In case you’ve been wondering the status of either Brett Lawrie’s rehab or Melky Cabrera’s wonky knee, I’d thought I’d give you a brief update.
Brett Lawrie – After playing 6 games low-A, Lawrie has now joined the organization’s double-A team. The Jays are intent of giving Lawrie as much time as he needs to get his timing down at the plate after rushing him off the DL in April. In low-A, Lawrie went 0 – 6 with 2 walks. The 23-year-old 3B was batting .209 with a .268 obp in 37 games before spraining his ankle. It’s reported the Jays are not asking Lawrie to make any mechanical adjustments to his “moving-parts” swing. Why they aren’t taking the opportunity to do this now is beyond me.
Melky Cabrera – It’s no surprise that even though Cabrera will be eligible to come off the DL two games prior to the allstar break that the team will likely use the break as a few extra days off before having Cabrera return to the club. The LF did some running this week and has been constantly taking batting practice. All signs point to Cabrera joining the team immediately following the allstar break.
For a team that needs to play over .600 to have a shot at the playoffs, going 3-4 on its most recent road trip just isn’t going to cut it. It’s tough, though, when the rotation is in tatters. But injuries or not, the Blue Jays need to win games.
Tomorrow the Jays return home for 3 vs. the Rangers. We have to go 2-1 which means we either need to beat Yu Darvish on Saturday (Mark Buehrle might just do it) or we need Esmil Rogers to step up big time in tomorrow’s series opener. While R.A. Dickey has been far from a lock so far this season, coming off a classic performance yesterday, I feel that the Jays should have a definite advantage when Dickey toes the rubber to close out the series on Sunday.
To win 90 games which would give the Jays roughly an 80% shot at the postseason, they have to go 65-38 the rest of the way (.631 baseball). Yikes.
Although a friend of mine reminded me that the A’s were under .500 at the allstar break last season and went on to win the AL West. Not an easy task. So it’s possible for the Jays to make a run.
I also saw an interesting stat in Sportsnet magazine. Every team has injuries, so it’s hard for fans, coaches, and players to use injuries as an excuse for the Blue Jays situation. But here is the stat: at May 10th (when the article was published), the Blue Jays had 10 players on the DL. To put that into some perspective, the Red Sox had 4, the Orioles 6, the Rays 3, and the Yankees a whopping 11. So the Jays can’t complain, right? The Yankees have just as many injuries, are still performing, and well into a divisional race.
WRONG! Of the Yankees on the DL, only 36% are pitchers. In fact, no team in the MLB has a higher percentage of pitchers on the DL if you take the DL’ed pitchers divided by the total players DL’ed on a team. The Jays are at 90%! Also, no team has more than 7 pitches on the DL other than the Jays (9 pitchers on the DL). Of the 11 Yankees on the DL, only 4 are pitchers (which is 2nd most in the AL East after Toronto).
We all know pitching is the key to success. And right now, the Jays pitching staff is hurting. Getting Josh Johnson back healthy is huge. Having Dickey pitch healthy is huge. Now we just need Brandon Morrow and J.A Happ to come back and we’ll be set to make a run. With the rotation healing, I’m not counting out a Blue Jays run just yet.
I thought I’d take a couple minutes and provide an injury status update.
Sergio Santos: this is becoming more and more like last season when the Blue Jays said there was no serious issues with Santos and then the next thing we knew he was getting his shoulder sliced up and he was out for the year. Santos went on the DL this year on April 14th with right triceps inflammation and was scheduled to come back immediately following his two weeks off. No surprise that hasn’t happened. He is now having “clean up” surgery on his right elbow to remove bone spurs and such and has been transferred to the 60-day DL. Not sure he’ll have any contribution again this year although the Jays are saying he could be ready to pitch within 6 weeks of the surgery since it’s considered very minor.
Josh Johnson: He worked his scheduled 3 innings yesterday in a single-A rehab game and allowed 1 run on 3 hits while striking out 5. He says he threw all of his pitches in the outing. The Jays would like him to have 2 more rehab starts without any set backs in order to build up enough arm strength to pitch at the major league level. If everything goes as planned, he’ll be back with the big club early in June. He, like Santos, was originally diagnosed with right triceps inflammation.
J.A. Happ: Happ is recovering well from the extremely scary ball to the head a couple weeks ago on May 7th. The problem that is keeping him off the mound isn’t his head at all. When Happ went down, he strained his knee. The knee is still bothering him and has kept him from throwing off a mound. The Blue Jays think that Happ could be back by the end of June, assuming he is able to start throwing within the next week or so.
Jose Reyes: Reyes has been out since April 12 after severely spraining his ankle during an awkward slide into second base on a successful steal attempt. He recently shed the walking cast and is now hitting off a tee, taking batting practice, and fielding ground balls. About the only thing Reyes isn’t doing yet is running. The Jays thought he would be out until mid-July (around the allstar break) but this is the only player who seems to be ahead of schedule. It’s possible Reyes could be back by the end of June if he keeps progressing as positively as he has been.
