Back from shoulder surgery, Sergio Santos hopes to regain Blue Jays’ closer job

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The Blue Jays were largely praised when they acquired Sergio Santos from the White Sox last winter, but his first season with Toronto was a bust, as he made just six appearances due to a nagging shoulder injury which eventually required surgery. Casey Janssen stepped up as the Blue Jays’ closer in his absence by saving 22 games in 25 chances while posting a 2.54 ERA, but Santos tells Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com that he’s ready to turn the page on 2012 and reclaim the closer job.

“Casey did an unbelievable job, but at the same time, I would love to be the closer,” said Santos, who is reporting to camp in early February. “That’s the role I relish. I would love to be able to go in and just compete for the job. If we go in and we compete and he beats me in the spring, I have no problem with being a seventh- or eighth-inning guy — whatever they need me to be.

“But just a chance to compete will be great, and if we’re both healthy and throwing well, with Darren coming back, our bullpen is going to be just fine.”

At the very least, the Blue Jays have makings of a potent late-inning combo. Janssen figures to have the edge over Santos going into spring training, but it’s worth noting that he’s coming off November surgery to relieve discomfort in the AC joint of his right shoulder.

Santos was solid in the closer role for the White Sox in 2011, posting a 3.55 ERA, 30 saves and a 92/29 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings. The 29-year-old right-hander is owed $6.5 million over the next two seasons while his contract includes team-friendly club options from 2015-2017.

Anthony DeSclafani crushed a grand slam for his first career home run

Anthony DeSclafani
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Reds right-hander Anthony DeSclafani put on a show during Saturday’s matinee against the Cubs. Up 2-1 in the third inning, the hurler hooked a Brian Duensing fastball over the left field fence for his first career home run — and first career grand slam:

Grand slams are impressive no matter the player or situation, but they’re made all the more special in rare circumstances like this one. Not only is DeSclafani the first pitcher to deliver a grand slam in 2018, but he’s the first Reds hurler to do so in nearly 60 years. Per MLB.com’s Brian Scott Rippee, right-hander Bob Purkey was the last to hit a slam for the Reds in 1959, when he took Cubs reliever John Buzhardt deep in the third inning of a 12-3 drubbing.

The 28-year-old righty had a decent outing on the mound as well, holding the Cubs to two runs, four walks, and three strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings before passing the ball to reliever Michael Lorenzen. Entering Saturday, he carried a 2-1 record in three games, with a 4.60 ERA, 2.3 BB/9 and 8.6 SO/9 across 15 2/3 innings — not too shabby for someone who hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016.

The Reds currently lead 8-2 in the bottom of the seventh.