TORONTO — Blue Jays reliever Joaquin Benoit will miss the rest of the regular season after tearing his left calf muscle when he tripped and fell while running in from the bullpen the second time benches cleared during Monday’s 7-5 loss to the New York Yankees.
Benoit expects to be out for at least two to three weeks, meaning he likely won’t pitch again unless the Blue Jays make deep playoff run.
Second baseman Devon Travis will not play the opener of Tuesday’s pivotal series against Baltimore after he jammed his surgically repaired left shoulder in the same shoving match with the Yankees. Travis left Monday after aggravating the injury during his next at-bat.
The Blue Jays added right-hander Chris Smith and infielder Andy Burns to its roster. Both finished the minor league season with Triple-A Buffalo.
Toronto leads the wild-card race, one game ahead of Baltimore.
Benoit has been a reliable setup man since a July 26 trade with Seattle, going 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA and 24 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings.
“It’s a big loss, no doubt about it,” manager John Gibbons said. “He’s been so good.”
Benoit left the stadium on crutches Monday and was still using them Tuesday, along with a walking boot. He said he felt a pop as he ran onto the field after New York’s Luis Severino was ejected for hitting Toronto’s Justin Smoak with a pitch.
“It felt like something hit me,” he said. “I won’t be able to get on the mound anytime soon, so personally this is really disappointing.”
Left-hander Brett Cecil and right-handed rookie Joe Biagini will see time in Benoit’s seventh inning role, Gibbons said.
Travis had an X-ray Tuesday to confirm that screws in his shoulder were not displaced during the brawl.
“I believe I’ll be OK, said Travis, who is batting .299 with 10 homers and 49 RBIs. “I feel better today than yesterday and I can move my arm. I’ll be in there. Somehow, some way, I’ll be in there.”
Monday’s tit-for-tat with the Yankees saw Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ retaliate after MVP Josh Donaldson was hit, throwing twice at Chase Headley. That led to Severino throwing at Smoak.
Gibbons said the incident, which came in the final regular-season meeting between the teams, “wasn’t a knee jerk reaction.”
“Teams pitch us inside, no doubt about that,” Gibbons said. “We’ve had some close calls. Sometimes you’ve got to deal with things. One thing that’s key to the success of a team is that they stick together. That’s all I’m going to say on that.”
Toronto pitcher Marcus Stroman was more vocal than his manager, firing back at Headley over accusations that Stroman had yelled obscenities at Yankees batters after striking them out in Saturday’s Toronto victory.
“I couldn’t care less what other teams think of me or my team,” Stroman said. “We play with a lot of passion. We play with a lot of heart and we’re not boring. Boring people have problems with that.”
Unlike his two injured players, Gibbons made sure to stay out of trouble during both melees with the Yankees.
“To tell you the truth, I just had half my toenail cut out, an ingrown toenail, and guys were starting to step on it,” Gibbons said. “That was my biggest concern.”
Right-hander Brady Dagmire was designated for assignment to open a roster spot for Smith.