TORONTO — As the Toronto Blue Jays desperately try to hang on in the American League wild-card race, they could be getting a key bat back earlier than originally expected.
Despite landing on the 10-day IL with a grade 1 sprain of his left knee just last week, George Springer’s recovery has the Jays cautiously optimistic their star centre fielder will be back in the lineup sooner rather than later.
Prior to Monday’s series opener against the Chicago White Sox, the 31-year-old faced Joakim Soria in a live BP setting on the field at Rogers Centre and also ran some sprints in the outfield, testing a left knee that was sporting a bulky brace.
Manager Charlie Montoyo is holding out hope Springer will be available not long after he’s first eligible to come off the injured list Wednesday, but there’s no official timeline.
Springer, who was one of the hottest hitters in baseball at the time of his injury with a 1.133 OPS and 11 homers in 29 games since the all-star break, is day-to-day at this point.
“He feels really good, which is a great sign,” Montoyo said. “You can see the smile — that means he feels good.
“He’s going to be day-to-day, which is great that he’s at that spot and feels that good. We’ll see how he comes out of today and how he feels tomorrow and we’ll go from there.”
Getting Springer back will obviously help an offence that’s struggling overall, and still failing to come up with key hits.
In their series loss to the Detroit Tigers over the weekend, Jays bats managed just one hit in 31 trips to the plate with runners in scoring position.
THINGS I PROBABLY TWEETED
Picked in the Rule 5 draft as a teenager back in 2018, the Elvis Luciano experiment came to an end Monday as the Jays released the 21-year-old right-hander. Oddly, Luciano’s numbers on the season weren’t overly poor with a 3.41 ERA across 11 starts at Double-A, but his command had not taken the steps forward that the club had been hoping for … Cavan Biggio continues to endure a nightmare season and is now having his left elbow evaluated after diving for a ball Friday at Triple-A. Biggio, who was trying to return from a nagging muscle issue in his neck/back, is batting just .121 during his 10-game stint at Triple-A … It’s very clear at this point that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is a physically — and maybe mentally — exhausted player at the tail end of his age-22 season. Since the calendar flipped to August, Vladdy is slashing just .225/.319/.350 with three homers in 20 games. During that time, his average has dropped from .328 to .309 heading into play Monday.
STAT DIG: .819 OPS
Even though they’ve called three different venues and cities home this season, the Jays have been absolutely raking when they bat last.
Jays hitters lead the American League in home OPS at .819, home slugging percentage at .482 and runs per game at home at 5.53.
Those numbers looked even better before they were held to a total of seven runs by Detroit over the weekend.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“He’s played Gold Glove-calibre second base, he just made an error on that one. We made all the right moves, we were in the game, but it’s obvious we’re not swinging the bats when our pitching is giving us a chance.”
—Charlie Montoyo on Marcus Semien’s game-changing error Sunday
THE CALL-UP LIST
Five players closest to a promotion to the big leagues when a need arises:
1—RHP Nate Pearson, Triple-A: Pearson doesn’t need much more fine-tuning time in the minors, but after giving up a solo homer Sunday and throwing just nine of 18 pitches for strikes in his third appearance with the Buffalo Bisons since returning from a sports hernia, the big right-hander might get another outing or two before being summoned.
2—RHP Thomas Hatch, Triple-A: Hatch has been solid at the Triple-A level this season, posting a 3.33 ERA across 51.1 innings thus far. The Jays are keeping him stretched out as a starter, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him shifted to the bullpen in September if the big club needs help.
3—LHP Ryan Borucki, Triple-A: The lefty has recorded three scoreless outings since he was optioned earlier this month.
4—RHP AJ Cole, Triple-A: On the 60-day IL with an oblique injury, Cole threw a scoreless inning in his first Triple-A rehab appearance on Friday.
5—RHP Carl Edwards Jr., Triple-A: Also on the 60-day IL with an oblique injury, the righty has now made two rehab appearances with the Bisons, spinning a scoreless frame in his most recent outing Friday.