Blue Jays injury news: Michael Saunders expected to rejoin team on Friday
It seems like there is some good news in the air for the Toronto Blue Jays. Manager John Gibbons announced to the assembled media on Tuesday that outfielder Michael Saunders will likely be recalled from his rehab assignment and rejoin the team in Tampa Bay on Friday.
Sanuders, who has been on the disabled list since tearing a tendon in his knee on the third day of spring training, has been rehabilitating the injury with Single-A Dunedin. He started the assignment on April 11th, but was forced to shut down for a few days due to a tight hamstring. However, he returned to action on Sunday night, going 0 for 4 against Brevard County. As noted by Brendan Kennedy of the Toronto Star above, the plan is for Saunders to play a full 9-innings in the outfield and then determine his status from there. If all is good, he’ll make a quick trip from Dunedin to Tampa for his Blue Jays debut.
The Blue Jays acquired the Victoria, British Columbia native in a December 3rd trade that sent starter J.A. Happ to the Seattle Mariners. The hope was that Saunders would solidify their outfield situation and become the team’s everyday left fielder. However, the knee injury derailed those plans and he has yet to play an inning for the Blue Jays, either in spring training or in the regular season.
That injury opened the door for Kevin Pillar, who has made quite the case for himself in terms of playing time, making nightly highlight reel catches and seemingly finding his bat. However, a recent slump has knocked the outfielder down to .240/.255/.360 in 51 plate appearances. However, while his bat has slid, Pillar’s defense has been exemplary. The outfielder has put up an amazing 4 Defensive Runs Saved already in 2015.
The addition of Saunders will certainly cut into Pillar’s playing time, with the right-handed hitter likely being relegated to platoon duty in center field with rookie Dalton Pompey. Additionally, the Blue Jays will need to make a roster move to clear space for Saunders on the 25-man roster. Steve Tolleson seems the most likely to be cut, although a lot of that relies on the health of Devon Travis, who suffered a bruised rib on Sunday. Of course, Ryan Goins could also be sent down and has options available but is more valuable defensively than Tolleson.
Michael Saunders is a career .231/.301/.384 hitter with 51 career home runs in 553 games for the Mariners. Toronto is hoping that the friendly hitting environment of Rogers Centre is the key to opening up his bat.
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