NEW YORK – Colby Rasmus returned from a 33-game absence on Wednesday night and manager John Gibbons was eager to get another big bat in the lineup to provide his club a threat near the bottom of the order.
“He gives us another power threat,” said Gibbons. “We haven't had a whole lot of power lately.”
The slumping Blue Jays, losers of seven of 10 entering Wednesday's play, activated Rasmus from the disabled list and sent his replacement, Anthony Gose, back to Triple-A Buffalo.
It was a long road to recovery for Rasmus, who'd been on the disabled list since May 13 with tightness in his right hamstring. Rasmus initially thought the injury would heal in a matter of days.
“It's always a learning experience,” said Rasmus. “Pushing yourself too quick or too slow. Every injury is different. This is a different injury and I just had to learn what I did and, hopefully, next time I'll be able to correct it faster. But I'm here now and ready to play.”
Rasmus is one of the game's streakier hitters. When he's hot, he hits home runs in bunches. When he slumps, he swings and misses a lot and strikes out often.
In 37 games this season, Rasmus is hitting .222/.266/.489 (.755 OPS) with nine home runs. Twice this season, he has hit three home runs in a span of four games (April 10-13 and May 1-4), which account for six of his nine long balls.
Still, Rasmus has struck out in 32.8 per cent of his plate appearances this season, compared to 29.5 per cent last year and 24.6 per cent for his career.
“Yeah, I mean he's always been that way,” said Gibbons. “You wish it wasn't so often but, you know, I mean he can run into some balls too and make a difference that way.”
LIND CONFIDENT HE'LL AVOID DISABLED LIST
On Wednesday, the Blue Jays played a third consecutive game without the services of designated hitter/first baseman Adam Lind.
Lind's been down since fouling a ball off his right foot in Saturday's loss at Baltimore. He suffered a deep bone bruise and, on Sunday, was using crutches and wearing a walking boot.
He's since come out of the boot and hit off a tee on Wednesday afternoon.
“There's been improvements every day,” said Lind. “Now, we're just working on a tape job to try and relieve as much stress or pain on my foot as we can so I can get in the lineup.”
Lind wasn't sure whether he could pinch-hit on Wednesday night. Manager John Gibbons has a three-man bench, not including Lind, and the Blue Jays may be hesitant to use Lind in case he ultimately requires a trip to the disabled list. A DL stint, if needed, could be made retroactive to Sunday (making Lind eligible to return on June 30) as long as he doesn't appear in a game.
Based on the progress he's made, Lind isn't planning on being placed on the disabled list.
“It's not constant,” said Lind of the pain in his foot. “When I sit still it doesn't hurt. I have a tape job right now and it's helped a lot. I hit with spikes, it wasn't so well. I hit with turfs and it was much better. If I pinch hit, I'll be in my turfs.”
The Blue Jays are slumping after winning 15 of 17 games. They've dropped seven of their last 10, thanks in part to a significant decrease in the number of home runs they've been hitting.
Toronto leads the major leagues with 93 home runs but has hit only four in the last 10 games.
Jose Reyes (June 9, June 17) has two of them. The other two were hit by Edwin Encarnacion (June 9) and Juan Francisco (June 13).
The Blue Jays won the June 9 game, 5-4 over Minnesota and the June 13 game, 4-0 over Baltimore but lost the June 17 game, 3-1 to New York.
Entering Wednesday's play, Jose Bautista was without a home run in 10 games, his longest drought of the season.
PRAY FOR NO RAIN
The five-day forecast for New York City suggests the Yankees won't have a rainout during their three-game weekend series with the Baltimore Orioles.
That's important to the Blue Jays because right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, who beat Toronto on Tuesday night to improve his record to 11-1, is scheduled to start on Sunday.
Naturally, the Blue Jays would like Tanaka to pitch against another divisional opponent. Add to that the fact the Yankees visit Toronto for three games starting on Monday. If the Yankees have a rainout this weekend, Tanaka's start could be pushed back into the series with the Blue Jays.
As it stands, Toronto is due to miss Tanaka next week.
The Yankees are 12-2 in games Tanaka starts and 24-31 otherwise.
TWO MORE DRAFT PICKS SIGN
The Blue Jays formally announced the signings of third-round pick, left-handed pitcher Nick Wells (83rd overall) and sixth-round pick, left-handed pitcher Grayson Huffman (174th overall).
Wells is 18 years old. Huffman is 19 years old.