Ryan Goins received one of the biggest wake-up calls a major league baseball player can get.
On Aug. 2 the infielder was optioned by the Toronto Blue Jays to the Buffalo Bisons following the completion of his rehab assignment with the Triple-A club.
After 288 games in the bigs, he found himself in a place he never expected to return to.
“I think you can take it one of two ways,” Goins said. “You can pout and be down and just go out here to go through the motions, or you can work to get better and be a better player.”
Goins has opted for the second choice, putting in solid numbers with the Bisons through 18 games. He’s batting .297 on the season, hitting two doubles and knocking in eight runs. He’s reached base in all but two games.
“I’ve had him parts of a couple years here, and he’s swung the bat right here now as good as he has for me,” Bisons manager Gary Allenson said. “He’s hitting the ball right on the button.”
He got all of a juicy fastball in the first inning of Wednesday night’s contest against the Indianapolis Indians, hitting his second home run of the season into the third deck of the Bully Hill Tent in right field. The solo shot reportedly landed right on a hot dog platter.
That turned out to be all the run support the Bisons’ would need in the 1-0 victory, as starting pitcher Scott Diamond shut out the Indians for eight eight innings before Dustin Antolin closed it out with a 1-2-3 ninth.
“Second batter of the game, it definitely takes that weight off your shoulders,” Diamond said. “You can be a little more risky in certain situations and attack right out of the gate.”
To put it simply, Goins is playing like he has something to prove. With the way the injury bug has hit the Blue Jays lately, you don’t want to be passed up by someone else. But it isn’t just Toronto that’s watching.
“When you’re in the minor leagues you’re playing for 29 other teams as well,” Goins said. “There’s scouts from every team here. You want to go out and show good things. You don’t show good things, you go to the house.”
His bat lately has been a nice bonus to the skill he’s usually known for – his fielding. He makes tough plays look easy, like when he snagged a sharp line drive past the pitcher Wednesday.
“He’s one of the best middle infielders I’ve ever had, and I’ve been a manager for 22 years,” Allenson said.
If Goins doesn’t get called up within the month, he’ll rejoin the Blue Jays when the roster expands to 40 after Sept. 1. Toronto is in the thick of the division battle at the top of the AL East, making the Blue Jays an even more enticing team to return to.
“It’s going to be fun,” Goins said. “You don’t know when it’s going to be. You just come down here and play the game. You play the game hard and it will all work out in the end.”