complete even a short toss to first.

Toronto is now expected to play Gurriel all over the field with Buffalo. He should eventually get some starts in the corner outfield spots and possibly third base, and there still might be a time when he returns to the middle infield. The Blue Jays just don't intend to start making any of those changes until Gurriel deems himself ready.

"Yeah, but it's not all about what we want to do," Montoyo said when asked if the Jays would play Gurriel all over the place. "It's how he feels. So whenever he feels good to go all of that, we'll do that. Wherever he feels comfortable. He could DH. He could play in the outfield again. He could be back at second base or shortstop, if he feels good about his throwing."

Borucki will not be eligible to return until at least May 27. He has yet to pitch this season because of inflammation in his left elbow. The 25-year-old recently received a cortisone shot into the affected area, and once deemed healthy, he will eventually begin the slow process of getting stretched out.

Tepera nears return
Right-hander rejoined the Blue Jays on Monday afternoon, but the veteran reliever has yet to be activated from the 10-day injured list. Tepera has not pitched this season because of right elbow soreness, but he recently completed a brief rehab assignment in the Minors and should return any day.

Tepera allowed two runs on two hits and a walk for Buffalo on Sunday afternoon. Monday was treated as a recovery day, and it's possible that Tepera will be activated prior to Tuesday's game vs. Minnesota. Not bad for a guy who a month ago looked like he was headed for season-ending Tommy John surgery.

"He was fine," Montoyo said. "He's healthy. That's the main deal with somebody like that. You never go by his outing, if he gave up two runs or whatever. It's about being healthy, and if he feels good, that's good for us."

In honor of No. 42
Montoyo started his daily media availability at 4:42 p.m. ET on Monday in honor of Jackie Robinson Day. Every team in baseball has retired No. 42 in remembrance of the man who broke baseball's color barrier on April 15, 1947.

Toronto's manager wore a Jackie Robinson Day T-Shirt while speaking with the media, and he said that Robinson was the one player he wished he'd had the opportunity to meet. Major League Baseball has been celebrating Jackie Robinson Day since 2004, and all players wear No. 42 in his memory.

"I think it's all about him, about what he went through," Montoyo said. "I cannot imagine it. I'm glad we have Jackie Robinson Day. That's why we did it at [4:42], in honor of Jackie."