Donaldson takes BP for first time since calf strain

Donaldson takes BP for first time since calf strain

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson took batting practice Tuesday as he continues to recover from a right calf strain sustained on Feb. 17.

Donaldson, the 2015 American League MVP Award winner, was expected to miss two to three weeks with the injury, but manager John Gibbons said there's no real timetable for his return.

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Corey Long is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Alford determined to move on from rough '16

Blue Jays prospect dealt with adversity both on and off the field

Alford determined to move on from rough '16

BRADENTON, Fla. -- As a former Division I college football player at the University of Mississippi, Toronto Blue Jays outfield prospect Anthony Alford has taken his share of lumps.

There were plenty of lumps taken in 2016, both on and off the field. Alford came to camp ready this spring, determined to leave last season in the past.

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J. Scott Butherus is a contributor for MLB.com and covered the Blue Jays on Tuesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Harrell, Palacios lead Jays against Bucs

Harrell, Palacios lead Jays against Bucs

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Pirates starter Ivan Nova breezed through two perfect innings in his first spring start, but the Blue Jays pounded 16 hits against the Bucs bullpen. Joshua Palacios, Mike Ohlman, Jonathan Diaz and Matt Dean all homered as Toronto cruised to a 12-0 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday at LECOM Park.

Jays starter Lucas Harrell tossed two no-hit innings to begin the shutout by eight Toronto pitchers. Gregorio Petit and Dwight Smith added two RBIs apiece. 

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

J. Scott Butherus is a contributor for MLB.com and covered the Blue Jays on Tuesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

When in command, Harrell an asset for Toronto

When in command, Harrell an asset for Toronto

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Toronto Blue Jays roster hopeful Lucas Harrell was in control on Tuesday.

The veteran right-hander got the start in the Blue Jays' 12-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates at LECOM Park. He tossed two hitless innings, striking out three and walking one to pick up the victory.

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J. Scott Butherus is a contributor for MLB.com and covered the Blue Jays on Tuesday. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Inbox: Tellez a realistic Opening Day option?

Inbox: Tellez a realistic Opening Day option?

If he continues to perform, does Rowdy Tellez have a chance to make the team out of Spring Training? Or is Justin Smoak's job considered a lock?
-- Jesse S., Waterloo, Ontario

There's technically a chance, but I still don't think it's a good one. The Blue Jays' front office seems intent on making sure all of the club's prospects have enough time to develop, and something extreme would have to happen for those plans to change. Tellez -- the No. 5 prospect in Toronto's farm system, according to MLBPipeline.com -- has been one of the early bright spots, but he has never appeared above Double-A New Hampshire; all signs point to him opening the season in Triple-A Buffalo, regardless of how well he does this spring.

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Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stroman in midseason form in first spring start

Stroman in midseason form in first spring start

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman will pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic this spring. And he began working out shortly after last season ended. So, yeah, maybe that helps explain why he looked as though he was in midseason form in his first Grapefruit League outing.

Still, the way he dominated against the Pirates on Monday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium was both impressive and encouraging for Toronto.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Osuna now trying to manage expectations

High bar has been placed on Blue Jays' star closer

Osuna now trying to manage expectations

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The first step to becoming a star is having a breakout season. The second is to prove that wasn't a fluke by doing it again.

Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna, who made his first Grapefruit League appearance Monday against the Pirates at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, has now reached the third stage of his career. And since he's just 22 years old and already has more saves (56) than any reliever his age in history, the next big challenge just might be to manage expectations.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Stroman throws 2 perfect frames in debut

Stroman throws 2 perfect frames in debut

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The pitchers were definitely ahead of the hitters when the Pirates defeated the Blue Jays, 2-1, on Monday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium.

The Blue Jays didn't get their first hit until first baseman Justin Smoak led off the bottom of the fifth with a single up the middle against Nick Kingham, the third Bucs pitcher.

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Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook, read his blog and listen to his podcast.

Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gibbons not tipping hand about leadoff hitter

Tellez impressing Blue Jays; Donaldson throws in outfield

Gibbons not tipping hand about leadoff hitter

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Kevin Pillar led off the first dozen games the Blue Jays played last season ... and then only eight more times the rest of the year.

That's not surprising considering that he walked 24 times in 584 plate appearances and had a .303 on base percentage. Those aren't the kind of numbers associated with a prototypical top-of-the-order guy.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

In Blue Jays debut, Morales makes impact

Assuming Encarnacion's DH role, veteran hits RBI single, solo homer

In Blue Jays debut, Morales makes impact

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- When Kendrys Morales was introduced before the Blue Jays' Grapefruit League home opener Sunday at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, he got a nice round of applause.

