TORONTO – Paul DeJong is excited to step in as the Toronto Blue Jays new shortstop, even if he doesn’t know how long he’ll be playing that position.
DeJong was named the Blue Jays shortstop against the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday, a day after he was traded to Toronto from the St. Louis Cardinals. He’s assuming the role as all-star shortstop Bo Bichette was put on the Blue Jays’ 10-day injured list earlier in the day.
“I value my defence and I really take pride in what I’m doing out there, so I’m thankful that they’re given me a chance to play shortstop,” said DeJong, sitting in the home dugout after batting practice at Rogers Centre. “I know there’s a lot of things that can move around in the coming weeks but I’m just excited to make an impact and try to go out there and do my thing and just be me.
Bichette was officially diagnosed with right patella tendinitis after apparently jamming his knee while running the basepaths Monday. Manager John Schneider said that the Blue Jays are “literally taking it day by day” on Bichette’s recovery.
“We’ll know more tomorrow, the next day, the next day after that,” said Schneider. “We’ll see. It just depends on how he responds to everything that we’re putting in front of him.”
A two-time all-star, Bichette leads Toronto with a .321 average this season and 17 home runs. He has the highest batting average in the American League and fourth best in Major League Baseball.
DeJong has 13 home runs, 32 runs-batted-in and a .233 batting average in 81 games with St. Louis this season. He’s been effective against left-handed pitching this year, however, hitting .266 with a .368 on-base percentage versus southpaws.
Schneider gave DeJong a crash course in the Blue Jays signs, strategies, and schedule after he arrived at Rogers Centre earlier Wednesday. DeJong said he’s happy to play whatever position Toronto needs when Bichette returns from injury.
“That’s still up in the air depending on him. I’m not sure how severe (Bichette’s injury) is,” said DeJong. “I think John’s been pretty clear that there’s options for me to play second base or shortstop.
“There’s a lot of things up in the air and I’m open to it all. I’m just happy to be here with a fresh start.”
Also Wednesday, right-handed reliever Thomas Hatch was recalled from the Blue Jays triple-A affiliate in Buffalo, N.Y. Righty Nate Pearson was optioned to triple-A a day after giving up four runs in a lopsided 13-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2023.
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