Gregor Chisholm: George Springer gets a mulligan after a tough season, but it’s time to start living up to the biggest contract in Blue Jays history

George Springer got off easy in 2021. Next year, he won’t be afforded the same luxury.

It’s not very often that a player who just signed a $150-million (U.S.) contract gets to fly under the radar, yet for the bulk of this past season that’s what exactly what Springer managed to do.

An oblique injury in spring training derailed his ability to crack the opening day roster. A strained quad, which soon followed, cost him the better part of 2 1/2 months. A knee issue in late August made things even more problematic. When it was all said and done, he’d appeared in fewer than half of the Blue Jays’ 162 games.

Despite the lack of production, Springer sidestepped most of the criticism that is typically directed at the top-paid players who aren’t living up to their contracts. Outside of the jokes that followed daily updates from the team about Springer running the bases and continuing to improve, he escaped the spotlight for the bulk of the year.

Springer has Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien to thank for that because when the star centre-fielder was out of action, the performances the Jays were receiving from their two healthy sluggers, combined with some glaring issues on the pitching staff, provided enough of a distraction to keep everyone’s eyes diverted elsewhere.

April and the months that followed were defined by Guerrero’s breakout season. Not far behind, starting in May, was talk…

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