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Blue Jays plan to activate Roberto Osuna before home opener

Ben Nicholson-Smith | posted Tuesday, Apr 11th, 2017

Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Roberto Osuna (54) and catcher Russell Martin (55) celebrate their victory over the Cleveland Indians in game four American League Championship Series baseball action in Toronto on Tuesday, October 18, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

Osuna threw a 24-pitch simulated game at Tropicana Field Saturday, an important step on his path back to the active roster. Barring an unexpected development, the 22-year-old closer will be available to make his season debut out of the bullpen against the visiting Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday.

“Unless something changes overnight he’ll be activated,” Gibbons said.

Before Tuesday’s game the Blue Jays will have to make a corresponding move, likely optioning a relief pitcher to triple-A. On paper, Casey Lawrence looks like the leading candidate to return to Buffalo after pitching for the Blue Jays both Saturday and Sunday.

Osuna dealt with back and neck stiffness late in spring, but had been expected to break camp with the team regardless. Instead, the club placed him on the disabled list with a cervical spasm, back-dating the DL stint to ensure he’d miss just six games.

Osuna saved 36 games in 2016, posting a 2.68 ERA with 82 strikeouts in 74 innings as Toronto’s closer.

The Blue Jays’ bullpen will see its share of turnover this year, especially considering that the group includes an assortment of relievers with options. Dominic Leone, Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup could all theoretically be sent to triple-A without clearing waivers, though Tepera has pitched four scoreless innings and Loup, the lone lefty in the bullpen with J.P. Howell sidelined, will also be needed on the 25-man roster.

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TREATMENT FOR DONALDSON

Josh Donaldson continues getting treatment on the right calf that tightened up in Sunday’s series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays, but the Blue Jays won’t know until Tuesday whether they can pencil the third baseman into their starting lineup right away.

“He’s feeling all right,” Gibbons said. “We won’t know until tomorrow (but) he’s feeling better.”

Donaldson left Sunday’s game after his calf tightened up running out a ground ball, but afterwards he expressed optimism that he’d be ready to play by Tuesday. Donaldson initially strained his calf early in spring training, prompting the Blue Jays to ease him into Grapefruit League action gradually in the hopes that he’d make a complete recovery.

BACK HOME

After a 1-5 road trip, the Blue Jays are absolutely glad to be back in Toronto for their first homestand of the season.

“I think that’s an understatement,” Gibbons said. “It wasn’t a good trip by any means.”

“I think we were all looking forward to getting back here at the home field,” he added. “The crowds we get are really into it. It’s really different than a lot of places, so I think that’ll do wonders.”

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