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News and Notes: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. dealing with an injury, Alek Manoah awaiting an assignment, and more

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Photo credit:© Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK
Cam Lewis
9 months ago
Just as the Blue Jays got healthy, something new popped up.
Bo Bichette, Kevin Kiermaier, and Trevor Richards were activated from the Injured List over the weekend and George Springer and Danny Jansen returned to the lineup after missing a few games with minor injuries. The Blue Jays had their ideal roster rolling on Sunday, but then Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was removed from the game with a finger injury.
This isn’t a thing that’s expected to result in Vladdy spending time on the Injured List, though it won’t be clear until the Blue Jays arrive in Baltimore whether he’ll be in the lineup when the Jays kick off their three-game set with the Orioles on Tuesday.
It’s been a frustrating season for Guerrero and his underwhelming performance at the plate has sparked a considerable amount of speculation about what might be wrong. Theories include a simple bout of bad luck, the Rogers Centre’s new dimensions, the coaching staff not having the team pull the ball enough, and the possibility that there’s a nagging injury that we don’t know about.
Back in May, Guerrero was pulled from a game against the New York Yankees after hurting his knee fielding a ball near first base. Going into that game, he had a .314 batting average and a .912 OPS through the first month and a half of the season. Over 80 games since then, his average has dipped to .240 and his OPS is down to .712.
The Blue Jays did an MRI on Guerrero’s knee at that time and there was no structural damage revealed, but it’s difficult to ignore the stark contrast in results ahead of that injury and after. Guerrero also suffered a knee injury back in spring training that ultimately kept him from playing in the World Baseball Classic.
If Guerrero misses any time, the Blue Jays have Brandon Belt to play first base while Cavan Biggio has also logged 61 innings at the position this season. If he needs time on the Injured List, the Blue Jays could opt to recall Spencer Horwitz, who has a 1.061 OPS for the Triple-A Bisons over the month of August.

Alek Manoah hasn’t pitched since being optioned

The Blue Jays optioned Alek Manoah to Triple-A Buffalo back on August 11 following a difficult start against the Cleveland Guardians and he hasn’t pitched since. Manoah is still in Toronto awaiting an assignment.
Manoah was sent to the team’s pitching lab in Dunedin in early June and he made one start in the Florida Complex League and one with Double-A New Hampshire before coming back up a week into July. He had a couple of strong starts against the Detroit Tigers and Boston Red Sox when he came back up but ultimately posted a 4.91 across six starts before going down again.
“Same message that we’ve been talking to him all year, really. Just have your delivery be sound,” manager John Schneider said when Manoah was demoted for the second time. “There was progress when he came back and certain things we were looking at between that, his breaking ball, fastball command, so I think just continuing to work on those things.
“I think the path for him is to get a regular turn in the rotation and do what he can to get back to the pitcher that he can be.”
Given Schneider’s previous comments, it’s odd that Manoah hasn’t joined the Bisons to continue along with his normal pitching schedule. It made sense that Manoah was the odd man out considering he’s one of the few pitchers on Toronto’s staff with options and the Blue Jays have five effective starting pitchers on their roster, but him just waiting around in Toronto is certainly a head-scratcher.

Other Blue Jays notes…

  • Daulton Varsho has really started to find his groove in the month of August. Chris Black noted on Twitter that Varsho made a mechanical adjustment to his swing earlier this month, changing from a drifting leg kick to a smaller toe tap. Since making that change, Varsho has gone 14-for-45 with three homers, two doubles, and a triple.
  • Bowden Francis tossed the final three innings in Toronto’s win over the Reds on Sunday and picked up the first save of his big-league career in the process. He’s quietly been a very effective pitcher for the Blue Jays this season, as the righty has a 2.03 ERA over 26 2/3 innings pitching largely in muti-inning appearances. Something worth noting with Francis is that he’s already been optioned four times this season, so the Blue Jays can only send him down one more time. If they try to option him a sixth time, Francis would need to go through waivers.
  • Chad Green tossed another scoreless inning for the Bisons on Sunday. He’s now thrown nine innings between Low-A and Triple-A in his rehab assignment without allowing an earned run. It’s difficult to say who will be optioned to make room for Green when he’s ready to return. Designating Paul DeJong for assignment opened up a spot on the 40-man roster for Green but somebody else will need to go from the 26-man roster to activate him.

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