Rosie DiManno: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. keeps growing in importance for the Blue Jays

BOSTON The afternoon, for Lourdes Gurriel Jr., started off lifting weights. Gotta keep that Popeye right arm in throwing-to-the-plate flex. His dozen outfield assists last year led all left-fielders.

Then an extended session in the indoor batting cage at Fenway Park, joined by many of his Blue Jays teammates. They needed the remedial swinging reps more than Gurriel, despite his 0-fer at the plate in the opener of a three-game set with the Red Sox the previous evening.

Collectively, the Jays, acclaimed up one side and down the other of their batting order before 2022 even launched, were hitting .254 entering Wednesday’s action. Which isn’t shabby, eighth overall, yet nowhere near lights out as advertised, and .151 with runners in scoring position, so not timely either. Over their seven previous games, Toronto scored one run or less in three of them, and they were shutout twice across a fortnight span.

Footnote i: George Springer was two for his last 19 at-bats before lashing a single in his third plate appearance Wednesday.

Gurriel, however, has gone 13-for-45 in 12 games, with three doubles, for a .289 average that is behind only Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (.302) for the plumpest offensive numbers among anyone not named Zack Collins or on the IL. He is behind Guerrero also, not insignificantly, in the batting order, hitting cleanup. And until those vaunted Jay bats awakened Wednesday — rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, those roused…

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