Notes: Semien's hot start; Springer's status

April 8th, 2021

Marcus Semien’s transition onto this Blue Jays roster has been seamless, and through just one week of play, it’s easy to see why the Blue Jays viewed the veteran infielder as the perfect complement to this lineup.

Semien has looked right at home at second base, where he’s formed a double-play combination with Bo Bichette, but he’ll also act as Bichette’s backup at shortstop when the young star needs a day. His bat has always been the main attraction, though, looking back to his 33 home runs and .892 OPS in 2019.

He’s already launched three home runs over the first road trip, and it’s all about finding his sweet spot.

“I’m getting to the point where I’m able to see the ball up in the zone. That’s where my power is,” Semien said. “I try to lay off those pitches down in the dirt. That’s always a goal of every player, but sometimes it just takes slowing yourself down at the plate and staying within yourself and I was able to do that yesterday. Every series is a new challenge.”

When Semien struggled in 2020, hitting .223 with a .679 OPS over his 53 games, one factor that contributed may have been his lack of routine. Semien is known as someone who likes to be first to the ballpark -- he joked that his challenge is beating Randal Grichuk there these days -- and his routine is extensive. Baseball players are creatures of habit, so the 30-year-old feels he’s benefited from getting back to his usual long hours.

“Getting here early is something that’s important for me, just to get my body ready, get some food and prepare yourself for the day. I really do enjoy that process," Semien said. "I feel like we’re getting closer and closer to normalcy. We don’t know when that is yet.”

Springer dealing with quad injury

George Springer has a “low-grade quad strain,” Charlie Montoyo said Thursday. Springer is already dealing with a left quad strain, but injured his quad on Tuesday running the bases down in Texas while rehabbing. Montoyo added that he doesn’t expect to see Springer in this homestand, which stretches seven games in Dunedin.

“He can still do stuff, we’ve just got to be careful,” Montoyo said. “If you’re not careful, it can go from a low grade to really bad. Of course, we’re going to be careful. It’s going to be up to him what he can do, day to day.”

Pearson throws bullpen session

No. 1 prospect Nate Pearson (right adductor strain) threw a bullpen session on Thursday, which is a good step in his progress. The big right-hander still has a fairly long road ahead of him, though, given that he needs to build back up as a starter before returning.

 “There’s no sense rushing him, so he’s almost got to go through a regular Spring Training,” Montoyo said. “We’ve got to build him up, of course. We’ve got to build him up slowly and at his own pace, just like another Spring Training.”

Ray nearing return

Robbie Ray (left elbow contusion) threw a long bullpen session on Wednesday and came out of it feeling good, so his return could be on the horizon for the Blue Jays, potentially as early as this homestand. Ray looked great in Spring Training, pitching to a 1.96 ERA in Grapefruit League play.