Blue Jays: Teoscar Hernandez’s return the spark that’s needed

Apr 11, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Teoscar Hernandez (37) celebrates after defeating the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Teoscar Hernandez (37) celebrates after defeating the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Blue Jays may be on the verge of getting an important piece of their offence back, as Teoscar Hernandez is close to a return from a stint on the Injured List.

Hernandez injured his oblique on a swing during a game against the Yankees on April 13th, and at the time it was hard to know how long the slugger would be on the sidelines. The scene wasn’t a pretty one, and oblique injuries can be very tricky, so personally I was worried that he’d be out for a while.

The two-time All-Star has been a quick healer so far in his MLB career, and that proved to be the case once again. He made his return to the diamond on a rehab assignment in Dunedin last night, going 2-4 with a home run and a double, and giving the Blue Jays hope that he’ll be back with the big league club before the end of the week. As they mentioned on the broadcast last night, if all goes according to plan then Hernandez will be back in time for the start of their series with Cleveland that begins on Thursday.

While the Blue Jays can’t expect Hernandez to carry their dormant offence on his own, there’s no doubt that his presence will make an impact. He’s quietly become one of the most dangerous hitters in the American League over the last few seasons and having him on the active roster gives the Blue Jays a chance to really lengthen the lineup. It likely pushes guys like Raimel Tapia and Bradley Zimmer back to more part-time roles, and with all due respect to Lourdes Gurriel Jr., adds some significant protection in the order for Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

In addition to just making the lineup a little longer, hopefully Hernandez can provide a spark that can get the rest of his teammates going too. They’ve scored just eight runs over their last four games, and have really struggled to hit with runners in scoring position in particular. Guerrero Jr. has cooled off after a red-hot start to the season, and Bo Bichette has yet to really find his groove at the plate, although there have been signs that he’s ready to break out over the last couple of games.

While it’s less than ideal that the Blue Jays have dropped the first two games of their series with the Yankees, they’ll have one more chance to take a win against their division rival in the third and final game on Wednesday. From there they’ll hit the road for Cleveland, and hopefully Hernandez will jump back into the lineup for their four-game set with the Guardians. In a perfect world, that will give the Blue Jays the time they need to turn the offence around, and hopefully they’ll start to reach their potential just in time for a trip to Yankee Stadium.

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One player doesn’t and really can’t break a team, but a star like Hernandez can make a difference with his own production, and his return can hopefully provide the spark this scuffling offence could use right now. So often in baseball it feels like hitting is contagious, and thankfully the Blue Jays are on the verge of getting one of their best with the bat back in the lineup later this week.