Estrada likely to begin season on disabled list

Estrada likely to begin season on disabled list

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- Blue Jays right-hander Marco Estrada appears likely to begin the season on the 15-day disabled list because of a back injury that caused him to have a delayed start at Spring Training.

Estrada, who will pitch in a Minor League game on Wednesday, missed the first month of camp because of a back injury he sustained while working out prior to his arrival in Florida. He returned last week, but he's thrown a total of 5 2/3 official innings and needs more time to get ready.

Toronto has yet to make the move official, but the plan is to backdate Estrada's stint on the DL to March 26 and then have him return to make his regular-season debut against the Red Sox on April 10.

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"It's leaning towards we're probably going to DL him, and then he'll make that start on the first Sunday at home against Boston, that final day. That's probably what we're going to do," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "Not finalized yet, but that's probably going to happen."

With an off-day after the season-opening four-game series against the Rays from Sunday through next Wednesday, Toronto does not need a fifth starter until the second week of the season. Instead of adding a replacement for Estrada, the club will carry an extra reliever until he's added to the roster.

Toronto now has three spots available in the bullpen, with four candidates in the mix: Pat Venditte, Ryan Tepera, Arnold Leon and Joe Biagini. Gibbons seemed to confirm that Biagini would make the team, and while Venditte or Tepera could be sent to the Minors, Leon is out of options and would have to clear waivers before that could happen.

"We want to give him a look regardless," Gibbons said of Biagini, who was a Rule 5 pick from the Giants this offseason. "He has a great arm, and we think he's just coming into his own. You don't want to keep him all spring and not take a chance and look at him and see what you've got. You want to at least give him a look."

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.