Toronto Blue Jays News

Blue Jays send Kevin Pillar to the DL, Ceciliani up

Aug 6, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar (11) safely steals second base against Kansas City Royals second baseman Raul Mondesi (27) in the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 6, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Toronto Blue Jays center fielder Kevin Pillar (11) safely steals second base against Kansas City Royals second baseman Raul Mondesi (27) in the seventh inning at Kauffman Stadium. Kansas City won 4-2. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports /
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Despite early reports that he may return to the lineup as soon as Monday, Kevin Pillar has been placed on the DL

On Monday the Blue Jays announced that they were sending centre-fielder Kevin Pillar to the 15 day DL. Pillar jammed his left thumb during Saturday’s game against the Kansas City Royals while attempting to steal second base.

Pillar has played in 109 of the Blue Jays’ 112 games thus far this season, and wasn’t expected to hit the DL with the thumb sprain. However, after sitting out Sunday’s game, the Blue Jays decided Pillar and the club may be best served if he were to let his body properly heal.

For the season Pillar has hit for a line of .261/.292/.385, with 27 doubles, 7 home runs, 45 RBI’s and 10 stolen bases in 15 attempts. The 27 year old has also provided Gold Glove calibre defence in centre again in 2016, after being narrowly beaten out by Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Kevin Kiermaier last year for the award.

If this had happened earlier in the season it’s entirely possible the Blue Jays would have allowed Pillar to play through the injury. The Blue Jays called up outfielder Darrell Ceciliani from triple-A Buffalo to take Pillar’s place on the roster, but they also have Melvin Upton Jr. ready to take over in centre field. Upton was acquired from the San Diego Padres in the final week before the August 1st non-waiver deadline, in part because of the defensive upside he brings with him.

Upton has hit a combined .245/.291/.412 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI with the Padres and Blue Jays this season. While he’s not quite the vacuum in centre he was a few years ago, the 31 year old is still an above average defender, and provides valuable insurance against Pillar’s injury. Pillar admitted on Monday to being “banged up everywhere anyway”, so it’s possible the Jays felt their best move was to allow him to get totally healthy for the final month of the pennant race.

While it’s never good news to lose a defender of Pillar’s calibre, this could be a blessing in disguise is Upton can take advantage of getting regular at bats. Since arriving in Toronto, Upton has only hit .125/.152/.125 in over 32 at bats. While the sample size is small enough it’s not worthy of panic, Upton has struck out an alarming 14 times against just 4 hits and 1 walk, so the opportunity to find a groove will likely be welcomed.

The 2nd overall pick in the 2002 draft is a career .244/.322/.402 hitter over his 12 year career with the Rays, Atlanta Braves, Padres, and Blue Jays. The Blue Jays acquired him in exchange for Hansel Rodriguez, a right-handed pitcher working in Rookie ball this season.

Next: Since All-Star break: Martin up, Saunders down

Cecilliani is in the lineup for Monday’s game, batting 7th and playing left field. Upton is covering centre field while Michael Saunders gets a partial night off, starting at DH.

The Blue Jays begin a series at home against the Tampa Bay Rays, sending R.A. Dickey (8-12, 4.49) to the hill against Jake Odorizzi (6-6, 3.70)

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