MIAMI (AP) — Outfielder George Springer was in the Toronto Blue Jays’ lineup Tuesday night for only his fifth game this year, and this time he hopes to stay a while.
The three-time All-Star began the season on the injured list because of a strained right quadriceps muscle. He played in four games after he returned in late April before going back on the IL.
“Last time I felt good. This time I feel great,” he said after completing a rehab assignment and joining the Blue Jays for the start of their two-game series in Miami. “I’m excited to be in the position I’m in now. I feel like myself.”
Manager Charlie Montoyo put Springer fifth in the batting order and called him “one of the best players in baseball.” He joins a team that was tied for the MLB lead in homers and ranked second in slugging and OPS through Monday.
“That’s a good problem to have — to hit George fifth because the first four guys are doing so good,” Montoyo said.
The 2017 World Series MVP for Houston, Springer signed a Blue Jays-record $150 million, six-year contract with them last offseason.
He said batting fifth is fine with him, but missing 66 of Toronto’s first 70 games was “brutal.”
“I want to play,” Springer said. “I don’t like being hurt. For it to happen the way it did, especially as fast as it did, was not fun. This has been extremely hard on me.”
When Springer stepped to the plate in the second inning, he drew boos from the small crowd for his role in the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. He then grounded out.
Springer hit 174 homers in seven seasons with Houston, including 39 in 2019.
“I’ve missed pretty significant time,” he said. “I don’t want to put any expectation on myself, except I owe it to this team, this organization, this fanbase to play as hard as I can every day. And that’s what I’m going to do.”