October 14, 2016 - 6:51 PM
CLEVELAND - The Blue Jays opted for safety Friday in choosing their roster for the American League Championship Series.
Toronto kept faith with pitcher Francisco Liriano (concussion) and second baseman Devon Travis (knee) but first baseman Justin Smoak and pitcher Scott Feldman made way for infielder Ryan Goins and outfielder Dalton Pompey in its 25-man roster.
Gibbons said Travis was "good to go," ahead of Friday night's Game 1 in Cleveland. But Travis pulled up lame in the fifth inning after covering first base on a groundball and was pulled from the field, with Goins taking his place.
Right-fielder Jose Bautista can also sub for starter Edwin Encarnacion at first if needed. Smoak has just one at-bat in this post-season.
"Not a lot of pinch-hitting opportunities with this team," said Gibbons, adding that catcher Russell Martin would have served as the extra infielder if they had not added Goins. Pompey adds speed off the bench.
Liriano was hit in the back of the head by a Carlos Gomez line drive in the eighth inning of Game 2 of the AL Division Series with the Texas Rangers on Oct. 7. He left the game on his own steam and was diagnosed with a mild concussion after being taken to hospital for tests.
Under MLB's concussion protocol, he is not eligible to return to action until Game 2 on Saturday, meaning Toronto had to go a player down in Friday's Game 1, with a 24-man roster.
Toronto manager John Gibbons said the rule not allowing the Jays to replace Liriano in Game 1 "needs to be looked at."
Marcus Stroman, tabbed to start Game 3, was a possible relief option in the series opener.
Liriano was cleared by Major League Baseball in the wake of the concussion. And the Jays watched him pitch Thursday to check him out in advance of declaring their roster.
"He's got a chance to be a valuable guy to us if he's healthy," Gibbons said.
The 32-year-old left-hander can start or come on in relief. The Jays have been using him out of the bullpen recently.
The Toronto lineup features 11 pitchers and 14 position players.
The Indians subbed in left-hander Ryan Merritt in place of catcher Chris Gimenez. Cleveland went with 12 pitchers and 13 position players.
The Indians had carried three catchers during the ALDS because of concern over Yan Gomes, who is coming off a broken bone in his right wrist in mid-September. Roberto Perez took care of catching duties against the Red Sox.
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News from © The Canadian Press, 2016