Donaldson to DH has a chain reaction

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Josh Donaldson’s DH time will have trickle down affect on roster

By Cole Shelton
Canadian Baseball Network

On Opening Day of the 2018 season, fans were ecstatic to have baseball back, and rightfully so. However, early on in the game between the Toronto Blue Jays and the New York Yankees, Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson looked weak on multiple throws to first, leaving many Toronto fans to fear the worst and that Donaldson would have to miss considerable time. 

But that is not the case. 

Manager John Gibbons told reporters after the game that Donaldson’s arm was “just a little dead,” so nothing too serious. While it wasn’t too serious the ‘dead arm’ is something the former MVP has been feeling for awhile.

“I’ve been feeling it a little bit all spring and it’s just kind of been kind of on-going and back and forth,” Donaldson told reporters after the game. “I don’t have any pain or anything like that, so that’s always good. It’s just about getting the strength back.”

Gibbons said to reporters that Donaldson would need a little time at DH until he gets back to full health. But if Donaldson is the designated hitter, there is a bit of problem of where Kendrys Morales plays, as he is the full-time DH on this roster. 

Donaldson at DH already impacted the roster during Saturday’s game as Morales hits C.C. Sabathia rather well, with a .360 batting average, .385 on-base percentage, a .600 slugging percentage and a .985 OPS against the Yankees left-hander. 

There is no question Morales hits Sabathia very well but with Donaldson having to DH, Morales was forced to sit as Gibbons decided to stick with Smoak at first base. 

Nonetheless, Smoak produced on his bobblehead day against Sabathia and going 3-for-4 on the day with two RBIs, but Smoak almost didn’t play.

“I didn’t know it was bobblehead day,” Gibbons said after the game to reporters. “We were debating whether to play Morales — Morales had hit (Sabathia) pretty good — so good thing we didn’t.”

Even if Morales doesn’t play that is a bad use of resources for the Blue Jays who are still paying Morales $11 Million US this season and $12 Million next year to DH and produce. With Donaldson taking up the DH at-bats and Smoak at first, it leaves Morales in limbo on the bench waiting for a pinch-hit appearance.

Not only does it impact Morales, it also impacts the infield depth which the Blue Jays tried so hard this offseason to improve. With Donaldson unable to roam third base, Yangervis Solarte has to be the starting third baseman, leaving only Gift Ngoepe and Aledmys Diaz as the backup infielders.

Travis was supposed to get time off every now and then to preserve his knees as he hasn’t played a full season in the majors yet. When Toronto acquired Solarte the whole point in having him was to have him play once or twice a week at second to relieve Travis and get him off the turf while also being Donaldson’s backup. Now, the Blue Jays can not do that with Donaldson at DH, leaving Ngoepe to play second and having to play Diaz every day until Donaldson gets back to playing third as there is no other option for Toronto.

The Blue Jays went to get more infield depth which they have, but it is already being tested as Donaldson cannot play the infield yet. Fortunately for the Jays, Donaldson does not have to go on the 10-day disabled list yet.

For now, however, Toronto appears to want Donaldson’s bat in the lineup — which makes all kind of sense — and leaving Morales's bat on the bench. But Donaldson taking up considerable time at DH has a huge impact on the Blue Jays' roster and how Gibbons makes his lineup every day.