Amid all of the Blue Jays’ injury news through the first half of April, none has loomed larger than George Springer, who is still waiting to make his Blue Jays debut after signing a six-year, $150 million deal in the offseason. It’s getting closer.
Speaking Sunday on MLB Network Radio, general manager Ross Atkins said that all signs are “exceptionally positive” with Springer, who stayed back from this road trip to continue his rehab at the club’s Dunedin facilities.
“He’s really feeling good. He’s running and he’s doing all of the baseball activities,” Atkins said. “Not quite at 100 percent with all of it, but getting live BP reps here in the coming hours and days. He’s had good defensive action. He’s had plenty of reps in the batting cage and he’s running again, so I think it’s a matter of us being disciplined to the process and being disciplined to that progression to make sure that we don’t move too quickly.”
Springer was originally rehabbing from an oblique strain when, just toward the tail end of that process, he strained a quad muscle. Running remains the most important hurdle in this particular recovery, but all recent updates have shown a steady progression for Springer.
Hernández recovering well from Covid-19
The most reassuring news of the weekend came when Atkins shared that Teoscar Hernández, who tested positive for Covid-19 earlier in the week, is recovering well.
“He’s symptom-free and feeling ready for baseball again. It’s such a difficult thing for a player to go through. He’s perfectly healthy now and recovered. Now we’ll just have to make sure that there’s nothing transmissible and he’s safe to come back into our environment.”
Hernández is required to isolate for 10 days, which he’s currently halfway through, after his positive test was announced on April 13. Once he clears all protocols set forth by Major League baseball, the 2020 Silver Slugger Award winner will be able to return to the lineup. In place of Springer and Hernández, Jonathan Davis and Josh Palacios have seen regular playing time while Randal Grichuk has taken over in center.
Big Nate on the comeback trail
No. 1 prospect Nate Pearson is set to throw a live batting practice session on Tuesday as he builds back up from his right adductor strain late in camp, pitching coach Pete Walker said Sunday. Pearson is now past the injury, but has to increase his workload in a simulated Spring Training setting after missing valuable time.
“He feels really good with no ill effects from the previous injury, so we’re excited about that,” Walker said. “We’re just progressing him along so he’s able to join us at some point soon.”
This build-up time can also be used as further development for Pearson, who struggled in his Major League debut season in 2020 before returning from injury in the playoffs and pitching two excellent innings against the Rays. Walker has a few checkpoints for Pearson’s progress on that front.
“It’s obviously about getting his body feeling right and commanding his fastball at different spots in the strike zone,” Walker said. “Then, establishing that breaking stuff where it’s carrying the zone effectively. That’s the biggest thing with him right now. Once he’s able to do that and attack the zone and get strike one, he should be off to the races.”
• Jordan Romano (right ulnar neuritis) threw a side session Sunday and Walker hopes to have him back as soon as his 10-day IL stint is up. Walker described it as “nothing severe.”
• Tyler Chatwood (right triceps strain) “should be back, too, right away” when his 10-day IL stint is up, Walker said. He will throw a live batting practice session on Tuesday after throwing a bullpen Sunday.
• Ross Stripling (right forearm flexor strain) played catch Sunday. The Blue Jays will see how he feels as he progresses and his timeline should be clearer next week.
• The Blue Jays are still waiting for more information on Julian Merryweather (left oblique strain). His injury is expected to keep him out of action beyond his 10 days, which is a difficult blow to this bullpen given how good Merryweather looked early, topping 100 mph and emerging as one of the best high-leverage options.