Sportsnet's Arash Madani was the first to report that the Blue Jays have optioned Munenori Kawasaki to the Buffalo Bisons of the AAA International League and will be activating Jose Reyes from the 60-day disabled list, a move that was announced right after the Blue Jays' loss to the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday night.
In a little over two months with the club, Kawasaki had become one of the most popular players in Toronto. His fun-loving and goofy personality shone a bright light on the club that had started so horribly. He did much better than most people expected, although still not well enough to warrant a big league roster spot. He was hitting .225/.337/.325 with a .300 wOBA and 86 wRC+ when he was optioned, having earned 0.8 fWAR in 60 games played.
This may come as sad news to many Jays fans (including me). I loved his contribution to the team on and off the field. I loved his energy. I loved his love for baseball, of the way he seems so happy playing the game. That's why I started the whole "#WriteInKawasaki" campaign. But then I knew, that this was the best move to make for the Blue Jays, one that prevents (or at least delays) the loss of potentially valuable assets. Just remember: should any middle infielder falter, Kawasaki will likely get recalled to the big club. Meanwhile, he can sell some tickets and merchandise for the Buffalo Bisons. If you live in the southern Ontario area, you can easily get down to see him up close in a game in Buffalo. And by the time rosters expand in September, you just might see ol' #66 back on the carpet of the Rogers Centre.
It's not like the players are happy about this either. According to Shi Davidi, manager John Gibbons made sure to gather all the players together to announce the move to allow everyone to give their hugs and good lucks to Kawasaki. Tonight's starter Mark Buehrle has been in the game for a while, but told John Lott that he does not remember any team gathering for the announcement of a move like this, and that he was very special to his teammates. He was special to all of us too.
Great job Kawasaki!! You will be back soon we're going to miss you— Edwin Encarnacion (@Encadwin) June 26, 2013
Kawasaki, reached for comments after learning of his demotion, gave some quite poignant quotes:
"It's not as if I've died. I'm still a baseball player; it's just that tomorrow the field will be different." (via Brendan Kennedy)
"This one strange Japanese guy to come here and be accepted the way I have has really been an unbelievable experience." (via Shi Davidi)
As expected, righty Ramon Ortiz has been moved from the 15- to the 60-day disabled list, which removes him from the limits of the 40-man roster. Ortiz suffered from a strained right elbow after a pitch on June 2 against the Padres, and like Reyes, was removed from the field in tears. The earliest he can return to the mound for the Blue Jays will be August 2.
It's important to keep in mind that these two moves were made in order for the Blue Jays to bring a beloved All-Star shortstop back onto the team. Jose Reyes is a Blue Jay, guys.