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03/31/08 1:30 PM ET

Stairs out of Opening Day lineup

Jays hope hip injury won't lead to stint on disabled list

NEW YORK -- The Blue Jays kept Matt Stairs out of their starting lineup for Monday's regular-season opener against the Yankees, but Toronto is hoping to avoid placing the veteran outfielder on the 15-day disabled list this week.

Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said the plan was to hopefully have Stairs not play on Monday and then use the off-day on Tuesday to continue to rest the outdielder's sore left hip flexor. If Stairs is still dealing with the discomfort on Wednesday, Gibbons said the Jays would probably consider placing the 40-year-old on the DL.

"He feels really well right now," Blue Jays general manager J.P. Ricciardi said on Monday. "So we'll see how he feels after today's batting practice in the cage, and we'll go day to day right now."

With Stairs on Toronto's bench, the Blue Jays inserted outfielder Shannon Stewart into the second spot of the lineup as the starting left fielder. The plan heading into the season was to have Stairs and Stewart split playing time in left as part of a platoon scenario.

Gibbons said Stairs could come off the bench on Monday as a pinch-hitter if necessary, considering the hip issue hasn't presented a problem when the outfielder has taken batting practice. If Stairs reached base, Gibbons said a pinch-runner would likely replace him on the basepaths.

On Thursday, Stairs visited a hip specialist who determined that there were no structural issues with the bone or hip socket. The root of the problem is in the muscles surrounding the hip -- similar to an issue Stairs had last season. The veteran said there has been a higher level of discomfort this time around, especially when running.

If the minor injury did warrant a trip to the 15-day DL for Stairs, the stint on the shelf would be retroactive to March 23 -- the last time the oufielder appeared in a Spring Training game. That would allow Stairs to be activated from the DL in time for Toronto's April 8-10 series at home against the A's.

Stairs hit .289 with 21 home runs and 64 RBIs in 125 games for the Blue Jays last season, earning a two-year contract worth $3.25 million in November.

Jordan Bastian is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.