No decision on Jays fan favourite Munenori Kawasaki

It remains unclear when, or if, Munenori Kawasaki will be sent down to the Blue Jays' affiliate in...

It remains unclear when, or if, Munenori Kawasaki will be sent down to the Blue Jays' affiliate in Buffalo. (REUTERS)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:10 PM ET

TORONTO - The Munenori Kawasaki watch — is he headed to Tampa or taking a bus to Buffalo — has reached idiotic proportions.

Following Sunday's game, Kawasaki was on the team charter to Tampa while rehabbing shortstop Jose Reyes played Sunday afternoon with the Buffalo Bisons.

Manager John Gibbons said the status quo remains, Kawasaki up, Reyes down. The latest rumour mill has Kawasaki remaining with the club until the Jays open up a four-game series in Boston on Thursday.

“We haven’t decided anything yet,” Gibbons said following Sunday’s win. “It’s kind of a day-to-day thing ... bring him back and screw this thing (streak) up, what the heck.”

Kawasaki is a player who is liked by his teammates but he is a player with limited skills which is why he is not an everyday player in the big leagues. Kawasaki has limited range at his position — shortstop — has a weak arm and does not hit for either average or power. He plays hard to his limited skill set and has the ability to work the pitcher deep into the counts, draw walks and is a good bunter. He also has average speed on the bases.

But he is Japanese, exotic and quirky, plays hard and obviously has a tremendous sense of humour, which makes him a favourite both with his teammates and with the fans.

Veteran Mark DeRosa is one of Kawasaki’s biggest fans and says he has never had a teammate like him.

“I’ve never met anyone like him,” DeRosa said. “I don’t even know how old he is (32) but I look at him like a little brother. I’m so proud of him every time he does something for the first time (such as his home run that tied Friday’s game). I told him ‘No one can ever take that home run away from you’. I don’t know if he understood what I said to him. You’re proud for your teammates when they come up but this guy wasn’t even in minor league camp until a little bit into spring training. When he came up we didn’t know what we were getting and to do what he’s been able to do, to win the fans over, to not have a translator with him, to not have a bunch of people around him to help him, for him to be one of us and to kind of go through it with us, it’s been awesome.”

One of Kawasaki’s enduring qualities is his sense of pure joy that he exhibits when playing the game, a reminder to everybody that it is still a game and not life and death.

“He’s been for me the story of our season,” DeRosa added. “Obviously Jose (Reyes) will come back, he’s one of the best players in the game, and he’ll get right into that role again for this team for years to come. But what Muni’s been able to do, not just for us, but for the city, the fans, you can’t help but be proud of a guy like that you know. He should be proud of what he has accomplished.”


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