After pulling up lame on Wednesday night, the Toronto Blue Jays sent Josh Donaldson to the 10-day disabled list with a calf strain, and brought up Chris Coghlan in his stead.
It wasn’t a sight Blue Jays fans wanted to see. Their MVP, their All-Star, pulling up lame after lashing a double for a drought-busting RBI. But as Josh Donaldson walked off the field on Wednesday night, accompanied by trainer George Poulos, a nation braced for the news that they would be without the Bringer of Rain for the next few days.
On Thursday, the Blue Jays made it official, placing Donaldson on the 10-day DL with a strained calf, and they purchased the contract of utility bat Chris Coghlan from AAA Buffalo to replace him. Coghlan is on the bench for tonight’s second game with the Baltimore Orioles.
— Shi Davidi (@ShiDavidi) April 14, 2017
Donaldson suffered the calf injury in spring training and it’s been bothering him ever since. It resurfaced while playing in Tampa against the Rays, and is the reason he was limited to pinch-hitting and designated hitting duties against the Brewers. Manager John Gibbons confirmed that it is essentially the same injury that’s caused this DL stint and after sleeping on it, the decision was made to sit the 31-year-old down for some extended rest.
This is a disastrous blow for the worst offense in the major leagues. Donaldson was the only Blue Jays regular who was hitting above .300, with an OPS above 1.000. He had two home runs and four runs batted in, including the only one in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Baltimore. Without the former AL MVP in the lineup, Gibbons has had to resort to Darwin Barney and Ryan Goins at third base, which does nothing to help the scoring woes plaguing this team.
Perhaps this is where Coghlan comes in, at least against right-handers. As detailed when he signed a minor-league deal following his (sweet) release from the Phillies, the 31-year-old lefty bat has had a lot of success against northpaws in his career. He has a career .268 average against RHPs, which is better than almost any starting Blue Jays batter this season. He swings a banjo against southpaws, slashing a paltry .226, but the Blue Jays are fine without Coghlan in the lineup against left-handers. They already know how to hit them.
Another asset Coghlan brings is more versatility. In his career, the former NL Rookie of the Year has played second base, third base and across the outfield, which gives Gibbons more options building his lineup. With Coghlan, Steve Pearce and even Ryan Goins, the Blue Jays can make sure they have the match-ups they want without sacrificing defense.
#BlueJays see Chris Coghlan as someone who "can play everywhere," 3B included per Gibbons. Where's Coghlan most comfortable? "In the lineup"
— Ben Nicholson-Smith (@bnicholsonsmith) April 14, 2017
Definitely someone with the capability to quickly endear himself to Gibby. Coghlan also had an opt-out clause in his minor league deal at the end of the month, as Davidi pointed out on Twitter. It likely made the decision to bring the former Marlin, Cub and Athletic up north much easier.
The Blue Jays have yet to announce a corresponding roster move, since Coghlan needed to be added to the 40-man roster and the last spot was recently filled with the waiver acquisition of Ty Kelly from the Mets. With multiple catchers in Buffalo on that list and Mike Ohlman also down the QEW, it’s possible one of Luke Maile or Juan Graterol could be the designated cut.
UPDATE [6:30 PM]: MLB.com has confirmed that Graterol is the casualty. He has been removed from the Blue Jays 40-man roster and replaced by Coghlan in their records.
*Featured Image via Bliss Nogueira