Archive for the ‘Injuries’ Category

edwinbisons

Do you get the sense that Jays fans are a little excited about the impending return of slugger Edwin Encarnacion? Because I sure do, and so does my Twitter feed, which exploded tonight when Edwin, in his second at-bat in a rain-delayed rehab start for the Buffalo Bisons, did… well… this:

(Video after the jump).

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edwinMILHR

Edwin Encarnacion will leadoff and DH for the Buffalo Bisons tonight (if the weather allows them to get the game in — which apparently could be an issue, though the Bisons are holding firm as of 5:20 PM ET that the game will be played), with the plan being to have him join the Jays in Chicago on Friday, where they take on the White Sox for a three-game weekend set, followed by an off-day and two in Milwaukee against the Brewers.

According to a tweet from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News, the Bisons have moved their batting practice indoors this afternoon. More interestingly, he’s posted some video of Edwin taking a couple swings.

Check it out after the jump…

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Melky Plays!

melkylineup

What’s that? Good injury news for the Blue Jays?

No, it won’t put more runs on the board last night, meaning the Jays still wasted an excellent performance from J.A. Happ, but what seemed like an extra-dispiriting loss is now just a little bit more… uh… spiriting: as you can see above, Melky Cabrera is back in the lineup tonight for the Jays.

Halle-effing-lujah.

In case you missed it, or were stunned into total amnesia by the fact that Anthony Gose went yard, Melky got himself an ugly welt on his elbow last night, after taking a pitch to it in his first at-bat of the game. He stayed in to run the bases, and as DH wasn’t needed again until the third, when Nolan Reimold took his place.

In the aftermath of the game the Jays were non-committal, as usual, about the injury, leading to a whole lot of consternation — though, given their track record of late, even their saying he’d be fine would have led to consternation, I’m sure. But it’s all in the past now: Melky is back in left field and hitting second in the lineup tonight as the Jays host Anibal Sanchez and the Tigers. They needed that.

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lawrieface

There are about seven weeks left in the season, and according to a statement to reporters today from Alex Anthopoulos, Brett Lawrie could miss as many as six of them. And that’s assuming the prognosis includes time for a rehab assignment, which it almost certainly doesn’t.

In other words, it’s not impossible that we’ve seen the last of Brett Lawrie in a Blue Jays uniform this season.

That’s getting ahead of ourselves a bit, though. What the GM said, according to a tweet from Barry Davis, is that the left oblique strain that has landed the oft-injured infielder on the Disabled List yet again will require a recovery time of “three to six weeks.”

While I generally roll my eyes — or worse — at the tinfoil hat wearing individuals who want to see a conspiracy in everything the Jays say about their players’ injuries, here they’re giving us a timeline that admits it may be tough for Lawrie to get back in time to finish the season. It may not! He may end up close to the three week side of things, but I think fans can be forgiven if they’re skeptical.

Other Injury Updates

In the tweet about the injury timeline, Davis notes that Anthopoulos says this latest oblique injury for Lawrie is unrelated to the previous ones he’s had. Which… great? I guess?

Another tweet from Davis says that Edwin Encarnacion has been running and may start rehab games on the weekend (yay!), and that Adam Lind went 2-for-3 today in his rehab assignment, and is on track to return when the club goes to Seattle early next week.

Encarnacion will return at the end of next week “at the latest,” says Anthopoulos, according to a tweet from Brendan Kennedy.

hinterland

Breaking: Brett Lawrie?

Ugh.

In his return to the lineup, something has happened to Brett Lawrie’s back — Gregor Chisholm was the first to tweet that it was “lower back tightness,” officially — and he did not come out to field in the top of the fourth inning. Danny Valencia took his place at third base.

Hey, but you know what’s more important than getting real grass for the Jays to play on? Being super nice to the Argos!

Doubly so after Danny Valencia butchered a high chopper from Delmon Young from an easy, and much needed, out into a run-scoring single.

Anywho, in his first and only at-bat of the night, Lawrie hit what might have been a double down the first base line, but he missed first base and had to quickly put on the brakes and go back — though, in all honesty, that may have had more to do with the arm of Nick Markakis. Before we knew the official explanation, Buck and Tabby thought the issue may have occurred then. I wondered for a time if maybe something happened with his still-sore finger when he slid back into first base. John Gibbons even suggested in a mid-telecast interview that something may have happened with him sitting on the flight from Florida.

