Notes: Biggio, Springer injury updates

Vlad Jr. continues to prepare to play third base if he's called upon

April 17th, 2021

TORONTO -- seems to have avoided a more serious injury after leaving Thursday’s game against the Royals with right hand pain, and manager Charlie Montoyo says he could return for Sunday's series finale.

Biggio was playing catch prior to Saturday’s doubleheader at Kauffman Stadium and, if that went well, the plan was to have him take batting practice. Santiago Espinal, who was added as the 27th man for the twin bill, started the first game of the doubleheader at third base, but another injury like this in the future could also introduce the possibility of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. seeing time at third base.

Guerrero hasn’t seen game action at third base since 2019, his rookie season, when he struggled defensively. The 22-year-old played the hot corner in winter ball this offseason, though, and saw time there through Spring Training. Guerrero is a first baseman, but the Blue Jays have always kept the door open at third base, especially in situations where short-term flexibility could benefit the roster.

“Every chance he gets, he goes there and takes ground balls, because he knows there’s always a chance -- even during a game -- that he could go there and play,” Montoyo said.

The focus recently for Guerrero has been on first base, and the first half of April has been an encouraging adventure. At times early in the season, Guerrero was too eager and dragged himself off the bag with aggressive stretches, but he’s controlled that enthusiasm more recently and made some impressive athletic plays, even dropping into the splits regularly.

Guerrero’s hands and feet are strong tools, so as long as he’s able to master some of the finer details and fundamentals of first base, he should put himself in position to save his fielders some errors. Situations like this could still pull Guerrero across the diamond to third base a handful of times through the season, but given how quickly he’s acclimating to first base, the Blue Jays could always turn to other options at third like Joe Panik.

Biggio entered the weekend hitting just .171 with 16 strikeouts through 12 games to go with three errors in the field. There have been some throws skipped in front of Guerrero, some of which he’s been able to save, but Biggio’s throwing arm across the diamond will be a key to watch as this season moves forward.

Springer progressing from quad injury

Blue Jays star outfielder George Springer is expected to take live batting practice in the coming days, Montoyo said. He’s also been doing some running drills as he continues to recover from a right quad strain sustained during his rehab from his initial injury this season, which was a left oblique strain.

When Springer makes his long awaited Blue Jays debut, it will shift this lineup into a much more natural look with him at the top. The club will play this carefully, though, knowing it’s more important to guarantee that its prized offseason addition is healthy for the heart of the season and the stretch run.

Bichette on injuries

If it’s up to Bo Bichette, he’d be out there for all 162 games. The young shortstop has already experienced injuries in his young career, though, and he’s now seeing them pile up around him, both in the lineup and the Blue Jays’ pitching staff.

It’s also tough to rattle Bichette, though. Unfortunate as it may be, Bichette knows that the team will have to make it work with its healthy players and hope that, along the way, their health balances out. As long as the Blue Jays can stay afloat through the worst of this, they know they have the talent to make up some ground through the summer.

“It’s a long season, so stuff like this is going to happen whether it’s in April or it’s in September,” Bichette said. “There are so many guys here who aren’t even in the clubhouse today who we believe can help us. We’re just focused on playing as hard as we can today, getting a win today, and then day by day we’ll figure it out.”