ST. PETERSBURG -- Marco Estrada has been scratched from his final start of the season because of a sore back which has been bothering him for most of the season.Estrada originally was expected to start Sunday's season finale against the Rays, but that outing will instead go to right-hander Sam
ST. PETERSBURG -- Marco Estrada has been scratched from his final start of the season because of a sore back which has been bothering him for most of the season.
Estrada originally was expected to start Sunday's season finale against the Rays, but that outing will instead go to right-hander Sam Gaviglio. Estrada officially finishes his 2018 season with a 7-14 record and 5.64 ERA in 28 starts.
The 35-year-old Estrada will receive stem cell injections into his lower back at the end of the season. The belief is that the injections, combined with a prolonged period of rest, will help resolve the lingering soreness Estrada has felt for most of the year.
"The good thing is it's nothing major," Estrada said. "It's something the doctor feels it should be just fine. If we hit the right spot, this should be cleared away for a while. Pretty excited about it. He said, 'Keep doing your core program, all the stretching you can, and it should help.' I've stayed on it all year. Just sometimes it froze up."
Estrada is set to become a free agent at the end of the year and his time in Toronto might be coming to an end. The Blue Jays are embarking on a rebuild, and the belief is that these two sides will likely part ways at the end of the season as Toronto focuses more on developing its youth.
That means Estrada will hit free agency for the first time in his career. The native of Mexico was set to become a free agent at the end of the 2015 season, but Toronto made him a qualifying offer and he later accepted a two-year contract. Estrada avoided free agency again last season when he agreed to a one-year contract extension midway through the year.
"I mean, obviously, there's always a chance of me coming back," Estrada said, when asked about the future. "I'm not sure in which direction they're going, [or] if they want to go younger. It seems to be going that way. But I'm never right about these things. So I don't really know.
"But I definitely would love to hear from them again. I'm comfortable here. I do love this team. I love all the coaching staff and the trainers and everybody. I'm comfortable here. But I also know it's a business and I might not get an offer from them. But I do plan on playing, of course. Besides my back, my arm feels great -- the most important part, I guess. I'll be ready to rock 'n' roll next year."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.