That was nothing compared to the response he got when he homered off Phillies reliever Joaquin Benoit to lead off the third inning in just his second at-bat in a Blue Jays uniform.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Salty smacks 2-run HR in loss to Yanks

Salty smacks 2-run HR in loss to Yanks

TAMPA, Fla. -- Luis Severino looked sharp in his opening bid to secure a rotation spot and Starlin Castro homered as the Yankees defeated the Blue Jays, 7-2, in Grapefruit League action Sunday at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Severino worked two scoreless innings in his spring debut, permitting just a walk with a strikeout. Severino is looking to reclaim one of the Yankees' two rotation vacancies after he lost the job in the middle of last season by going 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA in 11 starts.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Biagini, Latos could be linked as long men

Both may also start for Blue Jays at some point in '17

Biagini, Latos could be linked as long men

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Long relief isn't glamorous. It is, however, a role that can have more impact than the average fan might realize.

"I think it's very important if something happens to [the starter] early," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "What's happened in the past when we really haven't had that guy is that, the next thing you know, you've got to use your whole bullpen just to get through a game. And that catches up with you the next day and the next day and the next.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Morales homers, plates pair in loss to Phils

Morales homers, plates pair in loss to Phils

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- New Blue Jays designated hitter Kendrys Morales had two hits, including a home run, and drove in two, but the Phillies rolled to a 10-3 victory in Toronto's Grapefruit League home opener at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium on Sunday.

The Phillies were able to take advantage of some uncertain Toronto defense to score three unearned runs in the second inning and never trailed after that.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

The kids are all right for Blue Jays in opener

The kids are all right for Blue Jays in opener

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Bartolo Colon minimized damage over the first two innings and Anthony Recker delivered a two-run single in a four-run fifth inning that propelled the Braves toward a 7-4 win over the Blue Jays in a mutual Grapefruit League season opener at ESPN's Wide World of Sports complex on Saturday afternoon.

"It was good to just get the guys out there and get some at-bats and run around and get the exertion from playing games," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "Everybody looked pretty good."

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Gurriel makes professional debut

Highly touted Cuban prospect goes 0-for-2 in Blue Jays' spring opener

Gurriel makes professional debut

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A lot has happened for Lourdes Gurriel since the last time he played in a baseball game. That was in 2015 for the Industriales de La Habana in the Cuban National Series.

Considered one of the top international prospects, Gurriel defected from Cuba and eventually signed a seven-year, $22 million contract with the Blue Jays. And Saturday, in the Grapefruit League opener for both teams at Champion Stadium, he made his North American debut in Toronto's 7-4 loss to the Braves.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Dickey in reflective mood as spring play opens

Veteran knuckleballer talks about his four seasons in Toronto before Blue Jays play Braves

Dickey in reflective mood as spring play opens

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- There were signs that R.A. Dickey's time with the Blue Jays was running out late last season: He made only three appearances in September, and he wasn't included on the postseason roster.

So it wasn't surprising when the 42-year-old knuckleballer wasn't pursued as a free agent by Toronto. He eventually signed with the Braves. And before Saturday's Grapefruit League opener at Champion Stadium between his last team and his current club, he reflected on the four years he spent in Toronto.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Donaldson shows off adorable puppy

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Donaldson shows off adorable puppy

A little less than a month ago, we posed a profoundly important question: Of all the good baseball dogs, which was the vvery best baseball dog? The people made their voices heard, and we thought we had arrived at an answer.

... until Saturday, that is, when we were introduced to Josh Donaldson's puppy.

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Gibbons using spring to evaluate youth

Urena, Alford, Pompey among Jays' prospects getting shot at camp

Gibbons using spring to evaluate youth

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- There will come times during the regular season, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons knows, when an injury or a slump or a trade or some other curve thrown by the baseball gods will force the organization to consider its Minor League options.

And that, believe it or not, is one of the things he'll be thinking about during the Grapefruit League season, which opens Saturday against the Braves at Champion Field.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pompey out to make a good impression on Blue Jays

Pompey out to make a good impression on Blue Jays

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Outfielder Dalton Pompey has the ability and athleticism. Everybody agrees with that. He's had opportunities, too. Two years ago he was the Blue Jays' Opening Day center fielder.

