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article imageBlue Jays name Opening Day roster, leave Osuna as closer

By Marcus Hondro     Mar 31, 2016 in Sports
After finally getting to playoff baseball last season the Toronto Blue Jays are set for the new campaign with great expectations. Manager John Gibbons name his opening day roster Wednesday and there were few surprises.
Talking to reporters after his team was named, Gibbons said the expectations on his ball club leave him more ready than usual to change up the 25-man roster whenever needed. But he added that he was happy with the amount of competition and how hard players worked at camp.
"We had so many guys who had good springs," Gibbons told reporters. "There were really a lot of tough decisions. But, we’re in a position where we want to win something this year so, if we need to make changes as we go along, we’ll make sure we have the best guys available on the team.
"I have to tip my hat to everybody," he added. "They all performed well."
Perhaps the biggest news was Gibbons' decision to leave second-year man, Roberto Osuna, 21, as their closer. The incumbent inherited the job midway through last season and managed 20 saves out of 23 chances.
Osuna was challenged in spring training by Drew Storen, himself a strong closer who came over from the Washington Nationals for sparkplug Ben Revere in the off-season. Storen notched 29 saves last season for the Nats.
Along with Osuna and Storen in the Jays' bullpen there will be another six arms and they are Brett Cecil (the lone left reliever), Gavin Floyd, Jesse Chavez, Arnold Leon, Ryan Tepera and Joe Biagini.
The starting rotation is Marcus Stroman, who gets the opening day call Sunday in Tampa Bay against the Rays; R.A. Dickey; Aaron Sanchez and lefty J.A. Happ. The fifth starter, Marco Estrada, has a back ailment but should be ready to go soon.
Here's the starting line-up:
Edwin Encarnacion, DH
Russell Martin, C
Chris Colabello, 1B
Ryan Goins, 2B
Josh Donaldson, 3B
Troy Tulowitzki, SS
Michael Saunders, LF
Kevin Pillar, CF
Jose Bautista, RF
The four utility players on the bench are catcher Josh Thole, infielder Darwin Barney, outfielder Ezequiel Carrera, and first-baseman/DH Justin Smoak. Encarnacion and his sore ribs should also be ready to go on opening day.
That opening day game in Tampa Bay goes at 4:05 p.m. EST. The Jays first home game is Friday, April 8 against the Boston Red Sox at 7:07 p.m. eastern time.
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