DETROIT -- Colby Rasmus entered play on Thursday afternoon mired in one of the first slumps of his career.
Rasmus had the pleasure of facing Detroit right-hander Justin Verlander while struggling through an 0-for-26 skid, but did manage to end it there with a fourth-inning single to right field in the Blue Jays' 3-2 loss in 11 innings. The recent woes coincide with a nagging groin injury that forced Rasmus to miss three games earlier this month.
"I don't see the way he's swinging, or the way he's running right now, is a cause and effect to what he is going through right now," manager John Farrell said. "He still shows good bat speed, there has been some swing and miss on secondary pitches, particularly right-handed changeups.
"We're struggling to put a quality offense together night in and night out, but he is a guy that has been productive for us and we're going to continue to maintain him in the lineup."
Rasmus' absence appears to have affected his timing at the plate, but he's also dealing with a different approach from opposing pitchers. Earlier this year, Rasmus made an adjustment by moving up in the batter's box and closer to the plate.
It was a move designed to allow Rasmus to pull the ball with more authority and improve his ability to attack pitches on the outer part of the plate. Teams have since made a counter adjustment by pitching up and in more frequently which has created a different look at the plate.
"What I see is when he gets some fastballs around the plate, he's fouling them off and missing them rather than squaring them up," Farrell said. "Where he's at in the box in relation to the plate, we did see probably about a month ago, we came out of New York and they really elevated some fastballs in on him.
"That seemed to be a little bit of a word that spread throughout the league. I think of late he has laid off that pitch, but when he has gotten fastballs on the middle or outer part of the plate he's fouled them straight back and hasn't squared them up.
Cooper's injury could lead to Lind's return
DETROIT -- David Cooper was held out of the Blue Jays' lineup on Thursday afternoon against the Tigers because of upper back spasms.
Cooper has been dealing with soreness in his back for the past week but re-aggravated the injury while diving back into first base on Wednesday night.
The 25-year-old is currently listed as day to day, but it's likely he'll need at least a couple of games off before making a return.
"It's in that upper back and neck," manager John Farrell said. "When he jarred himself, I don't want to say whiplash, but there was a jarring effect that he felt in the neck in addition to the area of spasms before.
"Consistent with the last time he experienced the back spasms, it took him a couple of days, and we anticipate it to be that way again."
Cooper's latest injury could mean that first baseman Adam Lind returns earlier than originally anticipated. Lind, who also has been dealing with a sore back, wasn't expected to return until the beginning of September.
Farrell stated on Wednesday the club wanted Lind to appear in at least nine rehab games before re-joining the Blue Jays, but that timeline has since been drastically cut and it's possible he could now return on Monday.
"There's one scenario, that provided he gets through the next four days where we want him to DH and play first four consecutive games, we could be looking at him in New York as well," Farrell said of Lind, who is currently playing for Double-A New Hampshire.
Lind's original timeline likely had as much to do with waiting until rosters can be expanded to 40 players on Sept. 1 as anything else. By delaying the return, Toronto could have avoided demoting Cooper to the Minor Leagues, but that is less of a concern since the recurrence of the back injury.
Blue Jays getting to evaluate young talent
DETROIT -- There aren't a lot of positives to be found in a Blue Jays' season that has been decimated by injuries, but one of the few bonuses is that the club is getting an extended look at some of its up-and-coming prospects.
The month of September is usually reserved for the promotion of young talent, but it's also a time of the year when it's hard to get a true read on overall abilities.
The infusion of Minor Leaguers across the league can lead to the dilution of talent, but during August players are still competing against the very best. That's allowed the Blue Jays to get fair evaluations on the likes of Anthony Gose, Moises Sierra and Adeiny Hechavarria.
"Because of all the injuries we've had, all the guys you project to come up in September have been up since July," manager John Farrell said. "We're finding a lot out right now and I think more accurate reads on players than September."
Sierra has been the most impressive rookie to date as he entered play on Thursday hitting .347 with two homers and five RBIs in 17 games. On the other side is the 22-year-old Gose, who is hitting just .192 with a pair of RBIs, but had an impressive 10 stolen bases in 27 games.
Toronto appeared to rush some of its Minor Leaguers to the next level but the hope is that the entire experience will provide learning opportunities that will extend into the offseason as well.
"I know for a fact he'll come out of it knowing more about himself as a player today," Farrell said. "I firmly believe learning about themselves continues in the offseason. Anything prior to September, when you're an active player, you can't hide in terms of being protected or situations being hand picked because you have a great number of players on the roster.
"This is a more accurate read of where a player is in his own development and his own ability to play day in and day out in the Major Leagues."