Abcessed tooth sits Encarnacion for couple days

Gibbons provides updates on Loup, Estrada, Saunders, Chavez

Abcessed tooth sits Encarnacion for couple days

Prior to his team's Grapefruit League matchup with the Pirates on Thursday, Blue Jays manager John Gibbons provided updates on a number of players.

Lefty Aaron Loup, who is dealing with left forearm soreness, played catch in the morning and felt a little tender. He will undergo further examination, including an MRI.

Right-hander Marco Estrada, who has experienced soreness in his lower back this spring, will throw off the mound on Friday.

Edwin Encarnacion, who had an abscessed tooth removed on Sunday, came in for treatment Thursday morning.

"Eddie's not going to do any on-field stuff for a couple of more days, but he's feeling better," Gibbons said..

Gibbons also shared his views on several other players whom the Blue Jays hope will play key roles throughout the 2016 season.

On what a healthy Michael Saunders would mean to the team: "Huge. We were so excited to get Michael last year, and then he had the knee problem -- the freak accident. We were counting on him last year, and we're counting on him again this year," Gibbons said.

"He feels great," Gibbons added of Saunders. "He's a little bit behind the eight ball … he hasn't played for a while, so we've got to make sure we get him enough at bats to get back in the swing of it, but he's a big part of this team so we need him to be good."

On Jesse Chavez, who pitched two scoreless relief innings in Wednesday's 4-4 tie with the Phillies: "He's looked good. He always had a good arm," said Gibbons

The veteran Chavez is competing for a spot in the rotation, but the club likes his versatility.

"We're not sure what his role's going to be, Gibbons said. "He's competing for that fifth spot, but if he's not that guy, I can see him still being very valuable out of the bullpen. He could even pitch later in the game. He wouldn't necessarily be limited to long or middle type innings, because you know he's going to throw strikes."

On ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte: "The more we see him, the more we'll get a better idea of who he is. You've got to watch a guy's stuff as you get later into camp, and hitters are starting to get their timing down a little bit. You really want to see how he is against lefties. You can use him a lot because he throws with both arms. We've heard good things about him. He's got a little bit of a different arm angle -- he's not extreme like some other guys -- it's a different look, and some hitters don't like that, so we'll see."

Michael Kolligian is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.