Blue Jays' Opening Day roster set as Nathan Lukes earns final spot
Nathan Lukes beat Otto Lopez for the final spot on the Blue Jays' Opening Day roster.
The Toronto Blue Jays' spring training schedule is over, and the roster they will take to St. Louis for Opening Day on Thursday has come into clear focus.
Toronto made it through the Grapefruit League schedule fairly unscathed, with Vladimir Guerrero Jr.'s small knee issue the only real health scare along the way. Right-hander Mitch White will begin the season on the injured list, but Yusei Kikuchi pitched so well this spring that White never stood a chance of earning the fifth starter spot even if he were healthy. White's injury did allow Canadian reliever Zach Pop to start the year in the majors, though.
Yusei’s Day: 6 Ks, 0 ER 😤
Yusei’s Spring: 0.87 ERA 😱 pic.twitter.com/fqnzVSsAds
— Toronto Blue Jays (@BlueJays) March 28, 2023
With such a clean bill of health, the Blue Jays really only had one true battle for a roster spot over the past month, as outfielder Nathan Lukes and utility man Otto Lopez fought for the role of 26th man. In a bit of a surprising decision, the Blue Jays opted to give Lukes the nod as Lopez was optioned to triple-A and will begin the year with the Buffalo Bisons.
Lukes put together his second consecutive strong spring, finishing with a .286/.340/.429 slash line. He hit .285/.364/.425 in 111 games with the Bisons in 2022. The 28-year-old has never appeared in an MLB game, so cracking the Opening Day roster had to feel extra special.
The 28-year-old doesn't figure to see consistent playing time, as the Blue Jays outfield features Daulton Varsho, Kevin Kiermaier and George Springer as the three regulars. If Lukes does need to spell one of those three, manager John Schneider feels comfortable writing his name on the lineup card.
“We trust him in the outfield,” Schneider told reporters on Tuesday, per Sportsnet's Ben Nicholson-Smith. “We trust him on the bases. Obviously, his at-bats have been great. But the way we're built and constructed right now, it'll be in a probably here-and-there role to start. But just excited that he's got the chance at the major leagues.”
Blue Jays' Opening Day roster
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.