MINNEAPOLIS -- Ryan Borucki has been suspended for three games and fined an undisclosed amount for “intentionally hitting” Kevin Kiermaier on Wednesday, MLB announced. Borucki is appealing the decision.
Manager Charlie Montoyo has also been suspended one game, which is automatic for a manager in this situation. This isn’t the first time this has happened to Montoyo, so he knew it was coming.
“I knew the moment my pitcher got thrown out that I’m suspended,” Montoyo said. “You could see by my pitching coach’s reaction that we didn’t want to do that, but I know what it looks like, so it was just like with [Alek] Manoah a few months ago. I know what it looks like and it is what it is. That’s the past.”
Borucki’s appeal process means that he will continue to pitch with the Blue Jays until that is complete. This closes the book -- at least partially -- on a tense series between the Rays and Blue Jays that nearly boiled over.
It all started on Monday, when Kiermaier slid into home plate and a card fell out of the wristband of Alejandro Kirk. Kiermaier picked that card up and took it back into the Rays' dugout, which obviously upset the Blue Jays. Manager Kevin Cash apologized to Montoyo the very next day and the two considered the issue to be behind them, but it clearly wasn’t.
Borucki said after Wednesday’s game that it was unintentional, just a ball that got away from him on the arm side, which he’s prone to doing. Cash wasn’t buying it, and Kiermaier added to the budding rivalry between two teams that could eventually meet in the ALDS.
“I hope we play those guys, I really do,” he said. “I hope we play them.”
Blue Jays eyeing capacity increase at Rogers Centre
Rogers Centre has a capacity limit of 15,000 fans under the current COVID-19 guidelines from the province of Ontario, but they’re hoping that changes just in time for their final homestand of the season, especially with the AL Wild Card race looking like it will come down to the final days.
The Blue Jays announced Thursday that they are now making additional tickets beyond the 15,000 available for those games, which can be used if the province increases capacity. If not, those fans will be refunded for the tickets and capacity will remain at the original 15,000. The Blue Jays currently require proof of vaccination for all fans over 12 years old in attendance.
“I think that’s going to be awesome,” Montoyo said. “When we had the 15,000, it sounded great, but I know what that place sounds like when there’s a lot more than that. It’s going to be awesome to have that crowd. I’m looking forward to it.”
Springer working on ‘The Return: Part 3’
George Springer went through outfield drills again on Thursday in Minneapolis, another encouraging sign that he could play center field before the end of the season. Springer has looked far more comfortable on the bases lately as he continues to play through knee discomfort.
The final 10 games -- and anything beyond -- are exactly why the Blue Jays signed Springer. The 31-year-old star has a proven track record of success on the biggest of stages, and as everyone saw through the heart of the season, a healthy Springer is one of the game’s best all-around players.
Springer seeing some games in the outfield would trickle down to strengthen Montoyo’s bench, too. Corey Dickerson can be a valuable situational bench bat while Jarrod Dyson’s wheels can still change a game on the bases.