The Blue Jays announced a series of moves today, reinstating catcher Danny Jansen from the injured list while recalling infielder Ernie Clement and right-hander Bowden Francis. To open spots for those three, catcher Tyler Heineman was optioned, righty Adam Cimber went on the paternity list and first baseman Brandon Belt was placed on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to June 11, with left hamstring inflammation.
Belt, 35, had spent his entire career with the Giants until recently, signing with the Jays this winter on a one-year, $9.3MM deal. It was a risky play for the club since Belt slashed a subpar .213/.326/.350 last year for a 96 wRC+ as he battled various ailments and eventually underwent season-ending knee surgery. But the Jays were surely hoping that the procedure could help him bounce back to the form he showed in 2020 and 2021. Over those two campaigns, he hit a combined .285/.393/.595. That amounted to a 162 wRC+, which trailed only Juan Soto and Bryce Harper among all hitters in the league with at least 550 plate appearances.
He got out to a slow start with his new club, as he was hitting just .169/.246/.288 through the end of April. But he’s slashed an excellent .323/.452/.527 since the calendar flipped to May to bring his overall batting line to .263/.378/.434 and a wRC+ of 130. He’s struck out in 37.2% of his trips to the plate but also walked in 15% of them.
Subtracting a bat of that caliber is an unwelcome development for the Jays, though Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet relays that the club is hoping for a minimum stint. Belt departed Saturday’s game with left hamstring tightness and the Jays took a couple of days to decide whether the issue was serious enough to warrant an IL stint. Since the move is backdated, he could be back in just over a week if it indeed proves to be a minor issue.
With Vladimir Guerrero Jr. at first base most days, Belt had seen more time as the designated hitter than in the field. The one silver lining of Belt’s absence is that there should be more opportunities to rotate other players through there in the meantime for some partial rest.