Blue Jays Are Slim Favorites in AL East After Jose Reyes’ Ankle Injury

R.A. Dickey, Jose Bautista, Henry BlancoArguably the most significant injury of the baseball season has hit the Blue Jays as they will be without All-Star shortstop Jose Reyes for three months with a severely sprained ankle.

The Jays remain the +250 favorites to win the AL East Division, but now by a smaller margin over the Red Sox (+300), Yankees (+325) and Rays (+350). Boston has been the big mover in the season’s first two weeks. Baltimore remains a +500 long shot.

Reyes was hurt attempting a steal in Friday’s game against the Royals after sliding awkwardly into the second base bag. Reyes said he heard something pop, and based on the way it looked in replays, it’s fortunate Reyes didn’t break his ankle. The team is hopeful Reyes can return around the All-Star Break, although Reyes believes he can speed up the recovery. The former NL batting champion was hitting .395 with one home run, five RBIs and five steals. If Reyes isn’t the best shortstop in baseball, he’s on the short list.

Emilio Bonifacio, who was acquired in that offseason trade with the Marlins that also brought Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Josh Johnson to Toronto, will hit leadoff in Reyes’ place. The team will mix and match at shortstop, and general manager Alex Anthopoulos has said he would look at potential trades.

One way the Jays could try and keep their best hitting lineup on the field until Reyes returns is to move third baseman Brett Lawrie to second base when he returns off the DL and play Jose Bautista at third. Lawrie has been getting work at second while rehabbing a rib injury and played there in the minors on the way up. Bautista’s original position was third before moving to the outfield. Should he move back to the hot corner, it opens more playing time in the outfield for Bonifacio, Rajai Davis or Casper Wells. Lawrie could make his season debut later this week.

After a slow start, the Yankees have righted the ship and won five of six entering Tuesday’s interleague series opener against the Diamondbacks. New York’s best pitcher thus far has been the ageless Andy Pettitte, who put off retirement for one more year. The 42-year-old lefty is 2-0 with a 1.20 ERA this season.

However, Pettitte has had his most recent scheduled start pushed back twice due to back spasms. The Yankees say they aren’t concerned, but Pettitte hasn’t pitched a full season since 2009 and was limited to 12 games in 2012 because of a fractured fibula.

The Yankees had two games rained out against the Indians last week, which is both a good and bad thing. It’s good because that takes two games off the early-season schedule while the Yankees are without Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson. The potential bad news is that the rainouts will be made up as a doubleheader May 13, which was a Yankees off day.

With that eliminated, the Yanks will play 16 straight days in May (11 on the road). Jeter and Teixeira should be back by then. Granderson (broken forearm) was hoping to play by May 1 but that’s being called unlikely. New York is 10-1 to win the AL pennant, the same as Boston.

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