What a difference a day can make.
Manager Charlie Montoyo said after the game that Springer was simply feeling fatigued, and that the team chose to exercise extreme caution. His removal briefly overshadowed the Blue Jays sweeping Atlanta to move to 14-12, scoring 26 runs in three games, but Montoyo doesn’t believe that Springer has reaggravated his right quad injury.
"He was fatigued. It was hot today, and [playing] three days in a row swinging the bat, he felt fatigued,” Montoyo explained. “Of course, we’re going to be careful with him and that’s why we decided to take him out. It was the best thing for him today.”
Springer was playing in just his fourth game since returning from a right quad strain that kept him out through the bulk of April, and appeared to grab at his quad while crossing first base on a groundout Saturday. Though he said that incident was no cause for concern afterward, Springer’s at-bats on Sunday included two strikeouts and a groundout, in which he slipped coming out of the box and didn’t look particularly comfortable going up the line.
How the Blue Jays handle Springer moving forward remains to be seen, especially with 12 games in 13 days beginning with a west coast trip for four games against the A’s, starting Monday. Springer hasn’t played the field yet, and if he’s leaving a game with fatigue as a DH that suggests he’s not about to grab a glove tomorrow or the next day.
“We’re going to manage his load and his work, but we have to communicate,” Montoyo said. “We have to talk to him. If he feels like he needs a day off, we’re going to give it to him. That’s why he’s been at DH -- we’re being careful.”
The Blue Jays’ season has been an exercise in finding silver linings, though, as Toronto has battled through injury after injury. On Sunday, it was finally Danny Jansen’s turn to chip in offensively.
Entering the series finale against Atlanta, Jansen was riding an 0-for-35 slump, tied for the longest hitless streak in Blue Jays history, and was at risk of losing playing time to Alejandro Kirk. A few hours later, after Kirk was placed on the 10-day IL, Jansen drove an RBI single back up the middle, his first of two hits on the day, along with a walk.
“It feels great, just a big sigh of relief,” Jansen said. “I’ve been putting the ball in play the last few games, but it’s nice to see some drop, and go the other way a little bit too, which is nice. I was just staying within myself, and I’ve believed in myself this whole time. It’s just nice and joyful to get that.”
Marcus Semien also came up big for the Blue Jays, ripping a two-run double into the left-field corner to put Toronto ahead early. He then launched a towering two-run shot to left field in the eighth to give the Blue Jays some insurance. Semien went through a cold stretch in mid-April, but now has hits in seven of his last eight games and looks much more comfortable at the plate.
Add in multi-hit games from Randal Grichuk and Bo Bichette, and this lineup is finally evolving into the deep, dangerous group we all expected. So much of April was spent leaning on Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Bichette to do it all on a nightly basis, and it was the club’s pitching that surprisingly kept them afloat. This lineup will always be Toronto’s greatest strength when it’s clicking, though, and with Springer and Teoscar Hernández back, it’s a treat for the manager to write out each day.
“I talk about this all the time, how it stretches the lineup out when you add two more good hitters,” Montoyo said. “Now, the guys come down the line and it stretches out. That’s what they did. You don’t expect it because they haven’t played in a long time, but both of their at-bats have been outstanding. It makes the team a lot better.”
Toronto had some individual statements through April, but there weren’t many full-team efforts that qualified as a “statement game.” This sweep of the Braves certainly counts, though, and as long as Springer has avoided any sort of setback with his quad, the Blue Jays should only gain more momentum from here.