The Blue Jays may be dealing with yet another injury absence, as Rowdy Tellez suffered a mild left hamstring strain that forced him out of today’s 10-8 victory over the Phillies. While batting in the eighth inning, Tellez slipped on home plate after hitting a line drive to left field, as a would-be double was limited to a single since Tellez was moving gingerly down the first base line. Jays manager Charlie Montoyo told Sportsnet’s Arden Zwelling and other reporters that “there’s a good chance” Tellez would be placed on the 10-day injured list.
An injury would compound that has already been a very tough start to the season for Tellez. After seemingly breaking out during the 2020 season, Tellez has hit only .188/.225/.282 with two home runs over 89 plate appearances this year. Despite making a lot of hard contact, Tellez has only a .222 BABIP and has only two walks against 20 strikeouts. The Jays already sent Tellez down to the alternate training site in April as a result of his struggles, and it’s possible he would still in the minors if he wasn’t needed to help fill a hole on Toronto’s injury-plagued roster.
With Tellez likely to join George Springer, Joe Panik, and Alejandro Kirk on the IL, the Jays may need to make a 40-man roster adjustment to add another position player (unless they’re willing to play with a very short bench). Such MLB-experienced players such as Tyler White, Dilson Herrera, Breyvic Valera, and Richard Urena are at Triple-A but would need to have their contracts selected to the 40-man before being able to join the big league team.
Injuries were naturally a big topic of discussion when Toronto GM Ross Atkins met with the media prior to today’s game. Speaking to Zwelling, Sportnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith (Twitter links) and other reporters, Atkins gave a positive update on right-hander Thomas Hatch, who has yet to pitch this season due to a right elbow impingement. Hatch is on pace to be activated from the 60-day IL when first eligible, as he is up to three innings of work at a time. Capable of working as a starter, reliever, or in a swingman role, Hatch could be a valuable asset to Toronto’s pitching staff is he is able to return healthy.
Top prospect Nate Pearson would also naturally be a boon to the rotation if he is able to live up to his potential, but Pearson has dealt with a number of setbacks this year — a groin injury that delayed his season debut to May 9, a rough performance in that first outing, and then a demotion to Triple-A. Pearson will now miss his next Triple-A start due to a minor shoulder impingement, but Atkins says the Jays “don’t expect him to miss too much time at all.”
With Pearson a question mark and the Blue Jays rotation still in need of help, all eyes have turned to Alek Manoah, whose first two Triple-A starts have resulted in 12 scoreless innings. Selected 11th overall in the 2019 draft, Manoah was ranked 79th on Keith Law’s preseason top-100 prospects ranking and 83rd on the Baseball Prospectus list, and the right-hander has now slipped into the current top-100 listings of Baseball America (93rd) and MLB Pipeline (98th).
Manoah’s performance has naturally also caught the eye of the Jays front office, as Atkins said “he’s making that [a promotion] very much something that we’re discussing and talking about….The objective and subjective views of how effective he will be at the major league level are all really encouraging. He absolutely maximized his off-season and maximized Spring Training, and he’s getting absolutely every ounce out of Triple-A baseball right now.”
When Manoah might make his debut is still up in the air. The 23-year-old did lose a season of proper minor league development in 2020, his time at the alternate training site last season was shortened due to a bout of COVID-19, and Manoah’s two Triple-A appearances are his only games played above the low-A ball level. As Zwelling noted, however, the fact that the Blue Jays began Manoah’s season at Triple-A rather than Double-A is likely a sign that the team has confidence that Manoah is ready for a somewhat aggressive promotion if he keeps impressing in the upper minors.