MLB

Blue Jays' Springer nearing Toronto debut, could return for Rays series

By Sports Desk April 22, 2021

Toronto Blue Jays star George Springer is moving closer to his long-awaited debut following an injury-hit start to life with the MLB franchise.

Springer was lured to Toronto on a six-year, $150million contract from the Houston Astros via free agency – the largest deal in Blue Jays history – but injuries have prevented the 2017 World Series champion and MVP from debuting for the MLB hopefuls.

The three-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger had been nearing a return from a left oblique strain, but tightness in his right quad has sidelined Springer.

However, Springer will play in Friday's intra-squad game and could make his much-anticipated Blue Jays bow in the upcoming three-game series against American League (AL) East rivals the Tampa Bay Rays, with the final two games played on Saturday and Sunday.

"He's excited; we're exceptionally excited," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said on Thursday. "Tomorrow is a great day for George.

"He's doing all baseball activity, he's extremely confident and strong. Now it's just a matter of recovery and putting him in a position to play nine innings and feel like he can face elite major league pitching.

"Tomorrow will be a very important day to determine what that next step is and what's best for him."

Heading into the 2021 season, Springer had led MLB with 136 home runs from the lead-off spot since 2015.

Springer has 39 lead-off home runs in his career – fourth most all-time behind Rickey Henderson (73), Ian Kinsler (48) and Brady Anderson (44).

The 31-year-old Springer has recorded seven career World Series home runs – most from the lead-off spot all-time – and he is 19-for-56 (.339) in the World Series in his career. No other current Blue Jays player has a World Series hit in their career.

Springer's 174 home runs since debuting in MLB via Houston are third most by an Astro in a player's first seven career seasons, behind only Jeff Bagwell (187) and Lance Berkman (180).

Meanwhile, in another boost for the Blue Jays, star Nate Pearson (groin) will start and pitch two-three innings in Friday's intra-squad game.

The Blue Jays (8-10) are third in the AL East, behind leaders the Boston Red Sox (12-7) and Rays (10-9).

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