Dustin McGowan: I only throw McGowan into this discussion because he seems to be advancing from his never-ending injuries and the Blue Jays will have a decision to make. McGowan is out of options and will have to clear waivers unless he is given a roster spot on the big club once he finishes he rehabbing and it appears he is getting close. McGowan is currently pitching in triple-A. Anything we get out of him has to be considered a bonus at this point.
I don’t have any news on Rajai Davis and his oblique strain – this type of injury is difficult to predict a time table for return. Then again, the Jays don’t have the best track record at predictions anyway.
I thought I’d take a moment and let you know what I’ve heard on the injury front with respects to several Blue Jays:
Brandon Morrow – although not on the DL, had some back and neck spasms following his side session. Jays have bumped his start back to give him an extra two days rest and hope he’ll be ready to go Sunday vs. the Red Sox.
R.A. Dickey – although not on the DL, has had continuous neck/back issues this season. Before every start, Dickey says it feels as good as it has in a long time. Then he pitches and it flairs up again. My guess is that if everyone else was healthy and Romero was throwing well, the Jays would give Dickey a couple weeks off to heal. However, with lack of starting depth due to injuries and the fact that an MRI showed no structural damage, the Jays will let Dickey pitch threw the pain as long as he is mildly effective (which he has been).
Josh Johnson – strained right triceps. Threw on flat ground this week on Wednesday. The goal is to have him build up arm strength so he can make a minor league rehab start on May 21st. Assuming there are no set backs, the Jays expect to have him back with the big club early June.
J.A. Happ – head and knee. After escaping a vicious line drive off his head/ear this week, the injury that will keep Happ out of the line up for a while is actually his knee. When the ball struck him in the head, he tweaked his knee as he was falling. The Jays project he will miss 4 – 6 weeks and expect him back mid-late June.
Sergio Santos – right triceps strain. Is throwing in Florida at extended spring training and will be making appearances this week in minor league games. The Jays want him to show he can go back-to-back days before bringing him back, so he figures to be out at least another week. I imagine he’ll be back late May barring any set backs. He says he is still sore but it’s not nearly as bad as it was. This could be a recurring injury in my opinion.
Dustin McGowan – the always injured McGowan is recovery from his latest shoulder surgery last year. He is throwing and throwing well. The Jays will have a decision to make when they take him off the DL since he is out of options. However, I doubt with his injury history another club will take on his $1.5 million contract and would likely let him clear waivers. McGowan would likely accept a minor league assignment and be loyal to the organization that gave him a contract despite his injury record. The Jays see him as a reliever, but with all the injuries to the rotation, do they start stretching him out?
Drew Hutchison – tommy john surgery last August. He is on track to be pitching in minor league games this summer. Is doing a throwing program to build up arm strength.
Kyle Drabek – same story as Hutchison but a month ahead. He is on track for minor league games in July.
Luis Perex – same story as Hutchison but two months earlier. He is on track for minor league games in June.
Jose Reyes – severe ankle sprain. Still due back sometime in July.
As you can see, nearly all the injuries are to pitchers. And while Morrow and Dickey have avoided the DL, if they aren’t 100% they won’t pitch 100%. But we have still lost 40% of our starting rotation and another 40% is pitching but banged up. The only one not hurt is beachball Buehrle who is looking to lower his 7.02 ERA.
After a series split, let’s take 2 of 3 in Boston and head home 4-3 on the trip. Tonight will be a tough one to win – Ramon Ortiz vs. John Lester. Yikes.
Only a couple hours after posting that both R.A. Dickey and Josh Johnson were on track to make their next scheduled starts on Friday and Saturday, the Blue Jays have place Johnson on the 15-day DL due to persistent triceps inflammation. Johnson has undergone an MRI which shows no structural damage, but after throwing a bullpen session on Wednesday, the Jays appear to be taking the cautious route with the soon-to-be free agent and shutting him down temporary.
Johnson’s DL stint is retroactive to his last big league appearance so there is a change he only misses one more start. However, after skipping two starts, you have to wonder if the Jays will want him to do a minor league rehab assignment. Sergio Santos hit the DL earlier this season with a similar injury to his triceps and it was originally thought he would be ready to come back as soon as his stint was over. Well, it was over last week and he still isn’t back.
Ricky Romero has been called up for the Jays to pitch tomorrow in Johnson’s place. This is an interesting move since Romero only has one start in single-A this year after numerous bullpen sessions to work on his new throwing mechanics. I think the Jays are rushing Ricky back, but I guess they feel he is the best available option. With a 10-18 start and needing to play close to .600 baseball for the remainder of the season to have a shot at the playoffs, I suppose they don’t have much of a choice.
