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Montoyo says Jays have options on the mound

Toronto Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo says he is not going to rush pitcher Chase Anderson back to action.

The Blue Jays announced Sunday that Anderson was day-to-day with an oblique injury he suffered while warming up prior to a recent batting practice.

Anderson was projected to be on Toronto’s opening five-man rotation, but Montoyo said Wednesday that now seems unlikely.

“You know how that goes with side stuff. You’ve got to be careful not rushing somebody,” Montoyo said. “So right now at this moment I don’t see him starting the season, but he’s progressing very well.

The Blue Jays acquired Anderson in a Nov. 4 trade with Milwaukee in one of several off-season moves to shore up their pitching. Anderson went 8-4 with a 4.21 earned-run average in 32 appearances last season, including 27 starts. He had 124 strikeouts and allowed 50 walks.

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It remains to be seen who will fill in to join ace Hyun-Jin Ryu in the Blue Jays starting rotation, with Matt Shoemaker, Tanner Roark and Trent Thornton considered the front-runners for three of the spots when the 60-game season begins July 24 at Tampa Bay.

Pitching coach Pete Walker has said top prospect Nate Pearson is in a battle to break camp in the rotation, but Montoyo said other options are in play.

“That’s the good thing about building so many guys is we’ve got options. We’ve still got a week to decide that. They’ve all have a chance. They’re all competing and they’re going to have a couple more starts before we start the season.

“Openers are always on the table. But we’re building enough guys that I’m not worried about that right now.”

While there is some fluidity in the Jays potential starting rotation, the closer role is locked down by the reliable Ken Giles. The six-foot-three right-hander is coming off a solid 2019 season that saw him put up 23 saves in 24 opportunities while carrying a 1.34 earned-run average through 53 innings of work.

“It’s great. As a manager having a closer, that when you have the lead you have a pretty good chance to win, that makes any manager’s life better,” Montoyo said. “I’m really happy to have Giles at the end of the games.

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Montoyo said unlike last season, the Jays have the arms to take on closing duties when Giles is not available. He listed recent signings Anthony Bass and Rafael Dolis, as well as Canadian Jordan Romano, as candidates for spot closing duty.

Montoyo also said 21-year-old shortstop Austin Martin is adjusting well to life in a major-league training camp, but preached patience with the fifth-overall pick in the 2020 Major League Baseball draft.

“He hasn’t done anything since the college baseball season ended, so we’re not going to rush this kid,” Montoyo said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 15, 2020.