KANSAS CITY, Mo. — It was the news no one in the Blue Jays’ organization wanted to hear.
Certainly, the kind of news which catcher Danny Jansen didn’t need to hear … again.
During a plate appearance on Monday, Jansen took a 96.7-mph sinker off his left hand. Not only did he stay in the game, but he caught the final two innings.
On the surface, the Jays had dodged a bullet, but further imaging after the game revealed a fracture just behind the pinky finger on Jansen’s left hand.
The hard-luck Jays catcher just can’t catch a break.
The finger is Jansen’s latest injury. It follows a strained left oblique, and a hamstring injury last season. There were also two hand surgeries and one knee surgery, all as he navigated the minor leagues.
And now, another test both for Jansen individually, and for the Jays as a team.
Zack Collins is the initial benefactor, returning to the Jays where he had about a 20-game stint earlier in the year when Jansen was out with that oblique strain.
But don’t rule out the Jays sooner, rather than later, calling up Gabriel Moreno, their top minor-league prospect, from triple-A Buffalo.
Through 35 games in Buffalo, Moreno is hitting .323 with a homer, eight doubles and 23 RBIs.
General manager Ross Atkins sounded optimistic that Jansen’s absence wouldn’t be that long, based on how he was feeling both immediately after he was struck by the pitch and through the remainder of the game.
“From the CT scan, it’s stable in nature,” Atkins said of the Jansen injury. “We feel confident he will be able to get back into game action at least relatively soon, but he’s going to be down for at least a couple of weeks. After 10 days we will know a lot more. That’s unfortunate, but I do feel good about his return being relatively soon.”
As for Moreno, that sounds like a decision the Jays need a little more time to contemplate.
“Yeah, it’s definitely a fair question and one we try not to make within 15 minutes,” Atkins said. “We just learned about Jan-o’s fracture being there this morning.”
Alejandro Kirk, like Jansen, has been swinging a hot bat of late and he will handle the bulk of the duties in Jansen’s absence, but it remains to be seen how many days a week Kirk can catch.
Manager Charlie Montoyo was initially at a bit of a loss for words when asked about yet another injury to his catcher.
“Umm, how can I say this?” Montoyo said. “It flipping sucks. Not just as a player but as a human being, I love that kid. I really do. He’s having a good year and then this happens? Just like last year with the hamstring. It’s been injury after injury and then he comes back and gets going again and that’s a credit to him and his work ethic and what he does while he’s hurt trying to get better. He’s probably one of the best catchers in baseball. That’s tough luck.”
While dropping the bad news about Jansen, Atkins had some potentially positive news about pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu, who was put on the injured list before this road trip because of a strain in both his forearm and elbow.
On Thursday, Ryu will visit with Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who is the team physician for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.
“On the positive side we are optimistic that there is nothing terribly significant but we do see some chronic changes to the elbow that we want to make sure we are doing what is best for him,” Atkins said. “Obviously we will make that decision with him and we will know more when he gets back from that visit.”
The hope is the injury is more wear and tear than anything more serious.
“There is nothing that jumps out that says he re-injured this from pitching,” Atkins said. “Chronic happens over time so there are some residual changes that we want to dig further into and see if conservative is still the best way to handle it.”
Atkins and the Jays have the benefit of having Ross Stripling on the roster. Stripling jumped into the starting spot vacated by Ryu, but in the event of another starter being needed at some point, Atkins said the team has some different options.
“Right now, probably Thomas Hatch,” Atkins said when asked which starter would be next up if one were needed. “We are open to thinking of different options. Casey Lawrence has obviously been very, very good for us. Max Castillo has been awesome down in triple-A, so there are different ways to think about that.
“But if you were just saying who is the next person in line, well Thomas Hatch is on our roster and he has been throwing the ball well recently and we have seen what he has been able to do before,” Atkins said.
WHAT A NIGHT
Matt Gage, the 29-year-old rookie who made his major-league debut in relief the ninth inning of Monday’s game, was still feeling the reverberations from his first taste of the big leagues a day later.
A clean 1-2-3 inning, which included a pair of strikeouts, set off a celebration that was felt across baseball for just about everyone who has been a part of his journey.
But the initial celebration was with his inner circle, almost all of whom found their way to Kansas City for the big moment.
In that group were his wife, both parents, his father-in-law, his brother and his brother’s wife as well as his agent.
“They were speechless,” Gage said. “A lot of happy tears. It was just fun to have them be a part of this. To have them be able to fly out here and make it work … I mean they are staying through the series so maybe I get to pitch another time, but if not, they were here for the first one.”