Munenori Kawasaki Called Up by Blue Jays to Replace Injured Jose Reyes

Munenori Kawasaki - Otto Greule Jr

Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports tweeted this morning that the Toronto Blue Jays have recalled the energetic and very GIF-able infielder Munenori Kawasaki (川﨑 宗則) from the Buffalo Bisons to replacone the roster spot of the energetic and very GIF-able shortstop Jose Reyes, who injured his ankle in Friday night's game against the Kansas City Royals.

This has not been confirmed by the Blue Jays or the Toronto beat reporters. Rosenthal is pretty reliable for his breaks, so chances are that Kawasaki is headed to Kansas City, but it is likely that the Jays are considering other options at the moment and are waiting until later to make an official move. This morning, the Dunedin Blue Jays announced that Brett Lawrie, who was playing there on a rehab assignment, was scratched from the game tonight. He might just be travelling to Kansas City as well. [See update below]

Kawasaki is not on the 40-man roster, and currently the roster has 39 members, so no corresponding roster move is necessary to add him. Maicer Izturis was not available for Friday night's game due to pain after fouling a ball off of his foot on Thursday. Once he recovers, he would be the Blue Jays' starting shortstop with Kawasaki backing up the middle infield positions.

Jose Reyes will likely be placed on the 15-day disabled list in order to free up a spot on the 25-man roster. Alex Anthopoulos told the media that Reyes may miss one to three months, and that he will have an MRI done today. Rosenthal further reported that the club might not be able to fully assess the injury until a second MRI due to swelling. What I read from this is that unless there is obvious and significant damage in Reyes' ankle, the club might want to remain hopeful, and avoid placing him on the 60-day DL.

Should he join the Blue Jays in Kansas City, Kawasaki would become the club's fourth ethnic Japanese player, following Michael Nakamura, Tomo Ohka, and Ryota Igarashi. The 31-year old started his career with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2000 and played with them through the 2011 season. He made the leap over to North America in 2012 when he signed a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners with a chance to make the club out of spring training. He indeed found himself a place on the 25-man roster coming out of the gate last year and made his debut on April 7 going 1-for-4 with an RBI. He had mighty struggles at the plate last year, hitting a paltry .192/.257/.202 in 115 plate appearances for a wRC+ of 35, although his BABIP was just .233.

The Blue Jays signed Kawasaki to a minor league deal in mid-spring training and he has appeared in just two games for the Bisons, going 2-for-5 with an RBI along with a couple each of strikeouts and walks. Buffalo had been rained out for four straight days, so that stopped Kawasaki from getting more playing time.

Thankfully, Bluebird Banter writers Ian Wisniewski and Jared Macdonald were present to see one of the games Kawasaki played in. Ian saw Kawasaki's Buffalo debut against Rochester as a shortstop, and he went 2-for-3 with two walks, scoring two runs and bringing one in. Ian noticed that Kawasaki tended to be positioned close to second base, leaving a large hole to his right. Kawasaki also "does a deep squat between every pitch in the field and is very fidgety at bat." Jared wasn't impressed with Kawasaki's work in the field, especially his arm as his throws to first were consistently low.

Kawasaki signed as an amateur free agent in 2012 and has never been optioned to the minors, so he would not need to go through waivers to be sent back down to Buffalo.

I am interested to see Kawasaki with the club because he does produce some quality GIFs, but I don't think anyone would be happier to see him on the Blue Jays than Casper Wells, who must be excited for a reunion with his close (very close) buddy from Seattle:

Munenori1

via Lookout Landing

UPDATE

As expected, the Blue Jays have officially announced that they have selected the contract of Munenori Kawasaki from Buffalo and have placed Jose Reyes on the 15-day disabled list with a left ankle sprain. Of course, Reyes will not be coming back in 15 days, but the Blue Jays remain hopeful that Reyes would be back in less than 60 days. If his condition turns out to be worse, he could always be shifted to the 60-day DL (backdated to April 12) to create a spot on the 40-man roster.

UPDATE 2

Via Brendan Kennedy, Munenori Kawasaki be wearing #66 for the Blue Jays:

The only Blue Jays to have worn that number was Juan Guzman, from 1991-1995. Kawasaki also wore #66 in the two games with the Buffalo Bisons. He wore #61 with the Seattle Mariners, but that number is already assigned to bullpen catcher Alex Andreopoulos.

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