Jose Reyes injury could shuffle the Toronto Blue Jays deck

Jose Reyes grabs his ankle after sliding into second base.
Jose Reyes’ injury further amplifies the Toronto Blue Jays’ poor start. ((John Sleezer/MCT)

It would have been better had Jose Reyes broken his ankle.

You know the situation is pretty grim when that’s the first thing you hear concerning an injury. When the fleet-footed Toronto Blue Jays shortstop slid into second for his fifth stolen base of the season, he never stood back up. He fell back, clutched his ankle and immediately started shifting around in obvious, uncomfortable pain.

And now GM Alex Anthopoulos said he expects Jose Reyes to miss about three months with a severe ankle sprain. Analysts are saying that time could have been substantially shorter had Reyes broke his ankle. Either way, it’s a huge blow to Toronto.

A quick look at Jose Reyes’ statistics show he’s one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dull start for the Blue Jays. And now with his absence, Anthopoulos has to perform what any GM hates to hear so early in the season: damage control.

The team’s offense is going to take a big hit. Jose Reyes was playing like the prototype leadoff hitter, leading the team in batting average, on-base percentage and stolen bases. And with no errors yet, his defensive capabilities will be missed as well. Considering how he’s performed, it’s easy to say he’s been the most effective player in a Blue Jays uniform this year; even better than the other Jose, the much-lauded Jose Bautista.

For the moment, Munenori Kawasaki has been called up from triple-A Buffalo to temporarily stop the bleeding. But Anthopolous knows this won’t be sufficient for three months, saying he’s already started to call around the league for a suitable replacement.

But don’t expect an all-star to don Toronto blue; Jose Reyes is projected to come back just around the all-star break, after all. Anthopoulos said the replacement he’s looking for is a stop-gap solution who could help with depth upon Jose Reyes’ return. But this is undoubtedly an important development for the Jays in the early going.

This could mean a lot of things for the team. The lineup could change pretty drastically in light of a sub-par offense, which is near the bottom in every offensive team category. Small roster changes could see players such as Emilio Bonifacio earn some well-deserved bench-warming duties. The acquisition of a new player, and a new face in the locker room, could move the team in a better direction.

So, it’s clear that, in light of this injury, a shakeup is in order in both the lineup and the infield. Brett Lawrie is currently rehabbing in Class-A Dunedin, and the possibility of him manning second base for the Jays  is a real option depending on how he performs. Throw in Bautista’s continual starts at third base (which he has done on and off in the past), and the Blue Jays are looking to get that shakeup.

The fact remains this is a struggling team that, up to this point, has been hampered by injuries, but nothing a major-league team shouldn’t be prepared for. This is the first major wrench thrown into their plans, and they’re not exactly meeting expectations in the first place.

So, once again, another alarm is ringing out for the Blue Jays. Their offense is startlingly average. Their ace, R.A. Dickey, is anything but lights-out. And now their arguably most effective player on the diamond has been shelved for half the season.

What was supposed to be the Jays’ dream season has started off more like a nightmare. The big question: Will the team wake up? Or was Reyes’ injury just one step further down the rabbit hole?

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