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The Mitchell Report: Phelps’ return helps Jays bullpen now, Atkins’ rebuild later

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Veteran reliever David Phelps made his first appearance in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform on Monday after nearly two years of recovering from Tommy John surgery, but the reality is that Charlie Montoyo’s club is 20 games under .500 and every veteran on the roster is a trade chip. TSN Baseball Reporter Scott Mitchell checks in with news and notes on the Jays.

TORONTO — His elbow reconstruction now in the rear-view mirror, David Phelps is finally a member of the Blue Jays bullpen for the first time.

But for how long?

That may seem like an odd question considering the 32-year-old reliever just made his first appearance in a Blue Jays uniform on Monday, but the reality is that Charlie Montoyo’s club is 20 games under .500 and every veteran on the roster is a trade chip.

Yes, even those who didn’t pitch in a major league game for more than 21 months.

Signed by general manager Ross Atkins in January to an incentive-laden one-year deal with a club option for 2020, Phelps has about six weeks to prove his health to other clubs around baseball, and it could, perhaps, be enough to prompt a bullpen-needy team to take a chance at the July 31 trade deadline.

If the results aren’t there or the Jays decide the market isn’t offering up fair value, Atkins could easily pick up the option for next season — how much it’s worth is tied to the number of appearances he ends up making, but it’s a no-brainer if he pitches well — and place Phelps in a key setup role to begin 2020.

There’s also a chance Phelps could be in the mix for saves, depending what happens with fellow right-hander Ken Giles, who will be one of the top relievers on the July market if he returns no worse for wear from his current IL stint, which the Blue Jays expect to happen later this week.

Phelps isn’t thinking much about where he’ll be pitching.

It’s all about finding his footing after a long layoff and letting everything else fall into place.

“I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet, fully,” said Phelps, whose debut Monday consisted of a scoreless inning and his........