Jeff Niemann undergoes MRI exam on injured back

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Jeff Niemann exited last night’s start against the Blue Jays after just four innings because of back soreness and Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that he underwent an MRI exam this morning.

Niemann told Topkin that he’s “still pretty sore” after visiting with a back specialist and it sounds like his ending up on the disabled list is likely.

Topkin speculates that Andy Sonnanstine would slide into the rotation if that happens. He started 22, 32, and 18 games from 2007-2009, but Sonnanstine has just four starts among 47 total appearances since the beginning of last season and sports a 5.33 career ERA as a starter. Recalling Alex Cobb from Triple-A is another option.

Josh Donaldson is still seeking a long-term deal with the Blue Jays

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If it were up to him, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson would finish the remainder of his career in Toronto. In fact, he’d be “ticked pink” if the club decided to sign him to a long-term deal. Whether the Blue Jays share that sentiment is still unclear, as Donaldson said Saturday that the team has yet to engage his agent in extension talks.

“I’ve said that I wanted to be here,” he told MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm. “That’s pretty much all I can say. I’m not the one who makes the decisions, nor would I try to put them in the position to do that. Like I said, I believe the situation will become more fluid when the time is right.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean an extension is out of the question. The Blue Jays reached an unprecedented one-year, $23 million agreement with the three-time All-Star in arbitration, and have been reticent to field trade offers despite continued interest from the Cardinals this winter.

Donaldson, 32, is poised to enter his eighth season in the majors and fourth with the Blue Jays. In 2017, he batted .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs and a .944 OPS in 496 plate appearances, ranking sixth among all major league third baseman with 5.0 fWAR. He’s scheduled to enter free agency following the 2018 season.