Jansen fractures right wrist bone, out at least 2 weeks

March 15th, 2024

DUNEDIN, FLA. -- The Blue Jays got some bad news Friday that sounds all too similar to news we’ve heard before. has a fractured pisiform bone in his right wrist and will miss at least a couple of weeks.

Jansen’s history with hand injuries was already something that he and the organization were trying to escape. Teammates have joked for years now that Jansen needs to be fitted for body armor, turning him into Toronto’s own Iron Man, but it’s happened again.

In late 2023, Jansen fractured his right middle finger when he was struck by a foul tip, and in ‘22, he fractured the fifth metacarpal on his left hand when he was hit by a pitch. This is all on top of multiple hand injuries when Jansen was in the Minor Leagues.

“He’s getting good at dealing with it, for sure,” manager John Schneider said. “Some of it is luck, some of it is where he is in the box and the way his swing operates, which he is aware of. Hopefully we can get him back quickly and get some padding on that hand, not just the left one, but the right one.”

The pitch that hit Jansen this time, a 93.4-mph fastball from the Pirates’ Carmen Mlodzinski, struck Jansen on the inside of his right wrist as he started to check his swing. The pisiform bone is very small and sits where the hand meets the wrist underneath the pinky finger. There are worse bones to break -- and Jansen has broken a few of them -- so Schneider feels the Blue Jays have dodged a bullet here in some ways.

It’s difficult to find a silver lining for Jansen, though, who is entering his free-agent year and is one of the most important players in this organization. Beyond his work with the Blue Jays’ pitching staff and the respect he’s earned in the clubhouse over a decade-plus in the organization, Jansen represents the power potential the Blue Jays need.

Over Jansen’s past two seasons, both shortened by injuries, he’s hit .242 with 32 home runs and an .817 OPS. The pull-power identity he’s embraced in recent years has turned Jansen into one of baseball’s best offensive catchers if he’s healthy, but unfortunately, this is another reminder of why that “if” is always included. Like Schneider alluded to, Jansen will need to be conscious of how exposed he leaves himself on swings, but he’s also spoken about the risks of recurring hand injuries behind the plate.

“I’ve spoken to people about hand placement,” Jansen said early in camp. “With nobody on base, you can really hide it and get it tucked behind to protect yourself the best you can. With guys on base, it’s kind of like, ‘Am I ready to do my job?’ There’s not really a great place for it, because you have to be ready. I thought that was obviously awful luck. That’s my goal, for the luck to change around, but I’m still experimenting on different placements. As long as I’m able to do my job, it’s a risk-reward type of thing.”

From here, Alejandro Kirk will be thrust into a full-time starting role, just like he was down the stretch in 2023. Both Brian Serven and Payton Henry have produced in spring games, leaving the Blue Jays with a decision to make at backup catcher before Opening Day, and each would require a corresponding move on the 40-man roster.

Whether this stretches a week or two into the season or longer, the Blue Jays need Kirk to not only manage the pitching staff, but to provide more than his .692 OPS from a year ago.

“We’re very lucky to have both of those guys as 1A and 1B,” Schneider said. “We’ll build Kirk up regularly. The only difference is when we’re looking at the regular season schedule a little bit and who we’re playing, obviously, with who’s going to be on the mound, what time the games are, when the off-days are.”

The coming days should provide a clearer timeline for Jansen’s return, but any disruption to the end of camp and a hitter’s timing at this point in the year is unwelcome. If anyone knows how to rehab from these hand injuries, it’s Jansen, but this is the last area a player wants to keep building experience in, year after year.