Blue Jays can’t afford to have Donaldson down for long

Apr 9, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) looks on while at bat during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 9, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson (20) looks on while at bat during the third inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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Things couldn’t have gone a lot worse for the Blue Jays on Thursday night, dropping their 6th straight to move to 1-8, and losing their star player to injury in the process.

You’ll have to forgive Blue Jays fans if they’re in a bit of a funk to start the MLB season. After a offseason spent speculating who would return and if the club would contend, only to see things work out like this in the first 9 games has been, well, disappointing to say the least.

This wasn’t supposed to be the way things went to start the year, especially after a spring training that left fans with plenty to get excited about. The club even entered the season with relative health, as Roberto Osuna was the only key piece to begin the season on the DL. Everything was looking set up for a solid start for the Blue Jays, who haven’t won more than 11 games in the month of April in either 2015 or 2016, their last two playoff appearances.

Some of that hopeful enthusiasm has already worn off, and it’s not just the team record being the culprit. Osuna has managed to return to the lineup, but J.P. Howell has replaced him on the DL, strengthening and weakening the bullpen almost simultaneously. And as we all know by now, Josh Donaldson is almost certain to join Howell on the team’s DL list, we just don’t know for how long.

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Donaldson’s injury comes at the worst time for the struggling club, as they’re in desperate need of offence, a skill that Donaldson and his 2015 MVP Award obviously flourish at. Even though he only played 6 innings on Thursday night, Donaldson was responsible for the lone RBI, knocking in Jose Bautista on his RBI double before limping off the field with the training staff helping him off.

We don’t know how long Donaldson will be down this time, but he’s almost certainly headed to the DL, with more information expected on Friday morning at some point. As badly as the Blue Jays need him back, they also need to rest him in order to get him healthy enough to actually stay on the field when he returns this time. In hindsight, it was obviously a mistake to have him out there, even as the designated hitter.

For now, they’re going to have to rely on the likes of Darwin Barney, Ryan Goins, and maybe even Steve Pearce to play third base in his absence. Pearce is an unlikely candidate, but depending on how long Donaldson is out, he does have some experience there and could present an additional option.

On offence, this will be an early test for the likes of Troy Tulowitzki, and the struggling Bautista and Russell Martin. The Blue Jays have enough offensive talent to weather the storm of one injury, but not at a time when the team is performing like this.

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The veteran laden group will need to wake up, or the season could be lost before Donaldson even makes it back to the lineup.

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