“I’m honestly not going to go over there and screw around just yet,” Springer said Wednesday afternoon, shortly after his name was slotted in at leadoff as the DH against the Washington Nationals. “The guys who have been on it have been on point so far. I may mix in a song or two here and there.”
His looming debut was a boost for a Blue Jays club that’s fought through a series of injuries in the season’s opening month – including the oblique and quad strains that sidelined their prized off-season addition – and climbed back to .500 at 10-10 with Tuesday’s 9-5 win.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., backstopped that one with three home runs and seven RBIs and Springer said, “man, it’s exciting to hit in front of him.” He’s been impressed with the quality of the 22-year-old’s at-bats all season long, as well as his club’s resilience, appreciating “the way everybody has fought, next man up and keep on going.”
As for his own status, Springer decided it was time to jump back in once he was able to “trust myself with my progress.” The groundwork for his Blue Jays debut was laid over the past week at the alternate training site, participating in games over the weekend, and transitioning into big-league games against players nearly a month into their season won’t be easy.
“Honestly, I can’t feel sorry for myself – I know the guys on the other side won’t,” said Springer. “It doesn’t matter if they’re a month ahead, a week ahead, I’ve got to go out there and compete and be professional – I’ve got to play hard. It’s not about the results early. I understand that. I’m not going to complain about it. It is what it is. I’m the one who got hurt, not them, so I’m going to compete my butt off and whatever happens, happens.”
The decision to DH rather than play centre field in his first game back was designed more to ease him back into action, with a day off Thursday building in a day of recovery. Suiting up Wednesday, rather than taking another day of recovery before playing Friday, was settled on because, “I want to play. I’m sick and tired of being on the IL and not being out there with the guys. I had an opportunity to play today and I said absolutely.”
As for physical hurdles he needed to clear before returning, “there wasn’t anything in particular,” said Springer. “I understand that with adrenaline, big-league lights, the stage that I’m probably going to run a little bit harder and understand the game. As long as I can feel comfortable with what I’m doing right now and understand my body to make sure that one, I trust it, and two, I’m OK with it in the game, I’m just going to play.”
The Blue Jays optioned Rowdy Tellez to the alternate training site to clear room for Springer. Hyun-Jin Ryu, meanwhile, was placed on the injured list with a minor glute strain and Travis Bergen was recalled.