Blue Jays have plenty on their plate at the break

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The Blue Jays find themselves in the midst of MLB’s all-star break, a time best served to mend some of the team’s broken pieces and try to figure out the ideal rotation and lineup moving forward.


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A post-season appearance was achieved last year, but it came in a shortened season when the playoff pool was expanded, and ended quite abruptly when Tampa took two in a row in a best-of-three meeting.

The Jays added big-ticket free agent George Springer in the off-season, but the former World Series MVP has yet to find his footing after he began the year on the wrong foot with injuries to his oblique and quad.

For now, the Jays have slotted Springer at cleanup, an unfamiliar role for someone accustomed to leading off.

Once play resumes on Friday with a three-game series against the Texas Rangers, one of the issues facing the Jays involves Springer and precisely where he best fits in the lineup.

What’s known is that Springer will be a staple, given the commitment the Jays made when luring him to Toronto, even though the franchise has yet to play a game of any consequence north of the border.


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What’s not known is whether Marcus Semien will be around beyond this season.

Semien is in Denver, site of Tuesday’s all-star game, one of three Blue Jays who will start for the AL.

He’s a free agent who has been asked to play at second base when his natural position is at shortstop.

Robbie Ray isn’t in Colorado, but he should have been given his body of work. On Sunday in Tampa, he allowed one hit and one walk, while striking out 11 in seven scintillating innings to improve to 7-4 .

It was Ray’s ninth game in which he has recorded nine or more Ks, tying the ace of all staff aces in New York Mets’ Jacob deGrom for most in the majors. Only Roger Clemens (140) has struck out more than Ray (130) in team history at the break. And like Semien, Ray is a pending free agent.


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The Jays sport a 45-42 record at the break and are in the hunt for a wild card berth and eight games back of AL East-leading Boston. They are scheduled to play 13 games before the July 30 trade deadline arrives.

Interestingly enough, seven of those 13 games will be against the Red Sox.

Blue Jays management has tried to address the bullpen by trading for the likes of Adam Cimber, Trevor Richards and Jacob Barnes. But there’s talk of the team being interested in bigger names such as Craig Kimbrel and Richard Rodriguez.

The Jays have also been linked to some big bats such as Nelson Cruz and even Joey Gallo. And outfielder Corey Dickerson came to the Jays with the side-armer Cimber from Miami in the package that sent Joe Panik to the Marlins, but remains out because of a foot injury.


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If anything, the Jays have shown they are not averse to pulling the trigger, but the next move, assuming one is viable, figures to be much more impactful.

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The Jays used the 19th overall pick in MLB’s first round to select RHP Gunnar Hoglund, regarded by many as a top-10 selection before he underwent Tommy John surgery in May. The book on Hoglund, an Ole Miss product, highlights his command and an arsenal that includes a slider that has cutter-like qualities. Scouts project Hoglund to be a mid-rotation starter. For the sake of Toronto baseball, hopefully he’s no Jonas Hoglund … Doug Melvin and Gord Ash, given their backgrounds have a soft spot for Canadians, which helps explain why the Milwaukee Brewers selected Wright State University second baseman Tyler Black, whose dad Rod is no slouch of an athlete when he’s not working as a broadcaster for TSN. Tyler Black was selected 33rd overall by the Brew Crew after he emerged as the lone Canuck taken in the first round. Black is a good kid with a bright future … The Jays forfeited their second-round pick after signing Springer, but they did have a third-round selection and used it on Golden West College LHP Ricky Tiedemann, who is known for throwing all three of his pitches for strikes in the absence of a true heater … Toronto then used its fourth-round pick on another pitcher, righty Chad Dallas, who became the ace of a College World Series staff at Tennessee … Irv Carter IV, a right-handed senior pitcher at Calvary Christian in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., went to Toronto in the fifth round.  Carter has committed to the University of Miami since Grade 8 and can reach 95 mph with his fastball … A fifth pitcher was taken when the Jays used their sixth-round pick to select Hayden Juenger, a 6-foot right-hander from Missouri State.

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