Jonathan Diaz replaces injured Jose Reyes at shortstop

Jonathan Diaz
Jonathan Diaz replaces the oft-injured Jose Reyes at shortstop for the Blue Jays.

You could hear a collective groan break out across Canada after Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Jose Reyes was MIA when the players returned to their positions in Tropicana Field at the top of the second on Monday’s opening night game against the Rays. It was later confirmed Reyes suffered his second bout of “left hamstring tightness” this year after just one at-bat, and it was later confirmed he would be placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Eyes rolled, frustrated comments quickly made their way to Twitter and questions arose as to why the star shortstop was cleared to play in two exhibition games in Montreal on March 28-29 after experiencing the same issue that took him out of spring training on March 22.

Reyes admitted to reporters he never felt 100 percent going into the Montreal games against the Mets, but thought he was fine to play through the issue.

The announcement of his injury lead to the immediate assumption that chants of “Ka-wa-sa-ki” would once again erupt from the stands with fan favorite Munenori Kawasaki making his return to the bigs but, instead, 28-year-old Jonathan Diaz was called up from the Buffalo Bisons to take on the task.

Diaz, who now sports a No. 1 on the back of his major league jersey, reached a milestone in his first game as a Blue Jay on Tuesday with an RBI single off Alex Cobb in the fourth inning – his first big league hit.

I am going to put on my Negative Nancy hat and predict that, due to Reyes’ track record with similar injuries (which have subsequently lead to DL stints longer than 15 days), the latest one might lead to a longer-than-estimated absence. This, combined with his admission that playing on turf affects his hamstring and is something he has to figure out how to deal with, may also mean we will be seeing a lot more of Diaz at the beginning of the season than expected.

With that in mind, here are some notes to get us acquainted with the Jays’ new shortstop:

  • The infielder from Florida was the Blue Jays’ 12th-round pick in the 2006 draft.
  • Diaz spent most of his time in double-A with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, where he played 298 games – one of the highest totals in franchise history.
  • He appeared mostly at second base in 2013 with the Pawtucket Red Sox after signing as a minor-league free agent at the end of 2012.
  • His first major league stint lasted five games with the Red Sox last season, where he made his debut against the Blue Jays.
  • After 2013, Diaz returned to the organization that drafted him in another minor league deal.
  • This spring in Dunedin, Diaz racked up just three hits, seven runs, five walks and four strikeouts in 24 at-bats, registering a .125 batting average, but was recognized by manager John Gibbons as an elite defender.
  • His career high in home runs is two and his highest RBI output was in 2010 with just 43.
  • Throughout his career, Diaz has been credited for his versatility at second and third, in addition to his abilities at shortstop, and is often compared to former Toronto Blue Jay John McDonald.

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