Ross Atkins’ 2016 Postmortem: Part I, Injury Updates

Josh Donaldson
Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Blue Jays GM Ross Atkins spoke to approximately half of my Twitter timeline on Monday afternoon, offering his take on a wide-ranging number of issues that the Blue Jays will face this offseason and going forward.

Naturally, there was plenty that Atkins didn’t say — that he couldn’t or that it wouldn’t have been prudent to say — but that still leaves us with a whole lot to parse. So much, in fact, that instead of writing one giant, unwieldy post about everything he said, we’re going to break it down into sections. (Which is definitely not what I originally intended, but oh man, it’s about time I get posting some of this already!)

Up first: the injury updates.

* * *

Atkins won’t comment on the specific status of injured players * Surgery not ruled out for Donaldson (hip), Martin (knee), or Pillar (thumb) * Won’t say the gloves are fully off Sanchez yet *

This was the biggest news to come from yesterday’s scrum, as far as I’m concerned, so we’ll start here. None of these three key players was quite himself by the end of the season, and it was no secret that they were hurting. Russell Martin was clearly ailing by the end of the season, and he noticeably struggled at the plate through September and the playoffs. Kevin Pillar required a DL spell in August for the thumb injury. And we talked about Donaldson not being right for several weeks at the end of the season, hearing stories about the extensive treatment he needed just to keep himself on the field, and watching his slugging percentage slump to below .400 for the month of September.

So why is this big news? Because holy shit, the idea of Donaldson going for hip surgery is slightly terrifying.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m just of the age to still be scarred by thoughts of Bo Jackson or something, but you’d rather a player not have to have surgery on his damn hip. I obviously have no idea what the severity of the injury is, and Donaldson, despite a lack of home runs, certainly didn’t seem slowed by the injury during his incredible playoff run. On the other hand, Troy Tulowitzki hasn’t looked like the same guy since hip surgery ended his 2014 season prematurely.

Am I being a little too alarmist here? Almost certainly! But hey, if they’re going to tell us Josh Donaldson might need hip surgery and leave it at that, what else am I supposed to do?

On a positive note, Russell Martin was outstanding for four months between the subsiding of his early-season neck injury and the middle of September, slashing .269/.371/.517 over nearly 350 plate appearances before everything went to hell sometime in the last couple weeks of the regular season. Might it have been the knee injury? If so, might his somewhat ordinary season not be the harbinger of mid-30s decline that those who’ll be looking at his overall numbers might want to think it is?