ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Jonathan Diaz had to wait a little bit longer than first anticipated, but he has now officially come full circle with the Blue Jays.
Diaz was drafted by Toronto in 2006 and spent seven years in the organization, but never made it to the Major Leagues with the club. He finally got his shot last season in Boston, but when the offseason came along, he decided to return to the Blue Jays on a Minor League deal.
Now, just two days into the season, Diaz finds himself on the Major League roster after his contract was purchased from Triple-A Buffalo following a hamstring injury to Jose Reyes.
"I know how important Reyes is to the club and he's irreplaceable," said Diaz, who started at shortstop Tuesday night. "You can't replace a guy like that and I'm just here to do what I can, help the team win and I just want to contribute.
"Unfortunately it was Reyes going down and he's such a major part of this team. I just want to be able to go out there, play defense, whatever I can, get on base for the guys to drive me in."
Throughout Diaz's career, he has been frequently compared to former Blue Jays infielder John McDonald. Diaz has limited upside with his bat -- as evidenced by his career .230 average with a .655 OPS in eight Minor League seasons -- but he's also an elite defender.
The Blue Jays decided to put an emphasis on that part of the game as they decided to go with Diaz over Munenori Kawasaki. Kawasaki, a fan favorite, can provide a little more offense, but he also doesn't have nearly the kind of range that Diaz has up the middle.
"We wanted to throw our best defense out there," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "He's the best shortstop we got out there, he's really good out there."
Reyes is expected to miss at least the next two weeks with mild inflammation in his hamstring.
Diaz entered Tuesday night's game against the Rays hitless in four career at-bats, but it didn't take long for his presence to be felt in Toronto's lineup. He drew a walk in his first at-bat, then had an RBI single off right-hander Alex Cobb in the fourth inning. That helped propel the Blue Jays to a 4-2 victory, their first of the season.
"It felt pretty amazing, especially with the team that drafted me, the team that I spent so many years with," Diaz said. "It was definitely a good feeling and that we got the 'W' was even better."