Biggio goes on IL with neck sprain

Kay, Beasley optioned to Triple-A; Panik, Castro reinstated from IL; Springer update

May 22nd, 2021

The Blue Jays’ injury woes continued on Saturday as was placed on the 10-day IL with a cervical spine ligament sprain.

In simpler terms, this is a neck sprain, and Biggio has been playing through this discomfort for some time now. Earlier in the week, Biggio was moved from the field to DH just prior to the game due to neck soreness, then was held out of Friday’s lineup initially before pinch-hitting late.

“It’s nagging,” said manager Charlie Montoyo. “He gets loose, then he’s fine, but then the more he plays, it gets too uncomfortable and it gets tough to swing the bat. Last night, he was fine when he pinch-hit, but during the night it got tight again. He’s been playing like that. That’s what I love about this kid. Not many people do that anymore.”

The Blue Jays are optimistic that this will just be a 10-day stint for Biggio, who has primarily played third base for the Blue Jays this season but has also seen time at second base and in right field. Biggio is hitting just .205, but has looked more comfortable at the plate recently and is still taking his walks, with 20 on the season to give him a .315 OBP.

Biggio was far from Saturday’s only roster move, too:

Panik returns from IL
hit the IL with a left calf strain earlier in May, which opened the door for Santiago Espinal to see more playing time as of late, but the veteran infielder returns and should have a role immediately.

The 30-year-old was hitting .226 with a .543 OPS through 19 games, splitting his time between second and third while even seeing a start at first base. Panik will be on the fringes of the Blue Jays’ depth picture when this roster is at full health, but until then, he’ll be relied upon.

Pitching shuffle with Castro returning
The Blue Jays optioned starter Anthony Kay and reliever Jeremy Beasley down to Triple-A, and with Kay out, the Blue Jays now have an opening in their starting rotation.

“We needed arms after last night,” Montoyo said, “and it will be good for Anthony to go to Triple-A to work on being more consistent with his pitches, so he throws fewer pitches. It will be good for him. As of now, his spot is a bullpen day. That’s how we see it right now.”

The Blue Jays certainly have some options that are more exciting than a bullpen day. No. 5 prospect Alek Manoah has lit Triple-A on fire this month, posting a 0.50 ERA with 27 strikeouts over 18 innings. Then, there’s No. 1 prospect Nate Pearson, who pitched three innings of one-run ball in his return to the mound on Friday, striking out four on 58 pitches.

In Anthony Castro, the Blue Jays get back one of their best stories of April after he dealt with a right forearm strain. The right-hander seemed to really find something with his slider, and opened with 7 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out nine. He will be in line for some high-leverage spots, given how many injuries the Blue Jays are dealing with at the back end of the bullpen. Ty Tice, who owns a 5.14 ERA with six strikeouts over seven innings this season, has also been added to the roster.

The latest on Springer
George Springer went through more running drills on Saturday in Dunedin, Fla., and was running at “50-60%,” according to Montoyo.

The star outfielder still isn’t close to running the bases, which will be the final test of his strained right quad. First, he’ll need to work up to a full sprint, and he’ll also be able to get into some simulated game action in Dunedin. A more traditional rehab stint is expected to be part of this return process, too, but there’s still no clear timeline for Springer as the organization exercises caution following his re-aggravation of the injury that put him on the IL to open the season.