There are no regrets for Ryan Goins.
Sure, his one-inning stint as a pitcher on July 1 for the Toronto Blue Jays landed him on the disabled list with right forearm tightness and back in Buffalo to work his way back to full health and game speed.
But for Goins, it’s all about what he can do to help the team.
Even if that means stepping to the pitcher’s mound in the 18th inning of a 1-1 ballgame with the Cleveland Indians. He allowed three base runners but no runs and the Jays went on to lose that game, 2-1 in the 19th inning.
The next day, he went on the 15-day disabled list and Tuesday was in the Buffalo Bisons’ lineup at shortstop and batting second as he continued his Major League rehabilitation stint.
“Not at all. Not at all,” Goins said when asked if he regretted pitching that inning. “It’s something that the team asked me to do and honestly I was going out there to keep the team in the game and keep the game tied. It just so happens the elbow was kind of sacrificed in the process but it’s getting better and hopefully will be good for the rest of the season.”
The elbow and forearm feel good, he said. And while he’s back in Buffalo, he might as well contribute.
In Monday night’s loss to Norfolk, he drove in three runs on two hits, including a double to hit .231 in his first three rehab games with the Bisons.
“I always tease guys about that – not having much luck with the rehab guys,” Bisons’ manager Gary Allenson said. “Sometimes it’s tough to motivate the big leaguer when he’s down where he almost treats it like a spring training game but these guys don’t.”
“You take it like it’s a big league game honestly,” Goins said of his rehab stint. “That’s what you’re getting ready for. That’s the ultimate goal you’re working for. You’ve got to get the most out of it. You’re here for a reason and why not get the best work in that you can get and get yourself ready to go in games up there as well.”
Goins is familiar with the Bisons and Coca-Cola Field. Drafted by the Blue Jays in 2009, the middle infielder came up through the organization and played in each of the last three seasons with the Herd. In 214 games over that time, he has driven in 79 runs while batting .272 with 33 doubles, six home runs and seven stolen bases.
He lasted all of a week with the Bisons last year before getting promoted for his first full big league season. And what a season it was. His defense grounded the Blue Jays middle infield and helped the team to the American League Championship Series.
“In the offseason, you look back at the things that were accomplished and being two games away from the World Series was something special and something that you dream about as a kid,” Goins said.
“I don’t think anything changes. You come back with the same mentality. You want to win. You want to win every game. You want to win your division and get back to the playoffs because you felt that excitement, that energy and how it is to be in the playoffs. You want that every year. You just can’t get complacent. You can’t take it easy.”
And for Goins, you can’t necessarily be picky about your assignments.
His role has been fluid this year as the Blue Jays have depth up the middle, most notably with Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis. So Goins has shifted into what Toronto manager John Gibbons called a “super-utility role” meaning he can play five to six positions.
It’s not his defense that’s in question but his offense. In 2015 he averaged .250 but this season has struggled, batting just .176 in 159 at-bats.
“I wasn’t happy with my hitting numbers,” Goins said. “I’ve had some bad luck. I also had some bad at-bats in there as well. I felt like I was starting to swing the bat well and just coming down here and trying to continue that and hopefully by the end of the year my numbers will be where I want them to be if I get enough at-bats. But I’m there to do whatever role they want me to do if that’s playing every day or being the utility man, that’s what I’m going to do.”
His rehabilitation stint in Buffalo can rekindle some of the lessons he learned during his time in Triple-A.
“It’s about not being selfish, playing for the team,” Goins said. “If you do that, your numbers will be where you want them to be. Just having fun every day no matter where you’re at. You come here in rehab games just try to have fun, enjoy your teammates, play hard and hopefully come out with a win at the end of the day.”