With the news that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. will only miss a few weeks with a strained left oblique, the Toronto Blue Jays can now use this to their advantage.
When news first broke that Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had suffered an injury, there was some understandable concern. After all, with the 2019 season set to be a tough one for Toronto Blue Jays‘ fans to endure, he was arguably the main reason to continue watching the team.
Fortunately for everyone concerned, the strained left oblique suffered by Guerrero Jr. is nothing long-term. As per Sportsnet‘s Hazel Mae, he is only expected to be sidelined for around three weeks.
The injury apparently happened on Friday during a spring training game and is only a Grade 1 strain. In this respect, the Blue Jays now have the excuse they’ve been looking for.
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The team has received a lot of criticism with the charade surrounding their reluctance to give Guerrero Jr. his Major League debut on opening day. The official line was that he still needed to work on several aspects of his game and wouldn’t be ready to play in the Majors until around mid-April.
Everyone knew this delay was so that the Blue Jays could gain an extra year of control for the top-rated prospect. The team just couldn’t admit it.
Interestingly, the MLBPA were still keeping an eye on the situation. As reported recently by the Toronto Sun‘s Rob Longley, a players association source told him:
"“It’s something we are following and it’s going to be an issue. Service-time manipulation has been a prominent theme that the players association has emphasized in its talks with Major League Baseball.”"
Ironically, even before the injury, there were signs that the Blue Jays might actually have a genuine reason to hold Guerrero Jr. back from making his Major League debut on opening day. The reality is that he has struggled so far at the plate during spring training.
Consider that the 19-year-old has a poor slash line of .211/.250/.316 in 19 at-bats. He has just a single RBI, and is looking nothing like a player regarded as one of the best natural hitters in a long time.
There is also the issue of Guerrero Jr.’s weight. While he is a big guy anyway, he will still need to have some control over his size, in order to maximise his talent in the Majors.
The Montreal, Quebec native was unavailable to talk on Sunday. However, as per Sportsnet‘s Arden Zwelling, general manager Ross Atkins spoke on his behalf:
"“You know Vladdy, he’s so upbeat and positive. The most discouraging thing for him is he’s not playing in baseball games. He loves to compete and loves to play. And he’ll see this as an opportunity to get better.”"
At the same time, the Blue Jays now have the opportunity to make sure Guerrero Jr. spends less than 172 days on their Major League roster in 2019, in order to gain that precious extra year of team control. All in all, the injury couldn’t have worked out better for them.
Perhaps the only worry is that oblique strains can be unpredictable, meaning the game’s number one prospect could be out longer than three weeks. However, even this doesn’t matter too much.
After all, the Toronto Blue Jays aren’t expected to be serious postseason contenders. In addition, any further delay will only increase the anticipation for Guerrero Jr.’s Major League debut, in what will likely be a long year for fans.
When do predict Guerrero Jr. will now make his Major League debut for the Toronto Blue Jays this coming season? Let us know in the comments section below.