Blue Jays second baseman didn't make season debut until May following shoulder surgery
By Brian Hedger
Special to MLB.com |
CHICAGO -- Devon Travis is starting to rake again, like he did during his injury-shortened rookie season, and it couldn't come at a better time for the Blue Jays.
Without Jose Bautista, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list last week with turf toe, Toronto's powerful lineup had started to lack some punch at the top. Travis, 25, might be the solution, as evidenced by his performance in the Blue Jays' 10-8 win against the White Sox on Saturday at U.S. Cellular Field.
Hitting second for just the second time this season and eighth time in his brief Major League career, Travis went 2-for-4, scored two runs and slugged a two-run home run in the second inning that put Toronto up, 5-0.
"You don't think of him as a power hitter, but if you make a mistake, he's got enough to hit you out," manager John Gibbons said. "But we don't need him to do that. We've got enough guys doing that. We need some more of the other guys [who hit for contact]."
Travis can do that, as well. His overall numbers are down from last season, but they're climbing rapidly thanks to the past couple weeks. After missing all of April while recovering from shoulder surgery that limited his rookie season to just 62 games, Travis has started to look like himself at the plate again.
He's hitting .447 (17-for-38) with three home runs, four doubles, nine RBIs and six runs scored in his past 10 games and has a hit in 10 of his last 11. His defense is also better than scouting reports initially assessed it at the time Toronto acquired him in a trade with the Tigers (Nov. 12, 2014).
Travis hasn't made an error this season, after making just six in 289 chances last year. He made a nice leaping grab on a soft liner to end the eighth inning, too.
"He's better than what I expected," Gibbons said. "The guys in Detroit said he could always hit, but they said there's some areas you need to work on ... you've got to work on his defense. But his defense has been really good, too. Even last year, when he ended up hurting his shoulder, he was leading the team in home runs and RBIs. We didn't expect that. For kind of a power-packed lineup, he was leading it all. So, that part surprised me."
Travis hit .304 with eight home runs, 35 RBIs and 18 doubles in just 217 at-bats as a rookie. His on-base percentage was .361, and combined with a slugging percentage of .498, his OPS was .859, an impressive number for a middle infielder.
This season, though his numbers have dipped, he's shown with his recent hot streak that he can still be a force offensively, whether it's leading off, hitting second or hitting lower in the order.
"I was just trying to take it day by day and trust in the process [when I first came back]," Travis said. "There were some nights where I didn't sleep too much, but I believed in the guys in this clubhouse and our coaches, and thankfully it's rolling a little bit now."
Brian Hedger is a contributor to MLB.com based in Chicago. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.