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Travis heads back to Toronto after humbling rehab process

Devon Travis responded to the question with a wide smile.

Well, actually he never stopped smiling while chatting with reporters Thursday afternoon at Coca-Cola Field.

But when asked if he knew if he was returning to Toronto as the Blue Jays open a series with the Texas Rangers, he just stood and smiled.

“I think I can say yes,” Travis said.

He could barely contain his enthusiasm.

“I feel like tomorrow’s Opening Day again,” Travis said. “I’m excited. I probably won’t sleep much tonight.”

The 24-year-old second baseman had a strong start with the Blue Jays, making his first Opening Day Major League roster in April. In 36 games, he batted .271 with seven home runs while driving in 26 runs.

Then came a game against Cleveland in early May when he took a hit from Brandon Moss off his collarbone.

The play injured his shoulder. He tried to play through it, unsuccessfully, and was placed on the disabled list.

His rehabilitation process wasn’t smooth. After playing one game with the Bisons on May 29 he felt stiffness the next day and went back on the disabled list. He inched back by playing three games with New Hampshire in Double-A before rejoining the Bisons on June 18.

“It’s a game of failure. It’s something you have to accept,” Travis said. “However when you come back and things aren’t feeling right you start questioning, hey what’s going here? What’s going on there? I think the biggest thing that I’m learning every day in this game is that you’ve just got to take it for what it’s worth. You’ve got to come in, put in the work and once the game starts and the first pitch is thrown you’ve got to trust all your work and let it all happen.”

Thursday afternoon he finally felt all the pieces come together.

Travis played his last rehab game as the designated hitter as the Herd defeated Lehigh Valley, 7-2. He went 3 for 4 and scored two runs. He was credited with one stolen base but his aggressive base running allowed for him to advance twice – once on a fly to center and once on a throwing error.

“It took six, seven games to finally find his timing at the plate,” manager Gary Allenson said. “He told me when he first got here he wasn’t really a base stealer but he stole second. … He probably had a little extra weapon in his pocket. The first hit he got he hustled into a double. That’s probably a big part of his game. Another guy, maybe the tools aren’t great but he’s a baseball player and knows how to play.”

Travis might know the game, but he’s learning how to surf its highs and lows.

“This game is crazy. It’s definitely very humbling,” Travis said. “To have everything be going well and then something pops up and you miss a month and getting back man, it’s tough. It’s tough. You gotta do it.”