Lourdes Gurriel Jr., on a record-setting hitting streak, appears to have avoided serious injury after limping off the field in Chicago on Sunday.
It’s a sight no Blue Jays fan wanted to see. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., the 24-year-old rookie infielder in the midst of a once-in-a-generation hitting streak, lying on the ground clutching his knee.
The injury happened in the ninth inning of Toronto’s 7-4 win over the Chicago White Sox on Sunday. Gurriel hit the ball to center, allowing Luke Maile to score from second base. Gurriel attempted to reach second on the throw home, but the ball was cutoff by the pitcher. As he reached for the bag his leg extended at an awkward angle. He had to be helped off the field by team trainers.
Toronto seems to have dodged the worst, however. The club announced that Gurriel suffered a knee contusion and ankle sprain on his left leg. X-rays came back negative. He will undergo an MRI later on Monday as the Blue Jays begin a series in Oakland to determine the true extent of the injury.
“It looked like it was something very serious but he’s moving around okay,” Blue Jays manager John Gibbons told reporters after the game. “I’m sure it’ll tighten up on him and swell up on him. I think it’s already swelling, his ankle.”
The injury comes at the worst possible time for Gurriel. The Cuban infielder is on an AL record-setting streak, getting multiple base hits in 11 consecutive games. He is the first to that since Tony Perez in 1973, and only the seventh since 1900. Of the previous six, five of them are in the Hall of Fame. The other is Shoeless Joe Jackson, who would be in Cooperstown if not for the Black Sox scandal. The Major League record is 13, set by Rogers Hornsby in 1923.
Gurriel is hitting .500 during the streak. If not for a pinch-hit appearance on July 10 in Atlanta, he would currently be on a 17-game hitting streak. He hasn’t played a full game without a hit since May 11, although he spent some of that time in Triple-A. For the season he is hitting .322 with seven home runs and 22 RBI.
Gurriel is only the latest Blue Jay hit by the injury bug. Former AL MVP third baseman Josh Donaldson hasn’t played since May 28 with a calf injury. Shortshop Troy Tulowitzki has been out all season with bone spurs. Starting pitchers Aaron Sanchez and Marco Estrada are both currently on the disabled list; Sanchez has missed the last month with a right finger injury, while Estrada has made just one start in July.
Eight games under .500 and 24.5 games out of the AL East lead, the Blue Jays are in selling mode approaching Tuesday’s trade deadline. Starter J.A. Happ was traded to the New York Yankees on Thursday, and several other players could soon be on the move. Curtis Granderson is on the market, and the team is also considering trading closer Roberto Osuna, whose suspension for a domestic violence offence ends on Aug. 4.
Gurriel is among the young players the Blue Jays are counting on to build the team around. A lengthy stint on the DL by their rising star is just what they don’t need right now.