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Blue Jays reliever Chad Green has made an already strong bullpen even deeper

Toronto Blue Jays relief pitcher Chad Green (37) reacts during ninth inning American League MLB baseball action against the Texas Rangers in Toronto, on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Spencer Colby

MINNEAPOLIS — One month into his return to the big leagues, Blue Jays reliever Chad Green has provided another quality arm to a Toronto bullpen loaded with talent.

His reinstatement after undergoing Tommy John surgery last year has given Toronto manager John Schneider a right-hander who can be used in a variety of situations. 

"From a veteran standpoint, obviously being in this division for his whole career and pitching in big spots and high leverage, (it's) just his presence," Schneider said. "I love the way that he's throwing the ball. 

"Between his experience and his stuff, it's been a tremendous addition for us."

Green was primarily used as a reliever over seven seasons with New York before injuring his elbow early in the 2022 campaign. 

He signed a two-year contract with Toronto before the start of the '23 season. 

Green was able to build up at Class A Dunedin and triple-A Buffalo over the summer before making his Blue Jays debut on Sept. 1. 

"The power is there, the depth to his slider is there, the command is there," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said Monday. "He's been a really nice addition with an incredible set of experiences and a great reputation."

Green, 32, settled in to big-league action over the first couple weeks back and has allowed just one earned run in his last six appearances.

"You can put him anywhere," Schneider said in a recent interview. "He's ready for anything and he's done that over the course of his career. 

"So whenever the situation dictates Mr. Green's services, we will call upon him."

Toronto spent most of the stretch drive hovering around the playoff cutline before finally nailing down a berth last Saturday. The Blue Jays were scheduled to open the best-of-three wild-card series on Tuesday against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.

Green said his elbow "feels great" and he's "pretty happy" with where he's at.

"When you're going through the rehab process, you have a lot of time to think about what things could look like when you do come back," Green said. "This is exactly what I thought it would be."

The AL Central champion Twins will host all games against the sixth-seeded Blue Jays. The series winner will play the West champion Houston Astros in the AL Division Series.

Green capped the regular season with a 3-0 record, a 5.25 earned-run average and 16 strikeouts over 12 innings pitched.

During his time with New York, he was 33-22 with a 3.17 ERA and 11 saves in 272 appearances. 

"A guy that takes and wants the ball," said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. "Super accountable. Has maybe quietly been one of the best relievers — in a non-closer (role) — in the sport over the last half-decade or so before finally last year he had to have Tommy John."

Recovery from the elbow ligament surgery typically takes between 12 and 18 months.

"It was something that I remember for me was incredibly emotional just because of the respect I have for the person and just how consistently he's performed over the years," Boone recalled. 

"Obviously (he has) a really good fastball that's always been his calling card throughout his career. But a great pro, a great person and someone we miss here." 

Toronto's bullpen is anchored by closer Jordan Romano of Markham, Ont., and Jordan Hicks. 

Green has provided more depth to a relief crew that also includes Tim Mayza, Erik Swanson, Genesis Cabrera, Yimi Garcia and Trevor Richards.

The Blue Jays led the American League with 51 saves and were fifth with a bullpen ERA of 3.68.

"I think what makes a good bullpen is you can throw a lot of different things at people," Green said. "I think that's exactly what we have. We have lefties who throw hard, a lefty-sinkerballer. We've got righties who can run it up there in the upper 90s. 

"We can throw a lot of different looks at people."

Kevin Gausman was scheduled to be the Game 1 starter for Toronto. Jose Berrios will start Game 2 and, if necessary, it's likely Chris Bassitt will get the nod to pitch in Game 3.

In the playoffs — especially in a short best-of-three series — every relief inning will have a high-leverage feel. 

"(We have) guys who don't have egos," Green said. "Guys who are willing to pitch in any situation, I think that helps too because it can kind of handcuff some teams when guys aren't willing to do that I think. 

"So to have a group of guys willing to pitch whenever, I think helps a lot." 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 2, 2023. 

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on X.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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