Springer faces 1 last hurdle before '21 debut

April 27th, 2021

The wait continues for ’s Blue Jays debut.

Tuesday’s opener against the Nationals in Dunedin, Fla., looked good for a possible return, but the star outfielder isn’t ready for game action just yet, as he recovers from a right quad strain. He took batting practice with the team at TD Ballpark prior to Tuesday’s game, but running remains the final hurdle the 31-year-old needs to clear.

“He feels great, except the running,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “He’s got to make sure he’s close to 100% to start playing.”

Springer first missed time late in Spring Training with an oblique strain, and right when he was nearing the end of that rehab process is when this quad strain popped up. He’s been taking part in rehab games at the alternate training site, playing the field defensively and taking full sprints on the bases.

When Springer returns, it’s clear that DH days will be part of the process to ease him in, and it’s possible he gets the odd day off, especially in situations like a day game following a night game. Once the Blue Jays’ medical staff clears him, that decision is one the club can evaluate day to day.

“When it comes to the lineup stuff, it’s just [him and me],” Montoyo said. “Whenever he’s ready, we’ll talk, and if he feels better at DH in the first game then we’ll DH him. If he feels ready to play in center field, he’ll play in center field.”

In the meantime, expect to see more of Cavan Biggio in the outfield, where he played again on Tuesday. Jonathan Davis should also continue to see playing time.

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Ryu, who left his last start on Sunday with a minor right glute strain, didn’t feel at the time that it was an “injury” and was optimistic he’d miss no time. Montoyo said that Ryu was going through his regular program on Tuesday, and while the ace will continue to be evaluated, it doesn’t appear to be anything serious. If Ryu needs an extra day of rest ahead of his next outing, that’s doable, too.

Hernández healthy, but needs reps
is back with the Blue Jays after clearing all COVID-19 protocols following a positive test two weeks ago. It’s now just a matter of timing and getting his swing back, after Hernández isolated for a full 10 days away from the club’s facilities.

“We’ve just got to make sure he gets at-bats, and he’s been playing every day at the alternate site,” Montoyo said. “We’ll see. He should be close, because he’s healthy, but he needs at-bats.”

Next steps for Big Nate
No. 1 prospect Nate Pearson will throw three-to-four innings on Thursday at the club’s alternate site as he continues to build back up. Pearson was out with a right adductor strain, and while he’s fine now he’s going through a Spring Training structure. The right-hander threw 51 pitches in his last rehab start, so it would make sense to see him climb into the 60-to-70 range if all goes well. After that, the plans are still to be determined.

“It depends on how it goes, and what we need in the big leagues,” Montoyo said. “If we don’t need a starter, he won’t get called up. We’ll see how he does. We want to stretch him out, for sure, for close to five innings. Whenever he can get close to five or six innings, he’ll probably get a chance to come up.”