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In placing No. 1 starter Yu Darvish on the 15-day injured list Wednesday due to neck tightness, the San Diego Padres got their first bad injury news of 2024.

But as it prepares to open a three-game weekend series Friday night against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays, San Diego might get back a key component of its lineup. First baseman Jake Cronenworth, who sat out the last couple of games of the team’s series in Milwaukee with tightness in his right calf, feels like he will be able to return.

“I think I’ll play Friday,” he said Wednesday after the Padres’ 1-0 loss prevented a series sweep of the Brewers.

Manager Mike Shildt said Cronenworth and the team caught a break with where his injury occurred.

“It’s in a unique spot,” Shildt said after Monday night’s 7-3 win. “It’s not necessarily in the calf. It kind of leaks into the hamstring. The good news is he walked out without any real discomfort [Sunday]. We’re hopeful that it won’t be a long-term situation. We’re taking it literally day by day.”

Cronenworth is batting .254 in 19 games with three homers and 14 RBIs. He’s coming off the worst season of his four-year MLB career, hitting just .229 with 10 homers and 48 RBIs over 127 games. The year before, he drove in a career-high 88 runs.

Coming off three straight series wins, San Diego will trot out No. 5 starter Matt Waldron (0-1, 3.14 ERA) to open this series. The knuckleballer is coming off a no-decision Saturday at the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowing one run over five innings in the team’s 5-2 loss. This will be the right-hander’s first career appearance against Toronto.

As for the Blue Jays, they’re making the long flight after a bitter 6-4 home loss Wednesday against the New York Yankees. Toronto led 4-2 going into the ninth, but its bullpen coughed up a chance to sweep the series by allowing four runs.

Although the Blue Jays missed on a chance to take a five-game winning streak to the West Coast, manager John Schneider was still pleased with their play on a 6-3 homestand.

“Today’s a sour taste,” he said. “Still, that’s a really good homestand and the at-bats were really good, up and down the lineup against good pitching. I thought we played extremely well. It’s nice to be home in front of our fans.”

Toronto starts the trip with rookie Yariel Rodriguez (0-0, 2.45) scheduled to start. He made his big league debut Saturday in a 5-3 victory over Colorado, lasting 3⅔ innings and 68 pitches. The right-hander gave up four hits and a run with two walks and six strikeouts.

The Cuban-born Rodriguez’s stuff and emotions were both electric.

“My first outing, since the very first inning, I went out there to give the best of me,” said Rodriguez, 27. “The adrenaline was very high but everything ... everything was very emotional. I’ve been waiting for this moment my entire life.”

Daulton Varsho has been the hot hitter lately in the Blue Jays’ lineup. He belted a grand slam in support of Rodriguez on Saturday, then cracked two homers on Wednesday.

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