Blue Jays: Roster updates ahead of Thursday’s double-header

KANSAS CITY, MO -JUNE 23: Dwight Smith Jr.
KANSAS CITY, MO -JUNE 23: Dwight Smith Jr. /

The Blue Jays made a variety of roster moves ahead of Tuesday’s double-header with Cleveland, most notably welcoming Josh Donaldson back to the lineup.

If Mother Nature will allow the Blue Jays and Cleveland Indians to play baseball on Thursday, then we’ll see a few different faces out on the field. They aren’t new faces by any means, but they’re ones that the Blue Jays will be happy to have back in the fold.

John Gibbons will be thrilled to get the 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson back on his lineup card, with the slugger even confirming as much to reporters on Thursday morning. He’s been out since playing his last game on April 10th, and has been rehabbing from shoulder issues that should be behind him at this point.

The Blue Jays made a couple other moves as well, putting Justin Smoak on paternity leave so he can be with his wife who is about to give birth any day now. They also activated Tim Mayza as their 26th man for game one of their double-header against Cleveland, and are reporting planning on using Joe Biagini in the second game if weather allows them to get one or both games in today.

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In addition to those moves, the Blue Jays have also activated Dwight Smith Jr. to join their banged up outfield, and sent Gift Ngoepe back to Triple-A Buffalo. Steve Pearce experienced some tightness in his rib cage earlier this week and has remained on the bench, but it sounds like he’ll play today if weather permits. Smith will give the Blue Jays another body in the outfield for the short term, as they’re also without Randal Grichuk who is on the DL for a few weeks at least, and Kevin Pillar and Teoscar Hernandez are apparently hurting a little bit as well.

The weather is once again a factor in Cleveland, and the start of the double-header has already been delayed according to Shi Davidi. Obviously the Blue Jays, Cleveland Indians, and the MLB would like the games to happen today if at all possible, and I’m sure Mayza and Biagini are hoping their trip to Cleveland won’t be for nothing either.

The most significant roster announcement is the return of Donaldson, who should provide a boost to a lineup that has performed pretty well without their best hitter over 17 games. Gibbons mentioned that Donaldson will return to the two-hole in the lineup, and he’ll move Teoscar Hernandez to third, at least until Justin Smoak returns from pat leave. Yangervis Solarte and his team leading seven home runs will continue to serve as the clean-up hitter for the time being.

Even if it takes Donaldson a few games to get going, the Blue Jays are a stronger team with him in the lineup regardless of how well they’ve been hitting lately. It pushes Solarte back to a utility role, but with Devon Travis currently in Triple-A Buffalo, the switch-hitter will likely play second on a pretty regular basis, at least in the immediate future.

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