Blue Jays’ Saunders Tears Meniscus in Freak Accident, out until All-Star Break

For a team full of turnover from last season and battles for position, there’s one less competitor for left field in spring training with Michael Saunders out after tearing his meniscus stepping on a sprinkler head in the outfield.

Saunders was in the running to start in the left field for Toronto after coming over from Seattle in a trade for pitcher J.A. Happ in the offseason.

After an injury-riddled season with the Mariners, Saunders was due to be Toronto’s replacement for Melky Cabrera, who left via free agency.

At the time of the trade, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos said the Canadian Saunders “is going to be our everyday left-fielder” and defensively he would have been an upgrade over Cabrera, whose strength is at the plate.

Saunders hit .273/.341/.450 for a .791 OPS in 78 games played last year but has had some pop in his bat in the past coming into the hitter friendly Rogers Centre. Anthopoulos hopes to replace him with others at spring training before having to look elsewhere.

Anthopoulos also said they will check the condition of the field at the Bobby Mattick Centre as there have been some complaints over the years of “soft spots.”

Saunders had come in early to get acclimated with his new team and get an early start. He had been in Florida two weeks before pitchers and catchers had reported.

Last year Saunders missed time for a hyper-extended knee, shoulder strain and a grade two oblique sprain. Later in the year, while in the hospital for the birth of his child, he came down with a sickness originally thought to be Fifth Disease but ultimately was something doctors “hadn’t seen before” and kept Saunders out of the lineup for weeks after losing 12 pounds from the illness.

The Blue Jays only have three roster outfield players in camp now: Jose Bautista, Dalton Pompey and Kevin Pillar. They also have non-roster invitees Ezequiel Carerra, Chris Dickerson and Caleb Gindl.

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