ST. PETERSBURG, Florida – All things considered, an MRI's diagnosis of what the Blue Jays are calling "mild inflammation" of Jose Reyes' left hamstring is the best result for which the player and club could have hoped.
"It is a relief. That's good news," said Reyes. "Just showed some inflammation there, no damage at all. Just need some rest, should be fine and back to play."
If Reyes misses only the next 15 days, the minimum required length of his disabled list stint, the Blue Jays dodge a bullet and in more than one way. Reyes comes back at the soonest possible time and the club isn't left to wonder if it was a foolish idea to bring its star shortstop to Montreal.
"We wouldn't have put him out there if we didn't feel confident," said manager John Gibbons. "He had a few days off, figured it was a minor thing, gotta test it sooner or later, right? He came out of the game feeling good. He even tested it on the back field before he left, so yeah. It's one of those things that happen."
"We did some tests, I passed those tests," Reyes said in defence of the decision to play at Olympic Stadium. "I was able to play through it like that. I played through it those two games there. I don't want to say I feel great, but I feel okay to play and then I come here (Monday,) feel better than I did in Montreal and you see what happened. Hamstrings are tricky, man."
Reyes is eligible to return from the disabled list on April 16, when the Jays are scheduled to conclude a three-game series in Minneapolis, the sixth game of a nine-game trip to visit the Orioles, Twins and Indians.
The 30-year-old admits to frustration, wanting nothing more than to play a full season healthy after a severely sprained left ankle cost him 66 games last year, Reyes' first as a Blue Jay. Playing on Astroturf is a challenge on players' bodies, the Blue Jays will on 91 occasions out of 162 games, but Reyes says he can't worry about it. He's powerless to change his home stadium's surface.
"The turf is going to be there, that's our home so I have to deal with it," said Reyes. "Find a routine so I can stay on the field and play for this team."
Jonathan Diaz, a 12th round pick of the Blue Jays in 2006 who returned to the franchise in the offseason, will take Reyes' roster spot for the time being.
Generously listed at 5'9", Diaz isn't in town to replace Reyes. He'd best be described as an all-glove, no-bat player. When he plays, he'll hit at the bottom of the order. Others were considered for the call up, like cult-hero Munenori Kawasaki and second baseman Chris Getz, but general manager Alex Anthopoulos and Gibbons are prioritizing defence and don't believe they lose much with a Diaz-Ryan Goins middle infield.
"He's the best shortstop we got out there," said Gibbons. "He's really good out there."
Diaz gets first Big League hit
It was a long time coming for Jonathan Diaz. His fourth inning, two-out single was the first hit of his major league career. He also got his first career RBI on the play. The single scored Brett Lawrie, widening the Blue Jays lead to 4-0 over the Rays at the time.
Santos at home in closer's role
It's easy to forget the Blue Jays acquired Sergio Santos before the 2012 season to be their closer.
Santos has spent two injury-plagued seasons with Toronto and watched as Casey Janssen took to the closer's role.
Now, with Janssen on the disabled list nursing an abdominal strain, Santos has the opportunity to remind everyone he's up to the job.
"Any time an opportunity is presented to you, you want to make the most of it," said Santos. "That's all I want to do. I want to come in, you know if I get a couple of opportunities at that ninth inning role, come in, throw strikes and get the job done. Hopefully, I can build off of that and who knows what can happen?"
Santos had a career-high 30 saves for the White Sox in 2011. He has only three saves in a Blue Jays' uniform and has recorded the last out of a ballgame only ten times during his tenure in Toronto.