George Springer has been placed back on the 10-day injured list with a right quad strain, the Blue Jays announced Wednesday. It's the same injury that kept the outfielder out for most of April.
Springer was removed from Sunday’s game in Dunedin after three plate appearances after feeling what the Blue Jays described as “fatigue” in the area. He was out of the lineup on Monday and Tuesday in Oakland, as well, leaving the Blue Jays with a short bench.
The Blue Jays sent Springer for an MRI early Wednesday after his quad did not respond as quickly as expected, and that test showed an aggravation of the original right quad injury.
“The main reason we did it is because we didn’t see him improving fast enough, so we decided to have some imaging done to determine the next steps on him,” said manager Charlie Montoyo.
Jonathan Davis was activated from the taxi squad ahead of Wednesday’s game in Oakland, but the lineup was already set and the effect of that short bench was apparent. Joe Panik manned first base for just the second time in his 12-year professional career as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. got a day at the designated hitter spot. The roster’s only other natural first baseman, Rowdy Tellez, was optioned when Springer returned so Tellez could get at-bats at the alternate site as Springer DH’d.
Montoyo hesitated to call it “pain” that Springer was experiencing on Tuesday, but this fatigue Springer is experiencing had clearly not subsided.
“I wouldn’t call it severe,” Montoyo said. “He wasn’t going to be out six weeks or four weeks, so I wouldn’t call it severe, that’s for sure. That’s why he came back as soon as he did, because it was never severe. When it happened, he never really limped off the field, he just stopped running and went inside because he felt the quad.”
The IL designation is backdated to May 3, but the Blue Jays will continue to evaluate Springer over the coming days. Soft tissue injuries are difficult to put a timeline on even when they appear to be minor, and this is an excellent example of that.
Springer had only been appearing as a DH in his four games prior to aggravating the injuries, going 3-for-15 (.200) and hitting a pair of home runs on Saturday. Getting Springer back as the club’s everyday center fielder and leadoff man is clearly the priority, but after this experience, the Blue Jays will exercise extreme caution in getting Springer back in the lineup after signing him to a six-year, $150 million contract this past offseason.
Blue Jays swap out catchers
Reese McGuire, who flew to Oakland on Tuesday and went through COVID-19 intake protocols, was activated Wednesday to make his 2021 debut. He took the spot of No. 18 prospect Riley Adams, who was with the club for two games after Alejandro Kirk was placed on the 10-day IL with a left flexor strain.
“Adams is one of our prospects and we want him to keep playing,” Montoyo said. “It’s almost like what we did to Kirk last year. He came over and got to know how we do things in the big leagues, because we knew we were going to make a move. He’s got to play every day to keep getting better. He’s part of our future.”
McGuire will give the Blue Jays a more traditional, glove-first backup for the time being, but he’ll need to hit. The 26-year-old went just 3-for-41 (.073) in 2020 and eventually lost his spot on the 40-man roster, so while he brings experience at the Major League level, the Blue Jays still need some offensive life from their catching position as a whole.
Merryweather transferred to 60-day IL
Reliever Julian Merryweather was moved to the 60-day IL to make room for McGuire on the 40-man roster, a move that will keep the right-hander out until at least mid-June.
Merryweather’s oblique strain was a blow to the Blue Jays bullpen, and even though that group has performed very well in his absence, his skill set is rare. Merryweather began the season by opening plenty of eyes with 100-mph heat and was beginning to assume the closer’s role, but those high-leverage innings will now continue to go to a committee of Jordan Romano, Rafael Dolis, David Phelps and others.