While it’s been great for the Blue Jays to have George Springer back in the lineup, they need to be extremely careful if he’s not fully healthy.
That seems like a pretty obvious statement, especially as they let him take his time recovering from a pair of injuries to start the season. And yet, over the last few games the 31-year-old has been in the lineup at a time when he’s clearly not at 100%, and I’m not sure it’s worth the risk. Obviously Springer has already shown he can make an impact even when he’s not at full strength, evidenced by the pair of home runs he hit on Saturday that included one at 470 feet. However, putting him in the lineup when he’s physically compromised is a gamble, any way you look at it.
I understand that at some point you have to test an injury like a pesky quad problem, and even before Sunday’s broadcast the television crew talked about how Springer believed his problems were mostly mental at this stage. However, when he had to come out of yesterday’s game due to a reported “fatigue”, I think it’s more than fair to question whether something more is going on, and whether it’s wise to keep rolling him out there this week.
I hate to say that given the boost that the 3x All-Star has already provided the Blue Jays. He makes the lineup more dangerous, longer, and just generally more imposing. Now that Springer and Teoscar Hernandez have returned this finally looks and feels like the group that we spent a few months dreaming about, and the results came right away with a three-game sweet of Atlanta. As fun as that’s been, the Blue Jays still have to think about the long-term here, especially with Springer’s health.
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It’ll be frustrating if he has to miss any or even all of the upcoming road trip, which starts with four games against A’s in Oakland, a three-game set against the Astros in Houston, and then a three-game rematch with the Braves back in Atlanta. However, if taking a step back for a few days, or even another week or two is what it takes so Springer can play at full throttle for the rest of the season, then so be it.
To be honest, I’m pretty surprised the Blue Jays are playing with fire at all when it comes to their new star player’s health. This is a roster that’s been devastated by injuries over the first 26 games of the regular season, arguably highlighted by Springer missing the first 22. Perhaps the veteran has been pushing hard to return, and without prior experience working with him,the coaching staff is going to lean on the player for help determining if they’re ready. Even then though, it’s peculiar that they’re risking the potential for further injury and even more missed time, especially with their new 150 million dollar man.
My guess is they’ll slow things down in the early part of this week, and perhaps we’ll learn a little more here on Monday once Springer gets a chance to see how he feels in the morning, and maybe he’ll even undergo some tests. The Blue Jays insisted after the game that Springer was removed because of “fatigue” and not because of further injury concerns, but we’ll see if that turns out to be true as the week goes on. I can’t help but agree with Gregor Chisholm of the Toronto Star, who asked a fair question in his article from Sunday:
"“But it’s also hard to understand how Springer’s leg could be healthy enough to run the bases, yet not healthy enough to play centre. Orchestrated plans to have Springer not run out groundballs at full speed might seem like a safe compromise until he catches his cleat coming out of the box like he did Saturday night.”"
I sincerely hope that Springer was removed out of an abundance of caution on Sunday, but in a tight game with the Braves, I’m not sure that’s a great sign. And if he’s not ready to serve in a DH-only capacity right now, then perhaps the Blue Jays will have to make the tough decision to shut him down again until he’s fully ready to go.
After being so patient for the first month of the season, there’s no sense throwing it all out the window now.