Whatever the case, stop me if you’ve heard this before: Brett Lawrie is hurt. We’ll update as more becomes known, unless it’s just “day-to-day,” which it almost certainly is going to be. So… this is probably all you’ll get.

Update: Well, Lawrie is day-to-day, but here’s a little more context for you: Megan Robinson tweets that John Gibbons says Lawrie felt his back tighten up in batting practice, while Barry Davis adds that Lawrie himself says it was “grabbing at” him in BP, and that this is the first time he’s experienced a lower back problem, which… that can’t be right, can it? He’ll have an MRI tomorrow just to be safe, Davis tweets, but the hope is that he’ll only be out a day or two. Fun stuff, ain’t it? One more tweet from Barry tells us that Lawrie had treatment during the game and his back loosened up, but that he’s still going to to be cautious and get the MRI.

Welcome Back Kottaras

The Jays divested themselves of some of their catching depth when they moved Erik Kratz as part of the deal for Danny Valencia last week, and as much as the Valencia is a nice little fit for them, it left the rather thin in the catching department. A.J. Jimenez is the only non-MLB catcher on the roster, with Mike Nickeas the only one with big league experience at either Buffalo or New Hampshire.

In other words, they wouldn’t be in a great spot if Navarro or Thole were injured. Not that any team wouldn’t have a rough go if it lost both of its big league catchers, but Kratz was a nice little insurance policy — a good-receiving backup with a little bit of pop, and thank to his time in the big leagues, with some familiarity with the club’s pitchers, too.

I wasn’t terribly worried about the Jays being able to come up with a guy to take his place, if they ended up needing one in a pinch, and it turns out we didn’t — or at least may not — have to wait until then. To wit:

He’s certainly got the passport that will get people around here to take notice, but he’s actually a nifty little pickup, too.

Ewan Ross made the case for the Jays to pick up Kottaras back in November at Blue Jays Plus, citing his elite walk rate, his good ISO, that he’s a left-handed hitter (A.J. Jimenez hits right, FYI), and the fact that he’s caught a knuckleball before (he was Tim Wakefield’s personal catcher in 2009) as reasons. He hasn’t played much this season, or all that well — at least not in the overall, though he was hot in a very small big league sample of 33 plate appearances split between Cleveland and St. Louis — but the track record is actually pretty decent. He’s been worth over three wins per FanGraphs in less than a couple season’s worth of plate appearances (853 PA), partly based on defence, but partly also because he’s been a league average hitter by wRC+, thanks largely to the great walk rate, which has seen him post a career OBP of .327 — which is only, like, 50 points higher than Kratz’s, with a better SLG and ISO to boot.

That’ll play. Um… in Buffalo, ideally.

Lind And Encarnacion Progressing

lindEE

Brett Lawrie may finally be back in the Jays’ lineup tonight, but the club is obviously waiting on a pair of big bats to return in the forms of Adam Lind and Edwin Encarnacion. Today we learned at least one of them may be in the lineup by the weekend.

Holy yes!

Adam Lind, according to John Gibbons (via a tweet from Mike Wilner), will begin a rehab assignment in the next couple of days, and Chris Toman follows that Gibbons said it’s possible that Lind can return to the club by the weekend. That would be about four weeks from when we heard back on July 11th that he’d be into games in two-or-three weeks, so… not bad, really. Not bad at all.

Better still? The possibility of the club playing most of the final two months of the season with the Majors’ second-best hitter against right-handed pitching (minimum 150 plate appearances).

But the news isn’t quite as good on Edwin Encarnacion. It has already been a month now since he left a game in Oakland with an injury to his right quadriceps muscle, and while he was initially hopeful that he’d only be out a couple of weeks, a setback he had a week ago that forced him to shut it down has blurred the timeline on his return. So much so that there currently is still no timetable.

However, it’s not all bad news: Encarnacion is swinging a bat again, and Shi Davidi tweets that he’s going to run in the next few days.

OK, maybe that’s doesn’t sound terribly great, but if you’ll remember back to last week, in pieces like John Lott’s for the National Post on the setback, we were told it occurred because of the torque placed on the injured muscle when swinging a bat. So the fact that he’s doing it again now, um… that’s something. Right?

