The Blue Jays whittled down their roster on Tuesday morning, bringing the Opening Day roster picture a little more into focus. Toronto reassigned outfielder Jeremy Reed to Minor League camp and optioned left-handers Jesse Carlson and David Purcey to Triple-A Las Vegas.
The departure of Reed likely means the only decision left facing the Jays in terms of position players is picking between Jose Molina and Raul Chavez for the backup catching duties. Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston was quick to note, though, that there is still a chance that Toronto’s roster situation changes due to players being passed through waivers or a potential trade.
Barring any late-spring additions, though, the Blue Jays’ bench would consist of infielder John McDonald, first baseman/designated hitter Randy Ruiz, utility man Mike McCoy and Molina or Chavez. The only other issue that could change the makeup is if third baseman Edwin Encarnacion (left wrist) needs to open the year on the disabled list.
Carlson had battled a left knee injury throughout the spring and his one-inning showing on Monday marked his first Grapefruit League appearance since March 5. Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said Carlson simply had not pitched enough to win a job over the other relieving candidates in camp.
Carlson, who has options, will join Purcey in the Triple-A bullpen. Purcey entered camp as a starter, but the Jays limited him to throwing fastballs and sliders this spring and were thrilled with the results. Purcey hoped to fight for a starting role, but showed improved confidence and command as a reliever.
With Carlson and Purcey out of the mix, that leaves Kevin Gregg, Jason Frasor, Scott Downs, Casey Janssen, Shawn Camp, Jeremy Accardo, Merkin Valdez, Josh Roenicke, Dana Eveland and possibly Brian Tallet in the bullpen picture. Only Gregg, Frasor and Downs are locks, while Camp, Valdez, Eveland and Tallet are out of options.
Tallet has been a favorite to win a rotation job all spring, but Gaston said on Monday that the veteran lefty might still be considered as a reliever. Eveland has had a fantastic spring and will likely be on the staff in some capacity. The Jays have liked what they’ve seen from Valdez, meaning either Accardo or Roenicke may wind up in the Minors (if Tallet and Eveland are both in the rotation).
As far as the rotation goes, the only locks are Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero. Brandon Morrow, Marc Rzepczynski, Brett Cecil, Eveland and Tallet are in the running for the Nos. 3-5 slots. Rzepczynski and Cecil will start on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, so Anthopoulos said the starting five will likely be announced Thursday.