HOUSTON – While George Springer manages the pain, Charlie Montoyo must manage the player.
And just how that unfolds over the weekend here in Space City will be a curious and perhaps delicate bit of business for the Blue Jays.
On the one hand, Springer wants to play in his first active return to the city in which he was the big dog in the Astros run to the 2017 World Series title.
On the other, the after effects of taking a 95 mph fastball to the wrist – which Springer did in Boston on Wednesday night – may take more than 48 hours to wane.
All involved are pretty much acknowledging it might not have been the wisest move for Springer to enter Thursday’s game at Fenway as a pinch hitter. An awkward and painful swing and miss saw the Jays center fielder tumble to the ground in a heap, just one of the reasons Springer was not in the starting lineup here on Friday.
“It did not feel fantastic, but that’s all right I did not expect it to,” Springer said of that appearance as he prepared in the unfamiliar visitor’s clubhouse at Minute Maid Park. “Hopefully I’ll be back in there (on Saturday) and be ready to go.
“It’s just getting over the fact that I got hit in the wrist by a pretty decent fastball. It’s going to take a day or two to feel better, but I’ll be all right. ”
Springer is both a gamer and is driven to make up for lost time in 2021, a season in which he played in just 78 games for the Jays. But he’s also a realist and recalled a similar type hit by pitch in 2015 that sent him to the 15-day disabled list and eventually a 54-game hiatus from the Astros.
“I’ve been hit there before,” Springer said. “I got hit in almost the same spot and broke my hand. My first thought (on Wednesday) was I hope it’s not broken. I’m lucky it’s not.
“It’s one of these things I’ve got to get through it and I’ll be all right.”
So does getting through it mean the weekend off in Houston? Or does the team just evaluate Springer on a day-to-day basis and wait until the pain and swelling has all but subsided?
The man is used to playing through various degrees of pain in his career, but among the last things the Jays need now is a nagging wrist injury to their $ 150-million leadoff hitter.
“It’s getting there,” Springer said. “I try to play as much as I can, but unfortunately I got hit by a 95 mph fastball on the wrist. I’m going to have to manage it. I have to be smart. We’re only at Game 14, but I want to play (this weekend).
“Hopefully I’ll be in, but we’ve got to do the right thing.”
Montoyo admitted that Springer did not look good in the day after cameo at Fenway. Though the injury is listed as forearm inflammation, Springer described it as being closer to his wrist.
“He did not look as comfortable as we thought he was going to look,” the manager said prior to Friday’s game at Minute Maid.
While the Jays are expected to favor a cautious approach with Springer, they won’t rush Teoscar Hernandez back either.
But with news that the Jays cleanup man is taking his first few tentative swings since suffering an oblique strain on April 14, there is some optimism on that front.
“He was swinging the bat for the first time, of course it was lightly, but that’s good,” Montoyo said. “Hopefully (he’ll be back) in a week or so, but who knows? He’s got to swing the bat hard (first). If he pulls again, it’s another month or so. ”
WIZARD OF GAUS
Blue Jays starter Kevin Gausman said the clever Toronto Sun sports headline “Wizard of Gaus” that heralded his eight shutout innings on Thursday was not the first time he’s seen the catchy line, but he liked it just the same.
“It’s a good one because it means they know how to pronounce my name,” the right-handed starter joked.
As for the near complete game – which would have been the Jays first in a nine-inning contest since 2017 – Gausman’s pitching pals were still buzzing about it on Friday.
“That was a Greg Maddux,” Jays starter Alek Manoah said referring to the term for a complete game and less than 100 pitches. “That was the biggest thing we were talking about in the dugout: How many times do you get to watch a complete game under 100 pitches?”
To a man, the Jays starters were eyeballing the pitch count – 51 through five innings, 60 through six and 72 through seven.
“It was the eighth inning and we all looked at each other in the dugout and said no way is Charlie taking him out,” said Manoah, who gets the start here Saturday afternoon. “We can not let him take him out.
“I do not care what time of year it is, let him go out there and get that thing.”
The manager did not allow Gausman to start the ninth, but when he surrendered a leadoff single to Trevor Story, Montoyo summoned closer Jordan Romano.
How do you keep the pitch count so low? For one, you strike out eight and do not allow a walk. For another, you induce timely ground ball after timely ground ball, some of them to turn over easy double plays.
“What was the longest he was ever out on the mound?” Manoah said. “It was like five minutes.”