August 8, 2012; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays first baseman David Cooper (30) runs around the bases after he hit a solo home run in the ninth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
On a day when a current Toronto Blue Jays player hits the disabled list, a former player who is all too familiar with the DL gets back into the game.
Former Blue Jays prospect David Cooper has signed a Minor League contract with the Cleveland Indians, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. The deal includes an out clause that can be exercised if Cooper is not added to the Major League roster by the end of August.
The signing was a curious one for Cooper, who experienced a back injury so severe that he was said to be considering retirement. It is also curious that the deal contains an out clause, considering Cooper has been out of organized baseball since being released by the Blue Jays on March 13th of this spring. He underwent back surgery in April and had a titanium plate and two titanium screws attached to his T7 and T8 vertabrae in order to reinforce his spine (h/t Wikipedia).
The signing also spurred some curiosity on Twitter.
And talent was never a problem for Cooper. A former 1st round pick of the Blue Jays (17th overall), Cooper was on the verge of competing for a job before the back injuries started to surface.
His career started to take off in 2009, when at Double-A New Hampshire he hit .258 with 10 home runs and 66 RBI. Cooper followed that up a year later with a second tour of New Hampshire, increasing his home run output to 20 in 2010 and knocking in 78.
In 2011, Cooper would get his first taste of the Major Leagues. After hitting .364 with a .974 OPS at Triple-A Las Vegas, the first baseman would appear in 27 games with Toronto, but hit only .211 with 2 home runs and 12 RBI. He would return to Las Vegas again in 2012 and hit .314 with a .935 OPS before again getting the call to Toronto.
This time, the results faired much better. Cooper would appear in 45 games in 2012 and receive 145 plate appearances, hitting an even .300 with 4 home runs, 11 RBI, and a .788 OPS. However, his season ended early when he was placed on the DL with the balky back.
Here’s to hoping that things work out for Cooper and he again returns to the Major Leagues.