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Blue Jays activate Belt (back) from IL

Brandon Belt Toronto Blue Jays Brandon Belt - The Canadian Press

TORONTO — Brandon Belt is back in the Blue Jays' lineup in time for Toronto's final post-season push.

The veteran first baseman and designated hitter was reinstated from the Blue Jays' 10-day injured list on Tuesday. He was immediately inserted into Toronto's lineup, hitting sixth in a critical game against the visiting New York Yankees.

"Patience, power, good approach against right-handed pitching," said Blue Jays manager John Schneider on what Belt brings to the team.

Right-handed pitcher Michael King started for New York against Toronto and Schneider wanted to match Belt up against the Yankees' hurler.

"I think since probably May (Belt) has been as consistent as anybody when it comes to hitting right-handed pitching," said Schneider. "So excited to have him back and just kind of the quality at bat that he brings."

Belt was out with lumbar spine muscle spasms. The 35-year-old was hitting .251 this season with 16 home runs but sports a solid .369 on-base percentage before going down with a sore back.

Schneider said he was glad to have Belt back in the dugout for a six-game homestand that will determine Toronto's post-season fate. The Blue Jays entered Tuesday's game holding the American League's second wild card spot, with the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners chasing them.

Belt won two World Series with the San Francisco Giants and, although he stayed in Toronto while he was on the injured list, can be an important voice during games now that he's been reinstated.

"The conversations with (Belt and outfielder George Springer) definitely help," said Schneider. "It's not letting anything get too big, too fast and doing the things that you're good at.

"He's been preaching that all year so it's nice to have him back right now."

Right-handed reliever Jay Jackson was also recalled from triple-A Buffalo by the Blue Jays ahead of the critical game against the visiting Yankees.

Infielder Spencer Horwitz and hard-throwing righty Nate Pearson were sent to the Florida Complex League in corresponding moves. Normally they would be sent to the triple-A Buffalo Bisons but, as the triple-A season is over, the FCL was the next-best option.

Jackson (3-1) has a 2.36 earned-run average with 25 strikeouts over 26 2/3 innings pitched for Toronto.

Pearson (5-2) has a 4.85 ERA over 42 2/3 innings with 43 strikeouts and a save.

Horwitz is hitting .256 with a home run and seven runs batted in his first 15 Major League Baseball games.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 26, 2023.