Devon Travis is thrilled to be back in Buffalo, just one step away from regaining his spot as the starting second baseman for the Toronto Blue Jays.
“I’m so excited to be back,” Travis said. “The anthem’s going and my heart’s telling me it’s the World Series.”
Travis looked great Thursday in his first game on injury rehabilitation assignment for the Bisons. He went 3 for 4 with a double in helping the Bisons to a 7-5 win. Travis had major offseason shoulder surgery and did not return to the field until last week when he made his debut at the Class A level in Florida.
The Blue Jays no doubt are just as excited to see the 25-year-old Travis one step away from the major leagues. They need him.
Toronto’s second basemen have struggled mightily in his absence the past seven weeks, compiling a batting average of .227, 29th out of 30 at the position in the majors.
Travis hit .304 in 62 games for Toronto last season before going on the disabled list on July 31. He had eight doubles, eight home runs and 35 RBIs. He was American League Rookie of the Month in April. He hit .368 in July.
The performance was a pleasant surprise but not a shock.
The Florida native and former Florida State star hit .318 in 2ø minor-league seasons before 2015. He entered last season as the sixth-rated second base prospect in the majors and the No. 9 prospect in the Toronto organization.
His shoulder injury turned out to be more significant than anyone realized when he went on the DL last summer. He had exploratory surgery in September then major surgery in late October after doctors determined he had a rare shoulder blade condition in which two bones never fused together as they should have. He had two screws inserted in the shoulder and was slated for a 20-week recovery.
“My favorite day of the rehab was the day I picked up my arm and I got it above my head for the first time,” Travis said. “Something so small was like the biggest victory for me. I literally could not lift my arm over my shoulder from about September, from my first surgery, to early March.”
Travis hit .357 in four Class A games.
“I feel really good,” he said. “I’ve never been so happy to get out of warmer weather and come to cooler weather and have to bundle up a little bit. I’m excited to be playing with a purpose to win ballgames. It’s been a long road.”
Ryan Goins, who took over for Travis last summer, hit .285 over the final 57 games last season. But this season Goins is hitting .155, and he has drawn only six walks. He was in a 3-for-38 slump (.078) entering Thursday’s action.
How long will Travis need in Buffalo to be ready for the Jays? He’ll be with the Herd at least through the weekend homestand.
“Man, I don’t know,” he said. “I maybe kinda do. I can’t wait. It’s been a long road. It’s been tough watching the guys in the postseason and watching now. I want nothing more than to be out there. Whenever they call me and tell me it’s my time to come back I’ll be ready to go.”