Rasmus lands on DL with strained left oblique
Fan favorite Kawasaki, outfield prospect Pillar recalled from Triple-A
TORONTO -- Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday afternoon after his strained left oblique muscle failed to display noticeable signs of improvement over the past 24 hours.
The move is retroactive to Monday and Rasmus will be out until at least Aug. 27. He suffered the injury while attempting to check his swing during a game against the A's on Sunday afternoon at Rogers Centre.
The Blue Jays attempted to remain patient with Rasmus in an effort to avoid a prolonged absence, but the strain was still causing too much discomfort for Rasmus to go through his normal baseball activities.
"We talked to him this morning, still didn't feel right and it was just a matter of when can he be ready," general manager Alex Anthopoulos told a group of reporters Wednesday afternoon.
"The fact that Colby has already missed some time, that the injury hasn't completely gone away, we're better off to put him on the DL, give him the two weeks, let it completely go away, hopefully start a rehab assignment next week and he'll be back playing and not take a risk he'll be out a month."
The loss of Rasmus is another blow to a struggling Toronto offense as Rasmus was hitting .331 with four homers, 14 doubles and 22 RBIs while posting an .899 OPS since the beginning of July.
The injury, combined with Wednesday's trade of Emilio Bonifacio to the Royals, set off a flurry of roster moves by the Blue Jays. Prospect Kevin Pillar had his contract purchased, while fan favorite Munenori Kawasaki was recalled from Triple-A Buffalo.
Pillar got the start in left field on Wednesday night while Rajai Davis moved into center to replace Rasmus in the lineup. The moves left the Blue Jays without a prototypical backup outfielder, but that is expected to change in the near future with another roster move on its way.
Prospect Anthony Gose is expected to be promoted from Triple-A within the next few days, but until then, Kawasaki and veteran Mark DeRosa will serve as emergency backups. The decision to delay a move for an additional outfielder was made because the Blue Jays wanted to wait at least another day before deciding what changes should be made to their eight-man bullpen.
"We wanted to make sure we got through tonight and there are no issues at all," Anthopoulos said. "We could have done it today -- we actually thought about doing it today -- but just to protect ourselves a little bit tonight and then we can reevaluate after the game. We'll see, we could do something tomorrow, it could be two days from now. I think it will be some time in the next few days."
Kawasaki, who got the start at second base Wednesday, became a household name in Toronto earlier this season when he was filling in for the injured Jose Reyes at shortstop. The energetic infielder hit just .213, but he posted a .319 on-base percentage in 70 games and was one of the most popular players on the team because of his colorful postgame interviews and interactions with the fans.
Pillar, 32nd-round pick in '11, called up to Majors
TORONTO -- To say that Kevin Pillar's rise to the Majors is a surprise would probably be an understatement, considering where he's come from just two years ago.
Despite a successful career at California State University, Dominguez Hills that made him an All-American and included a Division II record 54-game hitting streak, Pillar was a 32nd-round pick (979th overall) in the 2011 First-Year Player Draft.
On Wednesday, the West Hills, Calif., native was called up to replace Colby Rasmus, who was placed on the 15-day DL with an injured left oblique, becoming the first player selected by the Blue Jays in 2011 to make the big leagues.
But it was the lack of attention he received at the Draft that Pillar -- ranked No. 16 among Blue Jays prospects by MLB.com -- used as motivation to help make this step.
"There's definitely a chip on my shoulder to prove that they may have got it wrong at the Draft," Pillar said. "That the system may not be perfect. That there's an imperfection to the Draft system the way that scouts evaluate players, the way they may discredit things that guys do in smaller schools.
"Going in [to the Minors], naturally, I was already a little upset. I carried that chip on my shoulder. Early on I wasn't really given anything. I had to earn playing time. I had to earn the respect of my teammates, my coaching staff. I just kind of played the style I was taught at Dominguez Hills. Play hard, do the little things right, be a good team player. That allowed me to get a little more opportunity."
When he was given that opportunity, the 24-year-old outfielder had no trouble making an impact.
From Rookie League to Triple-A, Pillar made people notice him with his bat. In five Minor League levels, he hit .299 or better, batting a combined .321 with a .366 on-base percentage, 22 home runs, 185 RBIs, 183 runs scored, .832 OPS, and 82 stolen bases over 311 games.
"I just learned, even in college, to take every at-bat very personal," Pillar said. "[It's] a battle between you and the pitcher, and I hate losing."
Although he started in left field Wednesday against the Red Sox, Pillar has the ability to play all three outfield spots and is considered a "legit center option" by Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
Whether he gets much time up the middle is to be determined, but Anthopoulos now knows that they made a mistake in letting Pillar slide so far down in the Draft.
"Some guys get better as well, but it could be that he's not 6-foot-5 and things like that, I think sometimes that's how sometimes guys slip through the cracks," Anthopoulos said. "He was a college player and maybe scouts don't dream on those guys as much. But perhaps we lost sight of the fact that these guys are very sound good players. The fact that he has performed at the level he has at the Minor League level, he certainly has earned being up here.
"Clearly I could say, and I say that respectfully, we got him wrong. Just because if he has a chance to get to the big leagues you don't wait for the [32nd] round to select him."
Up earlier this year, Gose close to coming back
TORONTO -- Center fielder Anthony Gose appears set to rejoin the Blue Jays before the end of the week.
The 23-year-old prospect appeared in 13 games earlier this season, and following an injury to Colby Rasmus and Wednesday's trade of Emilio Bonifacio, there's an opportunity for playing time at the big league level.
Gose entered the year with plenty of hype, but has endured a frustrating 2013 campaign with Triple-A Buffalo. That caused him to drop down on the club's depth chart, but despite the struggles, Toronto still feels he has a bright future.
"You know what, young players, they go up and down," general manager Alex Anthopoulos said. "I've seen it many times. Players have good years, years not as productive. He's playing better of late. The numbers are still not where he obviously wants them to be or where they can be, [but] his average is starting to come up a little bit. Hard contact, quality of at-bats are getting a lot better."
Gose was passed over Wednesday afternoon in favor of fellow prospect Kevin Pillar, who was promoted after Rasmus hit the disabled list with a strained left oblique muscle. The 24-year-old Pillar will see regular playing time in left field while Rajai Davis slides over to center, but that alignment is only expected to last for a couple of days.
Toronto will soon return to a seven-man bullpen and when that happens, Gose is expected to receive a promotion. He'll likely see the bulk of the playing time in center during Rasmus' absence, while Davis returns to his role as a backup outfielder.
Gose is hitting just .239 with a .312 on-base percentage while striking out an alarming 119 times in 389 at-bats with the Bisons. He has been in and out of Buffalo manager Marty Brown's doghouse for not running out groundballs and some defensive lapses in the outfield, but Anthopoulos hopes that's a thing of the past.
The theory was that Gose didn't respond well to being demoted to the Minors in early June, and while that type of attitude could be considered problematic, it hasn't impacted the type of upside Toronto feels Gose can bring to the table.
"It doesn't change our long-term view of Anthony," Anthopoulos said. "When Anthony came up it was understood it was short term. He wasn't performing that well. He was struggling at that time -- we actually told him that.
"He knew when he got called up at the time that it wasn't a promotion that he was playing exceptionally well and he forced his way up here. It was a need that we had for a two- or three-week period."
Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. Evan Peaslee is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @EvanPeaslee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.