Blue Jays: Hopefully not the same old sad story for Anthony Alford
Former Blue Jays outfielder Anthony Alford has been impressing in the Pirates’ spring camp, but bad luck caught up with the 26-year-old once again on Saturday.
Alford had been making a good enough impression on the Pirates that he was and maybe still is viewed as a leading contender for the centre fielder’s job in Pittsburgh, but he’ll have to stay healthy long enough to claim the gig. Just as injuries held him back from reaching his potential while in the Blue Jays organization, Alford continues to be snake-bitten with his new team. Unfortunately that continued on Saturday when he was hit on the right wrist by a 91 mile-per-hour fastball from Corey Kluber of the Yankees.
After breaking his elbow last year, at a time when he was also emerging and seemingly starting to finally put things together, it was less than ideal to see Alford hit the ground and be immediately removed from the game, and even more so as he slammed a helmet in frustration (can’t blame the guy).
According to the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and the comments they captured from the Pirates’ second baseman Adam Frazier, it might not have been as bad as it looked. Here’s hoping that’s the case.
"“First instinct was, ‘Not again.’ I think he showed more reaction to pain right there today than he did last year when he broke his elbow, but he said he’s all right so hopefully he is and it’s just a little bruise and he can get back out there, because he’s had a really strong start and he’s a really good player so we need him healthy, and I think he can get back out there in a couple days.”"
We have no idea how much insight Frazier actually had to the situation at the time, but it’s encouraging to hear his comments nonetheless. He’s also correct that Alford has had a solid spring showing, as he’s posted a slash line of .385/.467/.923 over 13 at-bats, including two home runs and four runs batted in. It’s a small sample size, but adding that production at the plate with some standout defensive plays, and it’s no surprise that he’s impressing his new coaching staff.
It’s been incredibly frustrating to be a fan of Alford’s and watch his career repeatedly stalled by injury, so I can’t begin to fathom how he feels about the situation. To his credit, he’s been resilient and he seems to be making the most of his opportunity in Pittsburgh, so hopefully this will be a minor set-back.
Mike Persak, the writer of the Post-Gazette article, said “there has been special excitement around outfielder Anthony Alford”, and Blue Jays fans can certainly understand why. His raw talent made him one of the top prospects in Toronto for several years, but the combination of injuries and lack of opportunities ultimately ended his time with the club.
I obviously can’t speak for the entire Blue Jays fan base, but I know I’m not alone in saying that I’m not surprised that his talent will likely carry him to a job with his new team. Sadly, it’s also not surprising that injuries are the major obstacle in his way once again. Hopefully Saturday ends up being just a blip on the Blue Jays’ 3rd round pick from back in 2012, even if his success has to come in Pittsburgh.