TORONTO - Emilio Bonifacio is a Kansas City Royal, Colby Rasmus is on the disabled list and Kevin Pillar and Munenori Kawasaki are up from Triple-A, the first in what could be a series of moves which reflect the harsh truths the Blue Jays face: the season is over and the future is now.
"Boni wasn't getting a lot of playing time here and obviously scuffled with the bat," said general manager Alex Anthopoulos. "It was also a chance to get Pillar up here as well. I think in the next few days we'll probably have to make another move with an outfielder; we're playing with three right now."
Expect Anthony Gose to be recalled next, perhaps as early as Thursday.
Colby Rasmus has a strained left oblique, suffered on a check swing during an at-bat on Sunday against Oakland. With Melky Cabrera down thanks to lingering knee trouble the Jays need both Pillar and Gose to maintain a complement of four outfielders.
Pillar arrives on merit. A 32nd round pick two years ago out of California State University Dominguez Hills, he's hit .299 or better at five minor league stops, rocketing through the system.
He's earned respect for "playing the game the right way" and is described by observers close to the Blue Jays as being "fundamentally sound." The latter should be music to a fan's ears.
"Clearly I could say, and I say that respectfully, we got him wrong," said Anthopoulos. "Just because if he has a chance to get to the big leagues you don't wait for the 30th round to select him. You could say that about Mike Piazza and Albert Pujols and Ian Kinsler and all these guys who were late picks.I think it's a credit to the player and a credit to player development, both of them, really."
The math says Pillar was passed over in the 2011 draft almost 1,000 times. It's a staggering number. Don't doubt Pillar remembers. Scouts say none of his tools stand out but emulating the work ethic of his baseball hero, Cal Ripken Jr., Pillar has met each challenge with success.
"Being drafted in the 32nd round after what I at least thought was a successful college career even though it was the Division II level, there's definitely a chip on my shoulder to prove that they may have got it wrong in the draft, that the system may not be perfect," said Pillar. "Going in, naturally, I was already a little upset. I carried that chip on my shoulder."
The Bonifacio trade came together after he was placed on waivers and claimed by Kansas City. The Jays will receive a cash consideration or a player in return and the two sides have about a month to work out the specifics.
Bonifacio's tenure in Toronto ends. In a way, it doesn't feel as if his tenure really began. He struggled offensively and defensively out of the gate, never putting together consistently good at bats and failing to stake claim to second base, which could have been his.
With just a .258 on-base percentage, Bonifacio's speed was rendered irrelevant and a strength of his - the stolen base - never materialized. He was thrown out six times in only 18 attempts.
"It's one of those things, I mean you try everything and stuff doesn't come your way," said Jose Reyes, one of Bonifacio's good friends on the club. "Boni is a guy who's hard working. He comes here early everyday, working to try to get better. For him, he's the guy if he's going to play he needs to play everyday. As a baseball player, when people tell you this is your position and you're going to play everyday there that puts your confidence level up. It's hard when you come to the ballpark and you don't know if you're going to be in the lineup or where you're going to play. That's just me talking."
DRABEK PROMOTED TO BUFFALO
Right-hander Kyle Drabek, building up arm strength as he recovers from a second Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery, has been promoted to the Triple-A Bisons.
In 10 appearances, eight starts, at two minor league stops (Single-A Dunedin and Double-A New Hampshire,) Drabek has a 2.83 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings.
Drabek joins one-time Blue Jays' rotation mate Drew Hutchison with the Bisons. Hutchison, like Drabek, is recovering from Tommy John surgery and both are expected to return to the majors before the season ends.