There are suddenly quite a few moving parts when it comes to the Blue Jays’ roster situation. As Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi reports, ongoing developments continue to create uncertainty even as camp draws to a close.
Blue Jays skipper Charlie Montoyo revealed today that neither Ryan Tepera nor John Axford will be an option to start the season (Twitter link via Davidi). Teperea will open on the injured list due to inflammation in his right elbow. Axford, meanwhile, is not yet on the 40-man roster and likely won’t be for quite some time, as he’s been diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow.
The Jays haven’t provided a timeline for either to return to health, though the loss of Tepera is particularly tough for Toronto. The 31-year-old righty has been a stable presence in the Jays’ bullpen since late in the 2016 season and has a 3.53 ERA with 9.4 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9 in 160 2/3 innings over the past three seasons. He’d been expected to serve as a setup man this season.
Those injuries would have opened the door wide for veteran Bud Norris, who surprisingly was forced to settle for a minor league deal with the Jays midway through camp. Unfortunately, as Davidi reports, Norris was a late scratch from his scheduled outing.
There’s no indication at this point that he’s dealing with anything more than a typical spring blip, but that doesn’t mean it’s not deflating to see another issue arise at this stage of camp. As Davidi puts it: “given the other injuries and the fact that Norris had an opt-out that expired at midnight Thursday, there was certainly a New Orleans Is Sinking kind of feel to the day.”
Of all the recent developments in Dunedin, the strangest was the latest concussion scare for outfielder Dalton Pompey. As Davidi explains, Pompey was somehow struck in the head by one or more bats that had been store in his locker. Given his worrying history of head injuries, Pompey was scratched and scheduled for further evaluation.
It’s anyone’s guess at this point how his roster situation will be resolved, with this health issue potentially representing a wild card. Pompey has profiled as a trade or DFA candidate, but could perhaps get one more re-start in the organization if he requires a stretch on the injured list.
These late-breaking developments have had quite an impact on the Blue Jays’ final roster plans. As Davidi explains, the club now may have some gaps to fill, particularly if it decides to give up on Rule 5 pick Elvis Luciano. That may also bring some opportunity, though, as the Jays could have some unexpected roster flexibility to work with as players shake loose from other organizations in advance of Opening Day.