I’ve tried, man. Believe me, I’ve tried. The idea that Devon Travis is maybe not quite as injury prone as it seems is an alluring one. After all, it’s really just been one knee injury and a couple bones that hadn’t fused properly from birth. There isn’t a litany, year-after-year, of pulls, strains, sprains, and surgeries. He isn’t Troy Tulowitzki.
But this knee injury? It really feels like it’s been taking way longer to heal than should be necessary — than just about any knee injury I can recall that didn’t involve blowing out joints and ligaments. Oh, I’m hardly an expert on his, and sure, Michael Saunders missed a whole year because of his sprinkler incident in the spring of 2015, which also involved surgery and cartilage, meaning that maybe I’m being a touch too alarmist about young Devon here, but this was pretty damned dispiriting nonetheless:
Devon Travis had a setback in his rehab; he's being backed off. Nothing official yet but hard to imagine him rejoining Blue Jays this season
— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) August 30, 2017
Apparently this was reported a few days ago, but I certainly missed it. It wouldn’t have been any less frustrating to hear if I hadn’t. Because… damn, man. As much as a part of me would like to treat his second surgery — which he underwent in June — as a separate thing, and as much as it’s probably correct to think that setbacks are a natural part of the recovery process from that, and as much as I loathe enabling the squids who rush to sourly vent about the guy, or think that no team should ever employ a player once he’s acquired the “injury prone” label, this feels a little bit like the point where his proneness to injury is kinda undeniable. Doesn’t it?
And that, of course, has ramifications on the Jays, who need to find a way to build a 2018 roster that has better cover for shortstop and second base than Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney.
That’s a task that’s maybe not quite as difficult as it seems. Crazy as it sounds, Josh Donaldson has looked competent enough at short in the few starts he’s made there this month (though I’m not sure how I’d feel about that with heavy ground ball pitchers like Marcus Stroman or Aaron Sanchez on the hill). Russell Martin can fill in at third or at second, and Danny Jansen is getting close to being a viable option to spell him behind the plate (though is probably a year away). Lourdes Gurriel is a versatile infield defender whose biggest problem seems to be a lack of reps — something he’ll get as part of the Jays’ contingent in the Arizona Fall League, and maybe as a September call-up as well. And the club may well look to bring in an infielder in the off-season — they were reportedly looking at Dee Gordon, and Neil Walker is a name that might make a bit of sense as well — who could either play in the outfield himself when everybody is healthy, or force Travis out there.
There’s a way to do it that can create a “good problem to have” situation with too many decent players for too few positions — hey, and maybe that will give the club the opportunity to justifiably ditch Kendrys Morales at some point! — but it’s not going to be easy, and there’s really nothing good about this particular problem, as it stands right now.
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