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Blue Jays relievers Romano, Swanson likely to start season on IL

Toronto Blue Jays relievers Jordan Romano and Erik Swanson are expected to begin the season on the injured list in a significant blow to the back end of the team’s bullpen.

Romano, an All-Star closer, has been dealing with right elbow inflammation. Swanson, a top setup man, was slowed by right forearm inflammation.

With opening day coming up Thursday at Tampa Bay, manager John Schneider told reporters in Florida it’s “reasonable to say” that Romano and Swanson probably will start on the IL.

Toronto did get an encouraging performance from No. 1 starter Kevin Gausman, who pitched three strong innings Monday against Pittsburgh in his Grapefruit League debut.

The right-hander, who had been sidelined by shoulder fatigue, struck out seven and walked none in the Blue Jays’ spring training finale. He allowed one run and three hits.

It’s possible that Gausman, a two-time All-Star who finished third in AL Cy Young Award voting last year and led the league with 237 strikeouts, could begin the season in the rotation rather than on the IL.

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Kevin Gausman pitches during Spring Training action in Dunedin, Fla. on Friday, February 16, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

Romano saved 36 games each of the past two seasons and made the All-Star team both years. He was 5-7 with a 2.90 ERA and 72 strikeouts over 59 innings in 2023.

Swanson went 4-2 with a 2.97 ERA and a team-high 29 holds to go with four saves in 69 appearances.

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