Blue Jays: George Springer proves patience will still be crucial
George Springer hit two home runs on Saturday night and showed Blue Jays fans the value he can bring to the lineup, and also that patience may still be necessary,
On the bright side the 31-year-old hit his first two home runs with his new team, and was a big reason why the Jays ultimately prevailed in extra innings against the Atlanta Braves. Not only does his dangerous bat strengthen the Blue Jays lineup, but his presence also gives them a lot more length, and another level of production.
On the downside, we were reminded that Springer isn’t quite 100% healthy, even if he found a way to make a big impact in the game. In his 2nd at-bat the veteran beat a ground ball into the dirt to shortstop and attempted to leg out a single. Just as he crossed his base it looked like he grabbed at his leg a bit, which has been one of the injuries that has limited his availability in 2021. Thankfully he was able to stay in the game and even hit his second home run after the concerning moment, but it’s not as if it’s a moment that the 3x All-Star will be able to shake off.
That was clear in the 10th inning when Santiago Espinal came in to pinch run for Springer due to the extra-inning rule that starts the last out from the 9th on 2nd base. Springer was the third out in the previous inning and should have been that baserunner, but to be on the safe side Charlie Montoyo wisely elected to bring Espinal in to run instead. It wouldn’t have been ideal if Springer came up to bat again later in extra innings, but this time it turned out to be the right decision from the third year skipper.
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While it was encouraging that Springer was able to stay in the game until he was asked to run in extras, it’s also clear that it’s going to be a little while longer before he’ll be available to play defence in centre field. Running has been the biggest concern as he’s worked his way back from injury, and he’d need to ramp things up in order to properly cover his territory in the outfield. Even as he moved around the bases while jogging out his home runs, the two-time Silver Slugger award winner didn’t look like he was moving freely.
As for when he might be able to contribute with the glove, he was asked about it by Sportsnet’s Arash Madani during the post-game show on Saturday. Madani asked if Springer had an idea of when he might be able to return to the outfield or if it was still a day-to-day situation, and the former Houston Astro didn’t sound terribly optimistic.
"“It’s exactly that (referring to the day-to-day status) I’m going to have these conversations with Charlie here in the next few days, or you know, whenever that is, and I’ll go from there.”"
What really stuck out to me about everything he said in the interview was this statement. It was pretty obvious that Springer knows he that this won’t happen in the immediate term, and it might be delayed even further if he did in fact feel some tightness on Saturday night as it appeared.
Hopefully that won’t translate to another absence or anything, because even as a designated hitter only Springer showed he can make a big impact on the game. His presence alone changes the dynamic of the lineup, but when you add production like the multi-homer game he provided against Atlanta, it makes a fair bit of sense why the Blue Jays made signing him a priority over the winter, even if he haven’t even seen him at his best yet.
Don’t be alarmed if the veteran takes Sunday’s game off as a day of rest, especially with an early start after a night game on Saturday. That said, hopefully he can continue to appear in the lineup as the DH, and eventually make his return to the outfield as well. Unfortunately, it looks like we’re going to have to be patient for a while longer before that happens.