Blue Jays: In hindsight, what were they thinking with George Springer?

As George Springer continues to slowly progress toward a return, I can’t help but wonder why the Blue Jays thought he was ready to play at the end of April.

I realize it’s not a simple situation to break down, but now that we’ve got a bit of hindsight to add to the perspective it seems pretty ridiculous that Springer made his Blue Jays debut on April 28, and hasn’t been in the lineup again since May 2.

Just as we’ve been told for most of the year, at the end of April we were hearing that the 3x All-Star was close. Eventually the Blue Jays determined that he was near enough to game-ready that they’d introduce him to the lineup as the designated hitter, where he picked up 15 at-bats over the course of four games.

I can understand that they wanted to ease him back into the swing of a hectic MLB schedule, but it was the way that Springer returned to the Injured List that was so frustrating. On literally the first test of having to run near full speed out of the batter’s box, Springer was grabbing at his leg and clearly felt a tweak to the injury that had plagued him for most of the spring. We went through a few days of “is he hurt or not?”, and debates about the meaning of the word “fatigue” before the Blue Jays eventually had to acknowledge their mistake and send him back to the IL.

It’s been more than a month since that all went down, and these days we’re still hearing the same “he’s close” story. On Sunday morning Sportsnet’s Ben Wagner posted a video of Springer running the bases, which is obviously an encouraging sign. That said, I would estimate that he’s maybe running at 75-80% in the short clip, and the Blue Jays have been very non-committal about a return date for the 31-year-old.

To be fair, Springer has dealt with some of the trickier injuries for baseball players to recover from. First it was an oblique injury that clouded the start of his big contract with a new team, and then came the quad injury, which is what is keeping him from the field at the moment. This time around the Jays seem to understand that rushing him back in any way could cause further problems, especially given how quickly you can experience a setback with something like a quad.

What’s done is done so I’m not going to get too upset about it, but I’m glad to see that Springer and the Blue Jays are taking a far more patient approach this time. I called for as much back in early May when he had to sit down again, but if I’m being honest, I didn’t think it would take this long for him to return either. Now that it has, it makes it seem all the more baffling that he was in the lineup at all at the end of April.

That said, if that’s what it takes to get Springer all the way back to healthy, then so be it. The Blue Jays have managed pretty well in his absence, thanks in large part to Randal Grichuk playing so well as the regular centre fielder, and they’re sitting at 30-27 after dropping Sunday’s rubber match against the Houston Astros. I can’t help but wonder where this team would be sitting if Springer hadn’t tried to rush back, and I look forward to seeing the kind of impact he can make when he’s healthy.