Vlad thankful for teammates' support in decision to skip Classic

March 5th, 2023

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- plans on working through his right knee discomfort slowly.

Guerrero said on Sunday that he feels better every day, and he is thankful that the injury wasn’t serious.

“Obviously it’s nothing serious,” Guerrero said, through an interpreter, ahead of the Blue Jays’ 16-4 win over the Phillies. “It’s nothing major. I have been feeling a lot better. [Getting healthy] is the priority for me right now.”

Guerrero’s injury happened on Friday, while he was running into second base on a hit. He got to second a little awkwardly, but he remained in the game for the rest of the inning before leaving to go to the trainer’s room. The Blue Jays announced the following day that his MRI showed no structural damage, though there was some minor inflammation in the area.

The 23-year-old first baseman was scheduled to leave Blue Jays camp and go to Miami for the start of the World Baseball Classic, but he withdrew from the event due to the knee inflammation. He said it was a tough decision, but he had the support of his family and teammates on the Dominican Republic team.

“When you have family and friends that support you with that decision, it makes it easier,” Guerrero said. “The guys have told me not to put my head down. Focus on the season. 'You’ve got a big season coming up. Don’t worry about it.'”

Nationals infielder Jeimer Candelario will replace Guerrero on the D.R.'s roster.

Manager John Schneider said that Guerrero’s rehab will be primarily rest and daily treatment, and that there is no need to push things right now.

“I think it’s really kind of like the definition of day-to-day,” Schneider said. “There’s no rush and the WBC gives us a little bit more time to slowly get back into it.”

Guerrero said he is going to listen to his body and let that determine when he gets back on the field.

“When my knee says it’s ready, then I’ll be ready,” Guerrero said.

Berríos shifts focus to Classic

is ready for the World Baseball Classic after a three-inning start against the Phillies on Sunday.

Berríos will drive to Fort Myers, Fla., to begin the Classic with the Puerto Rico team, which will hold its practice on Tuesday. 

“We’ve been in touch [since February] 17,” Berríos said of his Puerto Rico teammates. “We’ve been waiting for this moment. I think we have a good group and we are excited to start the tournament.”

Berríos gave up a two-run homer to Kyle Schwarber in the first inning, but he settled down after that, finishing up with five hits with two strikeouts over three frames.

“We have a good plan and we’re trying to execute it,” Berríos said of his latest start. “I think I really worked well with the fastball on both sides of the plate.”

The Blue Jays starter believes that the prospect of playing in the Classic has helped him be more efficient during the spring, and it should be beneficial during the regular season as well.

“I had to be more focused earlier this offseason to get ready for the WBC,” he said. “That made me get ready sooner. WBC is going to be fun, it’s going to be competitive. We have to go out there and compete pitch by pitch, inning by inning, I think that’s going to help motivate me for the rest of the season.”

Belt takes BP

took live batting practice Sunday morning, as he continues to inch closer to making his spring debut. The 34-year-old is recovering from knee surgery, which he underwent in September.

Schneider said that there still isn’t an exact timeline on when Belt will be available for games.

“I don’t know how soon it will be," Schneider said. “He’s going to play in a little sim game here today. He’s ramping up pretty quick, just watching him move around in the cage and on the bases.

“He’s getting pretty close, but no real timeline for him. We’re not going to rush him back.”

Belt batted .213/.326/.350 last season in 78 games with the Giants while dealing with recurring knee issues. He signed a one-year, $9.3 million deal with the Blue Jays in January.

Martinez shows off power

Orelvis Martinez, the Blue Jays’ No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline, hit his first home run of the spring on Sunday, a three-run shot off of Matt Seelinger in the seventh inning.

The 21-year-old infielder struggled with strikeouts in Double-A New Hampshire last year, though his power remained on display with 30 home runs in the season. Martinez is hitting .333 with a 1.429 OPS through four games this spring.