When Alex Anthopoulos decides to speak to Blue Jays nation, the Toronto fans tend to listen. Judging by what they heard on Tuesday afternoon, the news fell on welcoming ears.
In a media scrum with Toronto reporters (including MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm), the Blue Jays general manager touched on a number of topics near and dear to us all. Included in today’s topics were updates on the injuries to Brandon Morrow, Adam Lind, and Casey Janssen.
The biggest news was obviously the update on Morrow, who Anthopoulos noted would likely avoid surgery on the torn tendon sheath on his right index finger, an injury he suffered during his last start against Pittsburgh on Friday. By avoiding surgery, the likelihood that Morrow will return to throw another inning this season rises significantly. In fact, his healing time may be drastically shorter, as Anthopoulos noted:
“I think when they talked to us, they figured and guys told us, around the All-Star Break is when we can expect him back. So it was 8-to-10 weeks, whatever it was” (h/t Gregor Chisholm).
Considering how some members of the Toronto media, Richard Griffin included, were feeling that Morrow may have thrown his last pitch in a Blue Jays uniform, this paints a completely different picture. By returning near the All-Star break, Morrow still has a chance to show that he can contribute to this team and possibly entice the Blue Jays to pick up their team option for the 2015 season, worth a cool $10 million.
Adam Lind was also an important point of conversation for Anthopoulos. The first baseman/designated hitter has been on the disabled list since April 19th (retroactive to April 16th) with back stiffness, but has looked good swinging the bat in the first few days of his rehab assignment with Dunedin. In eight at-bats, Lind has three hits, including 2 doubles, and an RBI. For now, Anthopoulos says the plan is to play him for 9 innings on Wednesday and then activate him Thursday if everything responds correctly.
Of course the activation of Lind will impact other players on the roster, particularly Juan Francisco. Signed as a minor league free agent at the beginning of the season, Francisco has performed well since getting the call-up when Lind went down. In 59 plate appearances with the Blue Jays, Francisco owns a .280/.390/.520 slash-line with 3 home runs and 7 RBI while splitting time between the DH slot and 3rd base. That kind of performance hasn’t been lost on anyone, including Anthopoulos and manager John Gibbons.
“We’d like to keep Juan. He’s playing well and ideally you want to be able to hang on to him. I know Gibby is fond of him and rightfully so. He’s played well. (h/t Gregor Chisholm)”
How that works into the Blue Jays plans going forward, one can only guess, especially considering how his presence impacts the depth of the infield in other spots. Steve Tolleson could potentially be a roster casualty, but one would expect that the Blue Jays may finally beg off of the 8-man bullpen.
The final piece of good news was the status of closer Casey Janssen, who has yet to throw a pitch in 2014 after suffering a setback during his initial rehab assignment. The Blue Jays have not set a particular time-frame with Janssen yet, as they don’t want to repeat the injury suffered while rushing him through a shortened spring training. However, the plan is to throw him on back to back days on Saturday and Sunday, and then see where his progress is from there. If he’s strong, he could be activated early next week, which will help align the rest of the bullpen into their correct roles and hopefully add some stability into a suddenly shaky corps.
So, the good news is that both Lind and Janssen could be available to help the Jays in the near term, and Brandon Morrow could still be a key piece later this season. We just need to cross our fingers and hope that no one else goes down in the meantime.