Instead of enjoying what was sure to be a warm reception in his return to the home of the organization that drafted him and provided the incubation for the first seven years of his big league career, Toronto Blue Jays outfielder George Springer will arrive in Houston impaired.
The Blue Jays will open a three-game road series against the Houston Astros Friday with Springer on the 10-day injured list. Springer, a ballyhooed free-agent signing after posting a .270/.361/.491 slash line with 174 home runs and 458 RBIs over 795 games with the Astros, missed the opening 22 games of the season with a left oblique strain.
He was reinstated late last month and slugged two homers with three RBIs in four games only to land back on the IL Monday with a right quad strain. He is expected to be sidelined for longer than 10 days.
Springer was a key cog of the Astros’ core that first arrived in the postseason in 2015 and claimed the organization’s first World Series title two years later. He was named MVP of that seven-game World Series victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers and was a three-time All-Star with the Astros.
He is expected to travel with the club to Houston from Oakland, where the Blue Jays earned a split of their four-game series against the Athletics with a 10-4 win Thursday.
Houston will undoubtedly fete Springer with a video tribute worthy of his many contributions in an Astros uniform. But for the Blue Jays, losing Springer for another prolonged period is a gut punch, particularly given that they have eight other players already on their injured list.
“He’s more encouraged by the day but obviously very frustrated,” Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said. “What’s been consistent with George is just his desire to play. The MRI results we have read will continue to get a more thorough assessment. But there was a re-aggravation of the injury, and we’ll determine timelines as we move forward.
“With the re-aggravation, there will be a minimal workload. And as we get other medical opinions, and dependent upon where the resources are used, this will be a time of rest.”
Right-hander Ross Stripling (0-1, 6.39 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season for the Blue Jays in the series opener. It will also mark his first career regular-season appearance against the Astros, against whom he faced three times in relief during the 2017 World Series and allowed two hits and one walk with one strikeout over two innings.
Right-hander Jose Urquidy (2-2, 3.71 ERA) will get the start for the Astros on Friday. Urquidy is coming off his first scoreless outing of the season, having allowed four hits and one walk with five strikeouts over seven innings in a 3-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on May 1 — his 26th birthday. It will mark the first career appearance against the Blue Jays for Urquidy.
The Astros salvaged the finale of their three-game set with the New York Yankees with a 7-4 win on Thursday and, in the process, finished their six-game road trip at 3-3. Now the Astros return home for a 10-game homestand with some positive momentum and the memory of going 6-2 on their previous homestand.
“It was real big,” Astros manager Dusty Baker said of the victory. “You didn’t want to go to four (losses) in a row because that’s how our last bad streak started.
“They say you play .500 on the road and .600-plus ball at home, so now it’s time for us to go home and start a run.”
–Field Level Media