Photo Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Pillar says Teoscar Hernandez got benched earlier this year for lack of hustle

On one hand, Teoscar Hernandez has been one of the Blue Jays’ most impressive hitters this season. He has one of the best outfield arms in the American League, dare I even say “Jose Bautista-esque”?

Yet, when it comes to defense, Hernandez evokes nightmares of Moises Sierra’s “deer in the headlights” play in the outfield.

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Hernandez’ defensive play with the Blue Jays has been painful this season. His -14 defensive runs saved and five errors are the most among the team’s outfielders. Clearly, Hernandez is going through some growing pains as a full-time outfielder for the first time in his career.

Mistakes will be made in the outfield and players experience occasional lapses in judgement. However, one thing that won’t be tolerated by big-league managers is a lack of effort. Behind the scenes, John Gibbons let it be known he wasn’t pleased with Hernandez’ sense of urgency on a routine play.

We’re only hearing about it now thanks to Kevin Pillar’s impromptu appearance in the Sportsnet broadcast booth on Tuesday night. He revealed why Hernandez, his fellow outfielder, was taken off the field mid-game. Not because of an injury, but due to a lack of hustle.

(Hernandez) had a moment earlier in the year when Gibby felt like he wasn’t giving his entire effort in the outfield. He got pulled out – his spot came up in the lineup. Good on Gibby’s part to do that.

I felt like, once again, as a veteran outfielder here, I had to talk to him and talked about how extremely talented he is and how that’s something that can’t happen.

There’s only one game when Hernandez exited prematurely; that Interleague contest at Citi Field against the Mets on May 15th. It was the game when Noah Syndergaard hit a ball down the first base line and Hernandez positioned himself poorly, got his food stuck underneath the padding and got absolutely nothing on his relay to the infield.

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Just in case you may have forgotten how it happened, a reminder about one of the worst plays you’ll see from a Blue Jays outfielder.


Yes, he four-hopped the ball to the infield. Even I could even get the ball to Yangervis Solarte in four or fewer hops. As a result, the ball skipped into first base and Syndergaard’s single turned into a double and the Mets scored on the play.

Later in the fifth inning, Hernandez was taken out of the lineup and was replaced by Deck McGuire as the reliever entering the game. The truth is, it was an Interleague game and Gibbons needed Hernandez’ spot in the lineup, but from the comments Pillar made, it was also a convenient time to remove Hernandez from the game for his actions.

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No matter it’s left or right field, defense has been an issue for Hernandez all season long. On Tuesday night, he misplayed a routine fly ball in left field which led to two unearned runs. Coincidentally, he sat out Wednesday’s series finale against the Twins.

Gibbons said he wasn’t “punishing” Hernandez for that poor play, but let’s be honest, he was.

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Whether it’s the miscues by Hernandez in the outfield, Yangervis Solarte’s lack of hustle out of the batter’s box, Kendrys Morales’ bi-weekly TOOTBLAN display or just the overall poor play in the field, the Blue Jays haven’t played a fundamentally sound brand of baseball this year.

And to think, the second half of the season has only just begun. At times, this team looks like they’re still playing in Spring Training.

Hernandez undeniably has a gift at the plate, but he still has a lot to learn in the field. “Training on the job” is a perfect way to describe this situation, which means we may not have witnessed the last of Teoscar’s adventures in the outfield.

  • Terry Mesmer

    > And to think, the second half of the season has only just begun.

    The Jays have played 101 games with just 61 games left (that is, 62.4% of the season is behind us). They are three days short of being four months into a six-month schedule.

    That being said, I’d like to see the Jays use those 61 games to see if the question marks in the org are decent enough to be 2019 placeholders at the MLB level, or are at least worth protecting in the Rule 5 draft.

    Because of the injury to/trade of Pearce, we’ve already had a long look at Teoscar, and he’s been better than expected (despite the obvious shortcomings). We’re getting to see Gurriel every day start now, and he’s exciting, if unpolished. But after that it’s..??? Dwight Smith is up — I like him, but he might not be part of the future, but is he good enough to platoon-PH next year, a kind of “Granderson light”? I’d like to see Pompey and Harold Ramirez when the rosters expand. Taylor Guerrieri has been crappy at AAA but I’d like test him in the MLB. If Smoak is traded, bring up Tellez.

    These last five guys might never be regulars. So let’s play them soon, test them, and if they fail, not waste 40-man spots on them in December. (We could all provide more names.) Let’s use those spots to grab upgrades, however modest, from teams’ non-tenders, out of options guys, etc.

    • Terry Mesmer

      It would be a waste to call up the young studs and get their service clocks runnings when we know they’re better than what’s already at AAA. But are the AAA guys worth keeping? That’s what I want to know. Protecting Tellez last winter was STUPID. Et cetera.

    • Mose

      Solid points and completely agree on using the remainder of the season to give some of the prospects the opportunity to show themselves. Hopefully, some will step up like Borucki and Teoscar. Others might help to make some tough 40 man decisions later on….

      Trusting the Jays brass and high performance group are capable of selecting those who are ready for a MLB cameo.

      I’d want to avoid promoting a player too soon and risk damaging their grow or de-valuing their asset value to other teams.

    • Mose

      I like your idea of D Smith Jr. as a Granderson light next year, so long as good ole Gibbers can find enough at bats and playing time for him. As a lefty hitter, this shouldn’t be a problem though…

    • Nice Guy Eddie

      They’re not going to trade Justin Smoak. He’s a quality major league player on a team without many of them, and with an almost barren upper minors still. Tellez is not a major league talent.

  • Oz Rob

    Good on Pillar for speaking out. I don’t get the ‘love affair’ a lot of us seem to have with Hernandez. All we hear about is what a great pick up he was for Liriano, which is true. But while he hits for a lot of extra bases which helps boost his OPS, I can’t help thinking even his offence is pretty average. I can’t see him being a cornerstone of the future helping lead us to the promised land. Who knows, maybe he’ll turn into another George Bell, but his defence seems worse than George’s (for those of you who can remember).