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Big Leaguers Have Spent Plenty of Time at Sahlen Field

August 4, 2020 - International League (IL) - Buffalo Bisons News Release

In one week, the Toronto Blue Jays will take the field at Sahlen Field to continue their 2020 season against foes from the American League and National League east.

Now, we know the majority of the Blue Jays players have already played in downtown Buffalo, having come up through the system. But when Bo Bichette, Vladdy Jr. and Cavan Biggio were Bisons, there were minor leaguers still. What about the guys that played here _as Major Leaguers... as Blue Jays_?

For the last seven seasons, the Blue Jays have embraced sending their injured stars to Buffalo for a final tune up in their return-to-play program. The list some big names, including Michael Saunders, Devon Travis, Aaron Sanchez, Marcus Stroman, Marco Estrada, Mat Latos, Francisco Liriano, Brett Cecil, Colby Rasmus, Jose Reyes and Brett Laurie. Here's our list of our five favorite MLB rehab appearances in Buffalo since 2013...

5. Randal Grichuk -2018

In 2018, a right knee sprain brought the slugging outfielder down the QEW and into Buffalo for a pair of games against the Columbus Clippers. While he only played two games for the Herd, he made an instant impact in his first appearance at Sahlen Field on May 30. With Buffalo ahead 5-3 in the fifth, Grichuk put the game away with a towering home run to left field off Clippers starter Matt Whitehouse. Grichuk would also collect a hit in the next day's game against Columbus before returning to the Toronto Blue Jays.

4. J.A. Happ -2014

It's not easy for a pitcher to rack up wins while they are down on rehab assignment because most of the time they have to adhere to strict pitch counts. So, we'll give a nod here to Happ who didn't earn a victory but struck out six PawSox batters in only 4.2 innings of work on April 10, 2014. In the outing, Happ also got a doubleplay from veteran slugger Ryan Lavarnway and allowed just one run on five hits.

3. Steve Pearce -2018

It's not every year the World Series MVP plays for you at the Triple-A level. But that's what happened in June of 2018, even if we didn't know it yet. Outfielder Steve Pearce joined the club for four games and hit .364 with a home run, three RBI and a .533 on-base percentage. But less than 10 days after his stint with the Bisons, Pearce was traded to Boston for Santiago Espinal -a trade that turned out pretty good for both clubs. Pearce went on to hit three homers and drive in eight in the Red Sox championship over the Dodgers, earning him World Series MVP honors.

2. Jose Bautista -2016

The season after the bat flip heard around baseball, the six-time All-Star joined the Bisons for a July weekend series with the Gwinnett Braves. While the slugger was still getting his timing down and produced just one hit in the three starts he made, fans flocked to the ballpark to see Bautista. Combined with tremendous Buffalo summer weather and the team's popular Star Wars Night promotion, a total of 40,366 came out to see Jose suit up for the Bisons. His Star Wars Night jersey remains one of the team's highest selling auction jerseys since the team began wearing the unique tops.

1. Edwin Encarnacion -2014

The EdWING made its appearance at Sahlen Field in 2014! Fans may have been shocked to see the Blue Jays slugger in the leadoff spot of the order on August 12 but it paid off when Encarnacion got a second look at Norfolk Tides starter, Steve Johnson. With the bases loaded, Edwin crushed the Bisons' first grand slam in nearly two years, sending a drive deep out to left field to propel the Bisons to a 7-5 win. Encarnacion also had a single in a start at first base the next day.

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