The Toronto Blue Jays have placed veteran designated hitter Brandon Belt on the injured list because of lumbar spine muscle spasms. In a corresponding move, the Blue Jays promoted outfielder Nathan Lukes from Triple-A Buffalo.
Belt, 35, was forced by the back spasms to depart Monday’s loss against the Texas Rangers after his second at-bat. He was also a late scratch from the starting lineup earlier this month with the same issue. The Blue Jays can only hope that some time on the shelf will heal him.
Belt enters Tuesday hitting .251/.369/.470 (131 OPS+) with 16 home runs and 38 RBI. His contributions have been worth an estimated 1.7 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference’s estimates. Injuries are nothing new for Belt, who reportedly considered retiring over the offseason if his knees didn’t improve. He also missed time earlier this summer with hamstring inflammation.
Lukes, 29, has seen action in 28 games this season with the Blue Jays. He’s batted .200/.300/.320 (72 OPS+) with two extra-base hits and two RBI in 30 plate appearances.
Belt’s injury comes at an inopportune time for the Blue Jays, who continue to fight for a postseason berth. Toronto enters Tuesday with an 80-64 record on the year, putting them 0.5 games up on the Rangers for the second wild-card spot. They’re also one game up on the Seattle Mariners, who, at present, represent the first team out of the American League playoff picture.