With nine games to go and the team in a tight wild card race, the Toronto Blue Jays are facing some critical lineup decisions.
A hand injury suffered by outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on Thursday night and the uncertainty surrounding left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu, who is on the 10-day injured list with neck tightness, will be key issues to monitor in the hours leading up to Toronto's game in Minnesota against the Twins on Friday night.
MLB insider Shi Davidi addressed both situations in an appearance on the Good Show on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Friday morning.
X-rays on Gurriel's came back negative though he received two stitches on his right middle finger after his hand was inadvertently stepped on by Randal Grichuk.
If the hot-hitting Gurriel has to miss time, one option is to move slumping designated hitter George Springer back into the outfield -- something the Jays have resisted with their big off-season dealing with a lingering knee issue. Springer has done some work in the outfield in recent days.
“If it is more significant than (Gurriel being out more than a couple days with his injury) and Springer is continuing to trend toward a return, you could potentially play him in right or in left ... The best defensive alignment has been this year when Springer was in centre, Grichuk was in right and Teoscar (Hernandez) was in left," Davidi said.
"If you just flip-flop Springer and Grichuk, and Grichuk is very capable in centre field, that’s not going to be an issue. I certainly think that’s a possibility. The Blue Jays have wanted to free up the DH not just for that reason but as a way to manage the workload for some of the other every-day guys."
Despite his struggles at the plate, Davidi thinks Springer should be in the lineup every game as a DH or outfielder.
"The only reason you sit George Springer is if he’s going to be putting his knee in some risk of worsening the injury," Davidi said. "As long as he’s not in risk of doing that, he plays."
Meanwhile, Davidi said the plan is for Ryu to return to the rotation for the opener of a huge three-game series against the visiting New York Yankees next Tuesday.
Ryu missed his last start after giving up a combined 12 earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings in his past two outings.
"Ryu is very convenient for everybody to dump on him now, but Ryu was the bedrock for this team for the majority of the season ... What are you going to do that’s going to be better than Ryu right now?" Davidi said.
In the last start before the rough two-game stretch, Ryu shut out the Yankees over six innings.