The Blue Jays reinstated reliever Rafael Dolis from the 10-day injured list prior to Tuesday's opener against the Red Sox at TD Ballpark in Dunedin, Fla., returning a key piece to the back end of their bullpen.
They need Dolis, too. With Kirby Yates, Julian Merryweather, David Phelps and Ryan Borucki on the IL and Jordan Romano carrying a heavy load recently, the back end of this bullpen is running on fumes. Dolis can be the answer in a variety of roles now as he returns from a minor right calf injury.
"I'll use him like I have in the past, whether that's high leverage or wherever we need him," said manager Charlie Montoyo. "He can close, too, and he's done it. He'll be anywhere from the sixth inning to the ninth inning, but he's healthy and he's good to go."
Dolis owns a 4.26 ERA over 15 appearances this season, but the right-hander was on a roll prior to his injury. Typically one of the slowest pitchers in baseball when he's on the mound, Dolis was improving his pace a bit and establishing better counts early, which all sets up his slider and splitter as putaway pitches.
Dolis takes the roster spot of No. 30 prospect Nick Allgeyer, who was promoted over the weekend to give the Blue Jays some insurance and length but did not get into a game.
The Blue Jays will need more injured relievers to follow Dolis' path back from the IL, and they should have some clarity on right-hander Anthony Castro on Wednesday after his scheduled bullpen session. The right-hander opened the season with 7 1/3 scoreless innings prior to hitting the IL with a forearm injury, but he could be in line for some high-leverage spots if he is able to return soon.
The latest on Springer
George Springer has been taking batting practice with the Blue Jays, but his running will be what determines his timeline as he returns from a right quad strain for the second time this season. As of Tuesday, Springer is still "jogging," according to Montoyo.
From here, Springer will need to build up to straight-line sprinting. Then, the final step is running the bases, which will test his quad with changes of direction at high speeds. The Blue Jays will be very patient with his progress, of course, given how brief his return was prior to reaggravating this injury last time.
Battling the elements
One of the biggest differences between playing at Rogers Centre and playing in Buffalo, N.Y., or Dunedin for the Blue Jays is the architecture and the coverage it provides.
In Toronto, the high walls of Rogers Centre block out the wind. In Dunedin, that's not happening. Playing the outfield can be an adventure at TD Ballpark, especially when the wind is whipping in off the water, and it's led to some challenges for both the Blue Jays and visiting teams.
"The wind is everywhere," Montoyo said. "Sometimes you lose the ball, but that's one good thing about our team, we don't make any excuses. This is where we're playing and we're going to do our best wherever we are. That's what this team has done."
Left fielders have the greatest challenge in Dunedin, especially in the early innings of night games when the setting sun is shining directly in their eyes. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. has been forced to deal with this on a nightly basis, and while sunglasses seem like the simple solution, they haven't worked for him.
"For some reason, with the glasses, I cannot see the ball off the bat," Gurriel said. "That's why I don't wear them."