Man, that parrot must be getting awful feisty at this point. Needs a walk real damn bad.

lindoak

The Jays made official this morning what we all knew was going to happen after the results of Adam Lind’s “Mom-RI” revealed that he’d be out six-to-eight weeks with a fractured right foot [Update: Actually, Ben Nicholson-Smith tweets that this afternoon the Jays said that Lind will be in a walking boot for 5-7 days, and back into games in 2-3 weeks. OK!], placing him on the disabled list and recalling Dan Johnson from Buffalo to make his Blue Jays debut (D’ing Bobby Korecky FA in the process to make room on the 40-man).

Fans can probably be forgiven for believing that while Lind has actually not been great over the last few weeks, and Johnson has been crushing at Triple-A, seems almost beside the point given the “no light at the end of the tunnel” sort of situation that the Jays are currently mired in. We all know the litany of troubles: the losses, the wasting of good pitching performances, the coughing up of a late lead on Wednesday to an Albert Pujols home run, Encarnacion and Lawrie and now Lind being on the shelf, Juan Francisco going full pumpkin, Bautista and Reyes hurting and not hitting like their normal selves. A 4.5 game lead in the AL East on June 11th turned into a 3.0 game deficit today.

Shit, the Jays losing Lind didn’t even warrant mention (likely because it was already old news by then, but still!) in Drew’s piece at theScore on MLB’s “Black Thursday,” which saw Masahiro Tanaka, Brandon Phillips, and Yadier Molina all go down.

But it’s not untrue that Lind has hit a pedestrian .275/.333/.377 (98 wRC+) in his last 75 plate appearances, and an awful .174/.174/.261 over his last ten (23 PA, wRC+ of 9). Or that Johnson — a lefty-hitting 1B/DH with some ability to be bad at a few other positions (3B/OF) — has been fantastic in the International League, posting a .248/.402/.471 line (144 wRC+) in 403 plate appearances for Buffalo.

Obviously those numbers won’t translate to the big leagues, but he’s actually been a decent enough big league hitter over 1556 career plate appearances, posting a 101 wRC+ by way of a .236/.337/.411 line. He’s had some short and terrible stints — a .119/.187/.202 line in 91 plate appearances for the Rays in 2011, for example — but some extended good ones, mostly in his early career, and has been an excellent Triple-A hitter over nearly 4000 plate appearances at the level, posting a .283/.403/.513 line.

So, yes, he’s been a journeyman (he took a year off to go to Japan, even) and there maybe isn’t a tonne to dream on for a guy who has been overlooked so many times this season, and had so many chances to establish himself in the big leagues, but he’s hardly nothing, either. He’s an immediate upgrade on what a hobbled Lind was offering, he can take a walk (13.2% walk rate as a big leaguer), some of his big leauge struggles and time spent in the wilderness was due to a hand injury, and he’s even shown enough against same-sided pitching — a .796 OPS against lefties this year in 149 plate appearances, and a couple hollow OBPs above .325 in the previous three seasons in AAA, for whatever that’s worth — to, sadly, probably be an upgrade on some of the bats this club has been running out against lefties of late.

And he’s not short on self belief, either. In an outstanding piece at Bull City Summer, Adam Sobsey writes about Johnson,

Two seasons ago, while he was playing for Charlotte, Johnson told me that he had had interest from National League teams, who wanted to put him on their major-league bench for left-handed platoon and pinch hitting duty. But Johnson turned down the guaranteed major-league salary (half a million dollars), plus pension and union membership. He still believed he could be a big-league regular, and in order to land that full-time job he’d have to play in the American League, which has the designated hitter, the position where Johnson’s skills most comfortably belong (although he’s a better first baseman than his reputation allows.) So he gambled on a much lesser minor-league contract and started the last two seasons in Triple-A, hoping for a crack at the bigger dream.

He also tells us that this season Johnson has adopted a new batting stance this season, more traditional looking than the open stance many fans may remember. It would be a bit of a stretch to think that maybe this will have changed him for the better and for good as he gets set to make his 2014 debut in the majors (he hits 8th tonight in Tampa, the city where he made his most famous baseball moment, a game-tying, two-strike, two-out home run on the epic last day of 2011 that saved the Rays’ season), but one can hope.

Of course, all this doesn’t mean that losing Lind, who currently ranks fourth in MLB among hitters with over 100 PA against right-handers with a 178 wRC+, won’t hurt. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be the sort of death blow to the club that the news maybe felt like when it was first learned that yet another of their key bats was leaving the lineup for an extended period. Not that the way they’re teetering they necessarily need a death blow at this point anyway. Ugh.