Blue Jays outfielder hurt stepping on sprinkler head
(ISN) – DUNEDIN, Fla. — Blue Jays outfielder Michael Saunders has a torn meniscus in his left knee and is expected to be out until the All-Star break.
Saunders sustained the severe injury while chasing a ball during batting practice on Wednesday morning. He stepped on a soft patch of grass that surrounded the head of a sprinkler and heard “a pop.”
The injury was revealed by the Blue Jays on Thursday morning, which is the same day position players were required to report for their physicals. Saunders had been in camp since earlier this month to get a jump-start on preparations for the season.
“My foot got jammed,” a visibly dejected Saunders told a group of reporters on Thursday. “To be honest, I don’t know exactly how it happened. It stopped me in my tracks and I heard a pop. I was scared to find out, so I just did my best to get off the field and not draw any attention until I saw the training staff.”
Saunders was acquired from Seattle during the offseason for left-hander J.A. Happ. The 28-year-old has spent the past couple of months telling anyone who would listen how excited he was to be joining a team that played in his home country.
The native of Victoria, British Columbia, has represented Baseball Canada multiple times and was a participant in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. The trade to Toronto was a return home, even though he’s from the West Coast, and the injury news clearly has taken a toll on him. Saunders admitted the rehab likely will be more mentally difficult than physically.
“Last night was really tough for me, especially when we got the prognosis,” said Saunders, who is expected to have surgery scheduled within a couple of days. “I know I’m going to be in good hands. I know I’m going to be OK. It could be worse. It’s not an ACL. We double checked on it, so that’s a positive.
“My goal is to be in Major League games by the All-Star break, and hopefully sooner. I’m going to work hard to make sure I get back as soon as possible. The biggest thing for me to overcome is to make sure my mind is in the right place.”
Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said he expects to fill Saunders’ vacancy in left field with internal options. Kevin Pillar, Ezequiel Carrera and Andy Dirks are the early favorites to win the job out of Spring Training, while Dalton Pompey likely will remain in centre field.
This marks the second consecutive season that Saunders has been forced to endure a rather serious injury. Last year in Seattle, it was a shoulder injury that limited him to 78 games. Saunders had since made a full recovery, and he was expected to have a major role on Toronto’s roster as the starting left fielder and No. 6 hitter.
“I just think I basically am going to have to listen to my body, more than anything,” Saunders said. “I’ve never had any issues with my knees. I’m young, everything is working in my favor moving forward … I will be working my [tail] off to make sure that I’m ready to go as soon as possible.”