Jays downplay pitchers' injuries

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:29 PM ET

DUNEDIN, Fla. — The problem with signing veteran players is that you inherit old injuries.

That fact was hammered home at the Blue Jays camp on Tuesday as before their game against the Philadelphia Phillies — sorry, no Roy Halladay sightings — the Jays had to put the brakes on the activities of two veteran off-season acquisitions in right-handers Frank Francisco and Octavio Dotel.

Francisco, considered the leading candidate to be the closer, has an issue with his right shoulder while Dotel, a specialist against right-handed hitters, has an issue with his left hamstring.

The Blue Jays on Tuesday were downplaying both injuries, but initially Francisco was supposed to rest just a day and be ready for action against the Phillies. Now there’s no real timetable and the same goes for Dotel.

The two were acquired in the off-season to be key pieces in a rebuilt bullpen but that plan may need overhauling.

The good news is that the Jays are overstocked with relievers and if Francisco isn’t ready to start the season, then manager John Farrell can turn to either Jon Rauch or Jason Frasor as his closer. If Dotel is unable to be ready by April 1, it opens the door for Casey Janssen, who likely would have started the season at triple-A because he still has options.

So it’s not as if even under a worse-case scenario, the Jays would be crippled.

“While warming up in his last scheduled outing he felt some tightness in his right pec,” Farrell said of Francisco. “He came in yesterday, threw long toss and another 15 pitches off the mound. He improved as far as the feeling goes but we’re going to work him through some long toss and continue on the flat ground.

“We feel like if we can get him three or four games (additional) before we leave camp he’ll be fine. He’s not overly concerned or overly alarmed. He feels this is a spring training aches and pains type thing that he’s going through. The red flag is not up per se with Frankie.”

Francisco has been on a slow route to being ready opening day and has appeared in just two games. Taken with what has developed, it doesn’t add up to a positive scenario regardless of Farrell’s position.

The hamstring may be more problematic for Dotel. They are a nagging type of injury and unless it receives a long rest, no matter how trivial, it always seems to pop up again in the future.

Is there a chance that Dotel may not be ready by April 1?

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” Farrell said. But until we get him back on the mound in a bullpen session before getting him in a game, that’s where we’ll assess it at that time and see how many opportunities are left to get back in a game before we break.

“Like Francisco and with a number of one-inning relievers, if we can have four or five outings we feel like that’s sufficient, but we can’t have too many of those types or we’d have to be too protective. As we get through the remaining two weeks we’ll get a better read on it.”

Dotel, meanwhile, doesn’t believe it’s a big deal but at the same type isn’t about to rush it. If he doesn’t get his innings in he said he may need some extended spring work.

“I like to get my innings in spring training so I can be ready for the season,” Dotel said. “At this point, we have to wait and see what’s best for my situation right now. I’m just going to give it time and try to see if I can get my hamstring the way it’s supposed to and go from there.

“I need 10 games pretty much, 10 innings. We’re looking to get closest to that point. If not (if he’s out for say 10 days) I probably have to stay a little longer here (at extended spring training). I hope not. But who knows? My hamstring knows.”

And the hammy isn’t talking.


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