Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins says injured outfielder George Springer is day-to-day with a strained left oblique muscle and could be available when Toronto plays its first game at its temporary home in Dunedin, Fla.
“There’s a real chance he’s ready to go and at the 100-per-cent strength level as soon as he’s eligible, which would be our first game back home in Dunedin,” Atkins said Friday. “But can’t guarantee that and want to make sure that progresses very well.
“He feels better and better every day and now we can get him in to seeing live reps and getting back into that full baseball mode and not just full baseball strength.”
The Blue Jays play host to the Los Angeles Angels next Thursday in their home opener.
Springer was placed on the 10-day injured list retroactive to Monday with the injury, which has delayed his debut with the Blue Jays.
Toronto signed Springer as a free agent to a US$150-million, six-year contract over the off-season.
Atkins said Springer likely could have played in Toronto’s 3-2 season-opening win over the Yankees in New York on Thursday, but at this point in the season the Blue Jays want to ensure players are at 100 per cent.
“It’s a matter of thinking about the entire season, thinking about where we are in the season, and what it would have meant if he did play,” Atkins said. “The days off after, obviously would he be at full strength versus not, and the potential downside risk of that.”
Springer, the 2017 World Series MVP with Houston, was scratched from a game on March 9 because of tightness in his abdominal muscles and did not play in any exhibitions after March 21. The 31-year-old hit .240 with one homer and two runs batted in through 25 at-bats over 10 spring training games.
Atkins also said starting pitcher Robbie Ray is recovering well from a bruised left elbow and could return soon, and that injured pitchers Nate Pearson (right adductor strain) and Thomas Hatch (right elbow impingement) are throwing without pain. All three were placed on the DL retroactive to Monday.
“Really encouraged by [Ray’s] bounce-back,” Atkins said. “He’s throwing with 100-per-cent aggression and feeling much more like the Robbie Ray that he was before the injury.”
Atkins said Ray’s return will depend on when he can get back to a comfortable 80 pitch count, and added the team will get a clearer idea of how close he is after the next couple of live batting practices and throwing sessions.