TORONTO -- The Blue Jays lost a couple of outfielders to the disabled list this week, but they got one back on Friday night with the return of Steve Pearce, and it did not take him very long to make an impact.Pearce hit a solo homer, but it wasn't nearly
TORONTO -- The Blue Jays lost a couple of outfielders to the disabled list this week, but they got one back on Friday night with the return of Steve Pearce, and it did not take him very long to make an impact.
Pearce hit a solo homer, but it wasn't nearly enough to avoid an 11-4 loss to the White Sox. But in the grand scheme of things, it's still an important development for a team trying to figure things out in left field.
The 34-year-old Pearce went 1-for-2 with a walk to go with his fifth home run of the season. His previously strained right calf muscle was tested in the outfield with a couple of running plays, and Pearce showed no lingering effects from the ailment which kept him out a month.
"He hit the home run, that was a good sign," manager John Gibbons said of Pearce, whose spot on the roster opened up when Chris Coghlan was placed on the 10-day DL with a contusion on his left wrist. "He had some at-bats down in the Minor Leagues, but not a lot of them. I thought he looked good in there."
Pearce had a successful return to the field, but he won't play every day right out of the gate. He's expected to sit on Saturday afternoon, but he'll still receive the majority of the at-bats in left field, with outfielder John Smith occasionally taking over against right-handed pitchers.
Pearce, a Florida native, was signed to a two-year deal during the offseason because of his offense. He initially was expected to split time with Justin Smoak at first base and occasionally start in left field, but the plan has since changed. Smoak, who also homered on Friday night, has established himself as a potential All-Star at first while Toronto has gone through a rotating cast in left.
Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Smoak and other #ASGWorthy players
The Blue Jays hope Pearce will seize the opportunity for regular playing time. He isn't known for his glove in left, but then again, neither were Ezequiel Carrera and Coghlan. The Blue Jays should be able to get at least equal production with the glove, and Pearce's career .767 OPS over 11 seasons in the big leagues means he should be able to provide more power.
"I feel back to normal," Pearce said. "I'm glad to be back ... It's definitely fun to get hits, but there was a process. I was down there and I knew what I was down there for. I got my at-bats, saw my pitches and I'm ready."
Coghlan's injury previously had not been disclosed by the club, but Gibbons said it dates to a series against the Mariners in the middle of May. Coghlan was struck on the left wrist during an at-bat on May 11, and the club says he has been battling it since then.
"He got hit during that Seattle series, when they were here, on the wrist," Gibbons said. "It has been kind of nagging him. He was playing through it, but it has been bothering him lately, so we just put him on the DL."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.