Girodo on fast track to Blue Jays' bullpen

Girodo on fast track to Blue Jays' bullpen

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays left-hander Chad Girodo has emerged as someone who should be watched closely over the next several weeks as he makes a case to crack the 25-man roster out of the bullpen.

Girodo didn't receive much attention during the early days of Spring Training but an injury to Aaron Loup has left the door open for more recognition. Loup was recently shut down for two weeks because of a forearm strain and likely won't be ready for the start of the year.

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That created an opportunity for Girodo because the Blue Jays ideally would prefer to carry a second lefty in the bullpen to complement setup man Brett Cecil. That pitcher ultimately could be Girodo, who also will receive competition from Wade LeBlanc and switch pitcher Pat Venditte.

"We're looking for lefties, especially with Loupy being down," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Girodo, who retired two of the three lefties he faced in Tuesday's 9-3 win over Minnesota. "We even jumped him up last year, probably ahead of schedule, just to get a look for the possibility of coming up last year. It didn't happen, but he's on the radar and you're always looking for lefties, who can get lefties out."

The 25-year-old Girodo went through three levels of the Minor Leagues last season. He began the year in Class A Dunedin, had a lengthy stint in Double-A New Hampshire and then made a brief appearance with Triple-A Buffalo to end the season. He posted a combined 1.34 ERA while striking out 58 in 60 1/3 innings.

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Leading off

Michael Saunders has yet to make an appearance as a leadoff hitter this spring, but Blue Jays manager John Gibbons insists he has yet to determine who will be in the No. 1 spot at the start of the season. Gibbons previously said that the club is considering either Kevin Pillar or Saunders for the top spot and, in his view, that's still the case.

"I like the thought of Kevin doing it, we'll see what he can do, but Michael is still an option," Gibbons said. "I wouldn't over-read that."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. 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.