TORONTO -- Teoscar Hernandez is letting his bat do most of the talking, and he won't have to wait much longer before he finds out whether the Blue Jays have been listening.
Hernandez made a statement during Toronto's 15-5 victory over the Royals on Wednesday afternoon by registering a career-high four hits. He homered, tripled and was a double shy of the cycle while adding four RBIs and a pair of runs scored.
The 25-year-old has been in Toronto for less than a week, and already, he has done all he can to prove he belongs on the 25-man roster. Despite his recent success, a permanet spot is no guarantee, but Hernandez hopes that will change in the coming days.
"I got a little bit more experience last year, I got more confidence in Spring Training, and I just tried to stay focused and do the best that I can," Hernandez said. "When I got the call, I put in my mind that I got another chance to do what I know and to do my best. Keep getting better and try to get that chance to help the team."
Hernandez did not make the team out of Spring Training despite a strong camp. The Blue Jays were committed to using Kendrys Morales at designated hitter, Randal Grichuk in right field and the platoon of Steve Pearce and Curtis Granderson in left. That meant there was no spot on the big league roster, but it's starting to look like the Blue Jays might have to rethink their original plan.
Grichuk has just five hits in 53 at-bats this season, and Morales has been limited to five hits in 22 at-bats. Hernandez already has eight hits in four games, and five went for extra bases. After eight home runs last September, a strong Spring Training and now a hot start to 2018, there is not a whole lot else he can do to prove his case.
The problem for the Blue Jays is that the decision might not be that easy. Grichuk is out of options and cannot be sent to the Minors before clearing waivers. Morales is set to return from the disabled list on Friday, and someone has to go to make room. It won't be Mpho' Ngoepe, because the Blue Jays need a backup infielder while Josh Donaldson remains on the disabled list. The only alternative might be optioning lefty Tim Mayza to Triple-A Buffalo and returning to a seven-man bullpen.
"I don't think he can play any better," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said of Hernandez. "It's not going to be an easy decision, whatever we choose to do, but we have to make one. But, like I said, he can't play any better."
If the Blue Jays return to a seven-man bullpen, it would leave the rest of their roster with a less-than-ideal configuration. Toronto would have five outfielders and just one backup middle infielder on the 25-man roster, but one benefit is that that club does have the ability to occasionally play Russell Martin at third or move Pearce to first base.
Granderson has been around the Majors for 15 years, and he has seen this type of situation plenty of times before. He knows how stressful it can be for someone in Hernandez's situation, but his advice is pretty simple.
"The biggest thing is don't think about it," Granderson said. "Just come into the ballpark day in and day out, being ready to play. Understand that, obviously, certain things happen that are out of your control, that may not be the things that you like. But regardless where it happens to be, up here, starting or not starting, or happen to be in the Minor Leagues, you have to come in ready to play and find a way to get better each day. The biggest thing is, don't even think about it, because a lot of it is out of your control anyway."