The Toronto Blue Jays will play their home opener Thursday night against the Los Angeles Angels in Dunedin, Fla., but they will still be without George Springer.
The outfielder, Toronto’s pricey acquisition as a free-agent — six years, $150 million — was eligible to leave the injured list on Thursday after being sidelined for the first six games of the season with a strained left oblique muscle.
Springer, however, felt tightness in his right quadriceps when running the bases on Tuesday during his rehabilitation and has had an MRI.
“He did the live batting practice, and everything was fine,” Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo said on Wednesday before Toronto’s 2-1 loss to the Texas Rangers. “Then it was time for him to run the bases, and when he was running the bases, he felt a tightness in the quad and stopped. As the day went on, he felt like, ‘OK, this is not just a cramp,’ and that’s when we got the MRI.”
Speaking to the media on Tuesday, Springer said he felt he had taken a “great step” toward his return and was eager to play on Thursday.
“It’s tough,” Montoyo said. “You’ve got to be careful, just like with the oblique. If you make it worse, then you’re really out for a long time.”
The Blue Jays, 3-3 after dropping the final two games of a three-game set against the Rangers, will start right-hander Ross Stripling (0-1, 8.10) Thursday in the opener of a four-game series. The Angels, who had Wednesday off, will start right-hander Griffin Canning (season debut).
Stripling allowed three runs in 3 1/3 innings April 3 in a 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees. He is 1-2 with a 4.67 ERA in five career games (three starts) against the Angels.
Canning did not factor in the decision in his only start against the Blue Jays on April 30, 2019, at Angel Stadium (4 1/3 innings, three earned runs, one walk, and six strikeouts).
The Angels opened their season with a 4-2 homestand — winning three of four against the Chicago White Sox and splitting two with the Houston Astros.
Angels manager Joe Maddon is familiar with Dunedin from spring-training visits as manager of the Tampa Bay Rays. The ballpark has been expanded, and the facilities have improved since, but Maddon is concerned about the wind.
“The wind was constantly blowing out at that ballpark, and the ball really flew,” Maddon said. “It wasn’t one of my favorite venues. It was kind of nondescript, just a windy spring-training ballpark.”
Maddon is pleased with the way his relievers are developing. The bullpen was a problem last season.
“I love the makeup of this one,” Maddon said after acknowledging the volatility of bullpens from year to year. “I love the makeup, the character, the slow heartbeat of this one. This one’s very interesting.”
He is still sorting out the roles.
Steve Cishek and left-hander Tony Watson were signed just before Opening Day. Cishek and Mike Mayers are the only relievers he has managed previously.
So far, Raisel Iglesias is the closer, although he also has been used in non-save situations this season. Mayers has been the eighth-inning option or a closer when Iglesias is unavailable. Chris Rodriguez appears set for early multi-inning stints. The other roles are to be determined.
–Field Level Media