Just as George Springer was nearing his return from a left oblique strain, the Blue Jays’ star center fielder felt tightness in his right quad while running the bases on Tuesday.
The new injury cut Springer’s baserunning session short, and he underwent an MRI. The Blue Jays are waiting on the results of that test, manager Charlie Montoyo said prior to Wednesday afternoon’s 2-1 loss to the Rangers at Globe Life Field.
“He did the live batting practice and everything was fine,” Montoyo explained. “Then it was time for him to run the bases, and when he was running the bases, he felt a tightness in the quad and stopped. As the day went on, he felt like, ‘OK, this is not just a cramp,’ and that’s when we got the MRI.”
Facing live pitching and taking swings at 100 percent effort was an important moment in Springer’s recovery from the oblique injury. This new injury and its uncertain timetable complicate things.
When Springer spoke with the media Tuesday following his hitting session, he was in high spirits and called that a “great step" toward his return. Springer said he’d push to play as soon as his 10-day IL stint expired, in time for the Blue Jays' home opener on Thursday in Dunedin, Fla. That’s clearly out of the picture now.
“It’s tough. You’ve got to be careful, just like with the oblique,” Montoyo said. “If you make it worse, then you’re really out for a long time. That’s the one thing about those injuries for anybody. We have to be patient and be careful. We know how badly he wants to play.”
The Blue Jays will continue to roll with Randal Grichuk -- who was 8-for-16 with one homer heading into Wednesday's game -- in center field, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in left and Teoscar Hernández in right. Jonathan Davis sticks as the reserve outfielder and should see some playing time, while Cavan Biggio would be the club’s fifth outfielder if that need arises.
Updates on Ray, Pearson injuries
Left-hander Robbie Ray (left elbow contusion) will throw a long bullpen session Wednesday, after which the Blue Jays should have a clearer timeline for his return.
Ray was nearly 100 percent built up in camp prior to the injury, so his rehab won’t be complicated by needing to stretch back out. Montoyo is playing his cards close to the vest regarding who will come out of the rotation. But the Blue Jays have Ross Stripling and T.J. Zeuch in their starting five, and Tanner Roark is coming off a rough 2021 debut against Texas on Tuesday, when he allowed five runs on six hits (including three home runs) over three innings.
Nate Pearson (right adductor strain), Toronto's No. 1 prospect, is “progressing,” Montoyo said, but there hasn’t been a concrete update on the right-hander’s return. Pearson’s case differs from Ray’s in that once he’s healthy, he’ll need some time to build back up.