When the Blue Jays watched George Springer go down with an injury on Saturday it felt like the season flashed before our very eyes.
The good news is that Springer’s ankle injury, that looked like it could be quite serious at the time, may not be as bad as initially feared. If that’s the case then the Blue Jays may have just caught a huge break.
It’s obviously not great news to have one of their best players at anything less than 100%, but Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling tweeted after the game that Springer’s x-rays had come back negative and he’s currently considered day to day.
The timing of seeing the 3x time All-Star limping off the field couldn’t have been a lot worse for the Jays as they try to fight their way back into a playoff spot. They had dropped two in a row (three after losing their second straight to Seattle), and lost another game on the Red Sox, Yankees, and A’s, who all won on Saturday and all of whom the Jays are chasing in the Wild Card standings. Now is not the time to lose one of your most dangerous weapons.
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The 31 year old has provided a big spark for the team since his return to the lineup, as the Blue Jays are now 29-20 in games he’s played compared to 33-34 when he’s been on the sidelines. He’s slashed .269/.362/.610 with 16 home runs and 35 over just 182 at-bats across 49 games, and his presence has been even more significant as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has cooled off. It’s also pretty clear that Springer is feeling comfortable in the dugout with his new teammates, and he’s looked like his old self in the batter’s box as well.
As much as Springer’s loss for any amount of time will hurt the Blue Jays, they are reasonably well set up to cover for his absence, something they got used to earlier in the year. Randal Grichuk will likely slide back to centre field on a full-time basis until Springer is back in the lineup, and they’ll use a combination of Teoscar Hernandez, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., and Corey Dickerson to cover the corner outfield spots, and likely the majority of at-bats as the designated hitter. Cavan Biggio could make his return from the IL sooner than later as well, and he could potentially factor into the corners too.
As important as Springer is to the Blue Jays’ success, this group is going to have to find a way to stay in the race without him, at least for a little while. That said, they can’t view it as a situation where they tread water until he returns. Thankfully the update after the game gives us reason to hope that Springer can return without an extended delay, and what felt like a death blow on Saturday night might be more of a gut punch now, still not easy to recover from, but hardly the end of the fight.