Blue Jays: Should Lourdes Gurriel Jr. even be playing right now?
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was caught trying to take third base last night, and his tentative base running makes me wonder if he should even be playing right now.
I was really hoping to see a healthy Lourdes Gurriel Jr. finish the season strong with the Blue Jays in 2019, coming off an extended stay on the Injured List due to a strained calf. He still may do just that, but last night’s performance had me wondering if he should even be on the field right now.
Gurriel Jr. was on first base when Vladimir Guerrero Jr. lifted a pop-up to short left-centre field, and his performance on the bases left a fair bit to be desired. First, he seemed to forget that there were two outs, as he hesitated after the ball was hit, and it looked like he was tagging up as if there was only one out. When he started moving he tried to go from first to third when the ball dropped, and unfortunately was picked off at third by a good throw from the outfield.
The problem wasn’t so much that he was called out, but that Gurriel Jr. was running very tentatively as he headed for third base. Part of that is by design of course, as the Blue Jays have instructed him not to push the vulnerable quad too much. However, seeing him in action leads me to a question that even Buck Martinez asked on last night’s broadcast:
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Should he even be playing now if that’s all he’s able to do?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that the win-loss record doesn’t matter right now, and I’m all for Gurriel Jr. having a chance to build some momentum going into the offseason. What I don’t want to see is a major setback for the talented left fielder, as it would be much better for him to spend the offseason resting and working on things rather than rehabbing an injury.
The Blue Jays have obviously determined that the risk is pretty minimal or they wouldn’t have him in the lineup at all, but I feel like anyone who watched the NBA Finals this year might be cringing as much as I am right now. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, Kevin Durant of the Golden State Warriors tried to come back before he was 100% healthy while rehabbing from a strained calf. Before the first half was over in his comeback game, he tore his Achilles tendon and will miss next season as a result.
Gurriel Jr’s quad injury isn’t the same as what Durant was dealing with when his injury problems compounded, but there’s an important lesson to heed there. When something isn’t right with your body then you’ll overcompensate in what way or another. Again, the Blue Jays must not feel that Gurriel Jr. is at risk of a serious injury, but it makes me wonder why they would risk it at all.
With a record of 60-91 and just 11 games left, it would be great to see Gurriel Jr. finish the season with his teammates and have a chance to big on a big year in his career. However, if that means risking losing him for any portion of next season, I’m not sure it’s worth the risk.