George Springer’s injury adds to the Blue Jays’ woes after last loss to the Rays
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Shortly after the Toronto Blue Jays‘ 5-3 loss to the New York Yankees On Wednesday, George Springer decided that he and his teammates needed to talk. So, amid mounting frustrations over four straight losses and seven in the last nine starts, the star center fielder got everyone together, locked the doors and led a players-only meeting.
“I read the room a bit: we had just had a tough loss the night before and obviously things didn’t go our way that day. So shoot, why not? Springer explained. “I just thought it fit. I thought it was the right time. Nothing major. I felt like it was a good time to talk to the guys a bit and move on.”
Among the topics he addressed were slowing down, fighting adversity and being ready to adapt, points that became more pertinent on Friday when Springer abandoned Friday night’s 5-2 loss to the tampa bay lightning after spraining his left ankle.
The club’s initial diagnosis of the injury is a sprain, one that manager Charlie Montoyo said was described as minor. Springer was hurt trying to make a jump catch on Brandon Lowe’s 408-foot spike that led off the second, his weight bearing down on his ankle as he fell against the wall. All the Blue Jays on the field except starter Kevin Gausman and catcher Tyler Heineman ran to center field as he recovered.
“Your first thought is the worst case scenario, he broke his leg or something, that’s what you’re thinking, but luckily it looks like it’s just a sprained ankle,” Gausman said. “He’s a guy that brings a lot to the table, not just what he brings to the lineup, but just being in the clubhouse every day. He is one of our leaders. I’ve never seen the entire team be in center field for one player. That was very good. You can see how much it means to this team.”
The play was reminiscent of the one in which Springer was injured in Seattle last August, when he also landed awkwardly jumping backwards against the wall. He immediately grabbed his left ankle on that play, but the injury ultimately turned out to be a Grade 1 knee sprain.
Springer finished the inning this time, spinning around the cage to test himself before taking his turn at bat in the top of the third and then, after heading to the outfield to take the field, was replaced by Raimel Tapia.
The speedy outfielder helped create the Blue Jays’ first run of the game, overcoming a two-out infield single in the sixth inning, advancing to second on Bo Bichette’s walk and scoring on Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s RBI single. , and then hit a single at the plate. the tying run in the eighth.
But for an offense that hasn’t yet locked in and committed to its capabilities, any sort of absence from Springer will be a significant blow.
The all-too-familiar lack of production wasted Gausman’s last gem, who allowed Ji-Man Choi’s fielder’s pick that scored Lowe’s second-inning triple and Mike Zunino’s fifth-inning RBI single that cashed in Kevin Kiermaier. , who finished third on the right-hander’s throwing error.
Tapia’s run in the sixth began to undo a 2-0 deficit and after his single in the eighth, the Blue Jays appeared to be in position for more with men on first and second with no outs. But Andrew Kittredge took over from Brooks Raley, striking out Bichette and then inducing a 5-4-3 double play from Guerrero, who went all out down the line, was out by a half-step and then bent over in the outfield for several minutes. moments later.
“I like the fact that we came back in this game,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “Our hitters are working very hard. They’re even talking to each other, OK, don’t worry about yourself, it’s about the team and that’s a lot of talk right now. … They’re really putting in the effort at the end of the day and they’re probably pushing, as you can see.”
As on cue in the bottom half, Zunino led off with a double, Taylor Walls followed up with a grounder that an offset Bichette couldn’t corner, and Margot squeezed a base hit through an infield to score the go-ahead run. Francisco Mejia’s RBI single off Tim Mayza made it 4-2 and when the left-hander had a pick-off denied by a balk call, he scored on Lowe’s 3-pointer.
It was the kind of go-wrong loss that has been painfully common for the Blue Jays lately, which is part of why Springer decided to get the group together.
“This is a young team,” he said before the game. “That’s not an excuse, but sometimes they’re going to go through growing pains and you have to learn to fight and face a little bit of adversity and all that good stuff to come out better on the other side.
“A lot of people forget that this is the second year for a lot of really important players on this team,” he added. “They have to adjust to the league and the league has already adjusted to them and adjusted to how the Blue Jays like to hit and play. There is going to be a natural kind of regression period before it goes back up. I have been a part of that. Yo have to go ahead”.
The current challenge for the Blue Jays is compounded by the quality of the opponent they have faced over a grueling period of time. Every mistake they’ve made has been exploited during the current streak, amplifying the natural tendency to push.
That’s why Gausman thought Springer’s timing for the meeting “was excellent.”
“It seemed like before the guys could even get to their locker it was like, ‘Okay, let’s have a conversation.’ George just has a good feeling for it,” he continued. “I had a feeling that we needed to reiterate the things that we are trying to keep doing. That’s being a good teammate, being there for the guy who’s next to you and just said, ‘Listen, this is a grind right now, but we’re going to get out of this and when we do, we’re going to be better for it. that'”.
Springer drew that from his own experiences early in his career with the Houston Astros, seeing the cycle unfold from a different point of view. The “main message from him is just to slow down. Everything is alright. It’s just baseball.”
“A lot is lost in the youth of these guys because we’re expected to win and that’s fine,” he continued. “That’s a big problem to have. But they are still developing. These are guys who are still trying to learn for themselves and figure out who they want to be. So that’s my job to play around a bit, have a bit of fun, and hopefully we can start to slow some things down here. But there is still a long way to go.”
A road that will be much longer if Springer is out for any significant time.