Time to stop all the talk about who will spell Michael Saunders in left field until he's ready to return to the Blue Jays lineup. The former Mariner seems to have surprised just about everyone this morning stating his intention to be ready for Opening Day which is about three months early than the initial prognosis. That announcement is certainly good news for the team regardless of how many home runs Kevin Pillar hits in Spring Training.
If you'll recall, about a week and a half ago it was reported that the British Columbia native had seriously tore the meniscus in his knee after stepping on an underground sprinkler soft spot at the Blue Jays complex in Dunedin. Some good and bad news followed shortly after as apparently Saunders elected to just have the meniscus removed during surgery which greatly reduces recovery time, while also increasing the risk of arthritis later on in life. The news gets even better with Saunders thinking he can make it back to the team without missing any regular season time at all, although it may be just an overly-optimistic outlook.
Arden Zwelling provided us with the great Friday morning tidbit:
Michael Saunders update! He played catch yesterday, got up to 80-90 feet, felt great. Today hoping to take some swings off a tee. #BlueJays— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) March 6, 2015
Saunders is hoping to be ready for opening day in NY. Feels confident about it. Knee has responded to everything very well so far. #BlueJays— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) March 6, 2015
Saunders has been standing in with live pitchers during their bullpens to keep his timing and eyes fresh. Working to limit rust. #BlueJays— Arden Zwelling (@ArdenZwelling) March 6, 2015
A lot of talk around these parts has gone towards why there is such a discrepancy between recovering time for athletes returning from meniscus injuries and it mainly boils down to the fact that undergoing a meniscectomy, a removal of the meniscus, has a much quicker recovery time than a knee that has its meniscus only repaired. That's why Victor Martinez is also planning to be back in April after going down to a similar injury a short time ago and subsequently having a meniscectomy.
For the Blue Jays this can't be seen as anything but good news as their left field position is still paper-thin with Kevin Pillar projecting much better as a fourth outfielder than an out-and-out starter in April. The Saunders news will only serve to make the competition with Pillar for the final outfield roster spot more fierce with Andy Dirks soon returning from injury as well as Ezequiel Carrera making a push to crack the team.
Fans of the Jays can only hope that Saunders is able to return to full health in early-April and is able to stay injury-free during the season, which is something he's never really been able to do during his career. The most games he's ever played during one year is 139, with most of his seasons coming well short of that figure. This injury scare could be seen as a warning shot at the front office, who appeared to be lacking any real answer on how an absence of Saunders would be handled by the current players in the organization. Thankfully we may never have to know the answer.