Unfortunately for Romero, in his return to Toronto he draws Felix Hernandez of the Mariners to pitch opposite him. King Felix is 3-2 with a 1.90 ERA so far this season. Let’s hope he has confidence in his new mechanics.
The silver lining in today’s news seems to be that Dickey also underwent an MRI this week and looks good to go for his start on Saturday. He is still suffering for a sore back and neck but said it didn’t feel as bad as it has after his latest side session. The MRI reveal slight inflammation but no serious injury. Dickey plans to continue to pitch through the pain.
I really thought Johnson would be one of the best, if not the best pitcher on the Jays staff this season. He still has a chance to be since the season is only about 15% complete, but he’ll have to come back quickly and then avoid the DL. In a contract year, he’ll be itching to prove his health and value, so look for good things when he comes back. If injuries persist, the Jays might be able to sign him to an extension for a year at a discount so he can prove his health and value next season before hitting the free agent market.
I keep telling a co-worker that starting with the win on Tuesday, the Jays will play .600 ball for the remainder of the season. It would be a good start by taking the series tonight (Happ vs. Dempster) and grabbing 2 of three this weekend vs. the Mariners.
I thought I’d provide an update on some of our hurting hurlers.
Josh Johnson – had an MRI to look at the sore triceps that forced him to miss a start during the Yankee series. No structure damage. Just some minor inflammation. Hopefully he won’t need any time on the DL and will make his next scheduled start. With the off day today, the Blue Jays can bump a couple guys up on regular rest and give Johnson a couple extra days if needed.
Sergio Santos – He is playing catch at 90 feet and will start throwing bullpen sessions very soon. You’ll remember he is on the DL for a triceps strain and is eligible to come off this week (but he won’t). Look for him to throw a couple bullpen sessions, get into a couple minor league games, and probably throw back-to-back games before the Jays bring him back. The Jays are saying at least a week, so let’s think he’ll be back in two weeks.
R.A. Dickey – He has experience neck and back pain for three straight outings and was scheduled to have an MRI today. Dickey doesn’t expect to miss any time on the DL but hopes the MRI will pinpoint a problem area so he can receive more effective treatment between starts to help deal with the pain. For his part, Dickey has been fairly effective in his last three outings and has managing to pitch through the tightness. Let’s hope he doesn’t require a stint on the DL.
If Johnson or Dickey should miss time……
Do the Jays pick up the pace in Ricky Romero’s comeback? They shouldn’t, but they probably will. Romero pitched a single-A game, his first minor league outing of the year after several bullpen sessions where he worked on new mechanics, and did very well. While we have to understand it was a game vs. single-A kids, Romero only allowed 1 run on 6 hits over 7 innings. He struck out 4 batters but more importantly walked ZERO. Equally as important, 15 of his outs were via the ground ball, so he must have been locating the ball extremely well. 7 innings = 21 outs. 15 via ground ball, 4 K’s….that means only 2 ball got into the air.
I think the Jays want to keep Romero in the minors for a bit and it wouldn’t surprise me if he works his way through the system (double-A, triple-A, etc). Yet, if Johnson or Dickey require a DL stint, the Jays will be tempted to rush Ricky back. I think they need to let the plan run its course (and hopefully everyone stays healthy and we don’t even have to think about it).
If everyone is healthy, when does Romero come back? Well, I doubt the Jays get through the entire year with the same 5 starters. It just doesn’t happen in the majors. But as long as all are healthy, look for the Jays to take things slow with Romero and build his confidence. I know it’s only 1 outing, but zero walks and 15 grounders is very encouraging.
R.A. Dickey has gotten better and better his last couple times out. And now his experiencing back pain.
The Blue Jays say that they don’t expect Dickey to miss his next start and I sincerely hope he doesn’t. But I’m beginning to not trust the Jays when it comes to the length of time they expect a player to be out.
First when Brett Lawrie went down during an exhibition game leading up to the world baseball classic, the Jays were optimistic that he would be ready in time to break camp with the team. Lawrie has only played in 4 games and was rushed through a shortened rehab assignment due to the injury to Jose Reyes and needing another infielder.
Then Jose Bautista went down with a mild ankle injury. He was expected to be fine enough to play the next day…then the next…then the next. He missed three games with the ankle came back for a handful and then missed 4 games due to back spasms – when he wasn’t expected to miss more than a single game.
The problem is when Bautista is playing, he hasn’t been 100% so he has DHed. But by DHing him, it forces Adam Lind out of the line up – right when it looked like Lind was seeing the ball really well.
Don’t get me wrong – I bench Lind over an 75% Bautista any day of the week, but it takes another bat – and a power lefty bat – out of the line up.
Now Dickey is hurt. He felt the back and neck tightening two starts ago against the Royals and then had it reoccur this week vs. the White Sox. But don’t worry; he won’t miss anytime (wink, wink).