Loup taking time off due to forearm soreness

Blue Jays reliever feeling better, expected to resume throwing soon

Loup taking time off due to forearm soreness

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Blue Jays reliever Aaron Loup is expected to resume throwing in a couple of days after being shut down during the early stages of camp because of soreness in his left forearm.

Loup experienced some discomfort shortly after arriving to Spring Training last week. Team doctors examined the issue and ruled out any structural damage, but recommended a period of rest to avoid something more serious.

The 28-year-old likely won't appear in a Spring Training game for at least another week, but he'll begin throwing off a mound in the relatively near future. Manager John Gibbons doesn't anticipate any major problems.

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"He's feeling better," Gibbons said on Tuesday morning. "In the next couple of days, he'll throw and they'll have a better idea. The doctors didn't think it was that big of a deal, told him to take five days off."

• Right-hander Marco Estrada also is expected to begin throwing off a mound later this week. He has yet to pitch this spring after dealing with soreness in his lower back. But after last year's career-high workload, the plan all along was to have the veteran take it slow this spring.

• Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion is still a couple of days away from resuming baseball activities. Encarnacion had an abscessed tooth removed on Sunday and will take a brief period of rest before getting back on the field.

Pressing decisions
The Blue Jays have three key decisions to make this spring: The closer, the fifth starter and the leadoff hitter. Drew Storen and Roberto Osuna are competing for the ninth-inning duties, Aaron Sanchez headlines a long list of candidates to start while Kevin Pillar and Michael Saunders will battle for the leadoff spot.

All three are crucial decisions, but Toronto expects to make calls on each spot at some point during the middle of March. The Blue Jays would prefer to have defined roles with plenty of advance notice prior to the regular season, but there isn't an exact date when all the calls will be made.

"I think when we get to the middle of this camp, we'll have a pretty good feeling," Gibbons said. "I'm not sure what the ideal day is to tell them, but I think we'll have a pretty good idea in the middle."

Hutchison back in action
Right-hander Drew Hutchison pitched two innings in relief during Tuesday's Grapefruit League opener against the Phillies. He tossed a clean third inning and then allowed a solo homer to former Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia in the fourth. Overall, Hutchison allowed the one run on one hit with a hit batter and one strikeout.

"For me, it's just about commanding the ball," said Hutchison, who is competing for the final spot in the starting rotation. "I felt like I did that pretty well today with all three of the pitches. I had a good changeup and slider today so overall I thought it was pretty good."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, 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.