He's also a native of Mississauga, Ont., so both the front office and fans have a reason to root for him.

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bautista deal evidence of shifting market

Players Association director Clark says offseason valuation of veteran sluggers 'something we're keeping an eye on'

Bautista deal evidence of shifting market

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- A year ago, the Blue Jays couldn't be sure they'd have centerpiece slugger Jose Bautista back this season. After all, he was going to become a free agent, and numbers like $150 million were floating in the tropical breeze.

But the market for veteran home run hitters (including Edwin Encarnacion, Chris Carter and Mark Trumbo) turned out to be far less robust than anticipated. Bautista ended up returning to Toronto on a one-year, $18.5 million deal.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Sparkman could be Toronto's next Rule 5 success

Blue Jays hoping strong track record continues with right-hander

Sparkman could be Toronto's next Rule 5 success

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Around the Blue Jays, the lore of the Rule 5 Draft is handed down from generation to generation.

How George Bell was plucked from the Phillies in 1980 and went on to become the American League's Most Valuable Player in '87. How Willie Upshaw, taken from the Yankees' organization, became the first Blue Jay to drive in 100 runs and the first baseman for the franchise's first division winner in '85. How Kelly Gruber and Manny Lee formed the left side of the infield for Toronto's first World Series championship in '92.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Elder statesman Grilli: 'I've always bet on me'

Competitive fire still burns for 40-year-old reliever still eyeing World Series title

Elder statesman Grilli: 'I've always bet on me'

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Bartolo Colon, who will turn 44 in May, is the oldest active big leaguer at the moment. Ichiro is seven months younger. R.A. Dickey is 42, and Koji Uehara will get there on Opening Day.

Then there's Blue Jays reliever Jason Grilli. He turned 40 last November, which is impressive all by itself. Not only that, he made 46 relief appearances for the Blue Jays, allowed fewer hits (28) than innings pitched (42) and had a 3.64 earned run average. Against a backdrop of contemporaries like David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, David Ross, Joel Peralta and (apparently) A.J. Pierzynski retiring after last season, he's still going strong.

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Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Smoak could earn, run with starting job

Consistent playing time may help lead to a bounce-back season

Smoak could earn, run with starting job

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Who's on first? The Blue Jays are hoping Justin Smoak will grab hold of the starting job and not let go.

After sharing time for the past two seasons with Chris Colabello, Smoak now has the chance to own the job all to himself.

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Mike Nabors is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Upton brings rare feat into 13th season

Upton brings rare feat into 13th season

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Call them Baseball's Elite Eight. You have Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Mookie Betts, Wil Myers, Jose Altuve, Ian Desmond, Paul Goldschmidt and ... Melvin Upton Jr.?

Many would be surprised Upton would be in such elite company, but the Blue Jays outfielder joined the others last season as exclusive members of baseball's 20/20 club, hitting at least 20 home runs while stealing 20 bases.

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Mike Nabors is a contributor to MLB.com based in Dunedin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Blue Jays not concerned with strikeout rate

Blue Jays not concerned with strikeout rate

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The Blue Jays' offensive dropoff last season was startling. After ranking second in the Major Leagues in hitting in 2015, they fell to 23rd -- sliding from second in the American League to 12th.

A lot of factors contributed as the team's batting average, home run and RBI totals were all down, but one area stood out -- strikeouts.

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Mike Nabors is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Happ honing 'explosiveness' in workouts

Less running and more strength building are goals for left-hander, other Blue Jays starters

Happ honing 'explosiveness' in workouts

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- For decades, running has been a key part of pitcher's conditioning programs. And, for decades, some have questioned the practice.

During the 1960s, Johnny Sain was the pitching coach for five of the 10 American League pennant winners. He also once famously observed, "You don't run the ball up to the plate." After Steve Carlton won one of his Cy Young Awards with the Phillies, he created a minor kerfuffle by refusing to run the following spring.

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Martin: Salty 'somebody that I can rely on'

Backstop tandem will benefit Blue Jays, give both players adequate rest

Martin: Salty 'somebody that I can rely on'

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- In Russell Martin's second full season in the big leagues, 2008 with the Dodgers, he played in 155 games and was behind the plate in a remarkable 149 of them. "It used to be an ego thing, that I wanted to play every day," the Blue Jays catcher said before Tuesday's workout.

Now that he's 34, Martin still wants to play every day. He just realizes that it's not always the best idea for him or the team.

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Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.