Springer back from quad strain, feels 'great'

June 22nd, 2021

has finally reached the end of his long road back to the Blue Jays’ lineup.

The star outfielder was activated from the IL prior to Tuesday’s game in Miami, playing center field and batting fifth. Springer last played on May 2, appearing in just four games before aggravating the same right quad strain that landed him on the IL to start the season.

“It’s been brutal, to be completely honest,” Springer said Tuesday. “I want to play. I’ve wanted to play this whole time. I don’t want to be hurt and I don’t like being hurt. I understand that injuries do happen, but for it to happen the way it did, especially as fast as it did, was not fun. I want to be out there with the guys and play, whether it’s good, bad or whatever the case. This has been extremely hard on me, but I tried to do my best not to show it and be supportive of the guys every day, to suffer silently and get better. Here I am now.”

Last time back, Springer only started at DH, even leaving one of his four games early after experiencing “fatigue” in his right quad. Springer says that he felt “fine” last time, but now, he feels “great” and fully able to play the field regularly.

“It was important to understand for myself that I could go out there and do anything I needed to do, anything the game is going to require me to do,” Springer said. “I need to be able to do it, and I need to be able to be the guy that the team wants me to be and needs me to be.”

Now, the Blue Jays have a good problem on their hands.

In the outfield, the Blue Jays have Teoscar Hernández playing well in right field while Randal Grichuk, who’s been a very important piece of this club so far, has cooled a bit recently. It’s possible to see an outfield of Springer in center with Grichuk sliding over to right and Hernández moving across to left field at times, but the Blue Jays still want to get Lourdes Gurriel Jr. going. The DH spot, of course, will help to balance this out.

Then comes the batting order. Manager Charlie Montoyo said recently that, when he looks at his lineup, he’s reminded of the advice that if something isn’t broken, don’t fix it. Springer hasn’t seen steady MLB game action in a while, so the Blue Jays are comfortable hitting him in the middle of the order until he heats up, then reconsidering him at the top. It helps that Springer is on board, too.

“I told [Montoyo] that I think it’s very important the guys stay where they are," Springer said. "I believe strongly in the way Marcus [Semien], Bo [Bichette], Vladdy [Guerrero Jr.], all of those guys, the way that they’ve swung the bat and gotten comfortable in those positions. I told him that I’m willing to do whatever he wants me to do and what’s best for the team. Eventually, we’ll see what that is, but whatever he decides to do, I’m on board with.”

It’s clear that the Blue Jays need to upgrade their pitching, particularly the bullpen, and this lineup isn’t without its flaws, but the Blue Jays have been an offensive force in 2021. They enter Tuesday tied for the Major League lead in home runs (107), eighth in runs scored (351), second in average (.262) and second in OPS (.773).

Add Springer’s bat to that, and it’s only getting better.

“I came here to win,” Springer said. “I came here to play. I’ve been on the bench since I don’t even know when, a long time. I want to go out there and be who they want me to be. I want to be what they expect. I expect a lot of my own self. … I expect to be the player that they need me to be.”

In corresponding moves, the Blue Jays optioned both Rowdy Tellez and Jonathan Davis to Triple-A Buffalo. Right-hander Jacob Barnes, acquired recently from the Mets via trade, has also joined the club and was active Tuesday.

Manoah, Montoyo suspended

Right-hander has been suspended five games for “intentionally throwing at Maikel Franco” on Saturday in Baltimore, Major League Baseball announced. Manoah will also be fined an undisclosed amount and will be appealing his punishment.

This came in the fourth inning against the Orioles following two home runs against Manoah, and as he stepped in towards home plate and exchanged words with Franco, the dugouts and bullpens emptied. Following the outing, Manoah said that it was not intentional, just a pitch that got away from him.

Montoyo has also received a one-game suspension, which he served in Tuesday’s opener against the Marlins. Montoyo said prior to the game that he did not agree with the ruling, but understood that it is the rule. In his place, a group of coaches, including John Schneider, Dave Hudgens and Mark Budzinski, were in the dugout managing the club.