ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr. returned to the starting lineup Friday for Toronto’s series opener against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Guerrero, who missed most of the last two games with right knee discomfort, was slated to bat third as the designated hitter.
Cavan Biggio was set to bat cleanup and play Guerrero’s usual position of first base.
Guerrero was replaced by a pinch-runner late in Tuesday’s game in New York after he appeared to be bothered by his leg while running to first base.
He sat out Wednesday’s game against the Yankees and came on as a pinch-hitter on Thursday. An MRI exam showed inflammation but no structural damage.
A three-time all-star, Guerrero is hitting .264 with 24 homers and 91 RBIs in 148 games this season.
The Blue Jays are in the thick of a tight playoff race in the American League.
Toronto started the day with a half-game lead on the Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card spot. Texas and Seattle both have a game in hand on Toronto and hold the tiebreaker advantage on the Blue Jays.
The hometown Rays, meanwhile, entered play 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles in the East Division standings.
The division winner will get a bye to the AL Division Series while the second-place finisher will get the first of three wild-card spots.