Griffin: Blue Jays notes at Baltimore - Game 17
BALTIMORE-The truth of the matter, if you accept that injuries are an inevitable part of baseball, is that the timing of the right shoulder inflammation suffered by Blue Jays' closer Sergio Santos in Kansas City could not be more fortuitous for both club and player. Of course, no injury would be better but this is a search for small blessings.
There's never a good time for an injury, especially to a pitching shoulder, but if one was able to choose, this would be the time and the place for a 28-year-old first-year Jay to sit down. He is tied contractually to the club for the next six seasons, so there is that investment to consider, while the ability to fill in at the present is at its highest.
Santos, a southern California native, just became a father to a baby boy during the last homestand, flying home to Los Angeles for the birth on April 11 and returning to action with the Jays on April 15. The orthopedist who examined his shoulder and rendered the diagnosis is Dr. Lewis Yocum, is one of the top elbow and shoulder surgeons in sports. In fact, Baseball Prospectus ranks Yocum second only to Dr. James Andrews http://bit.ly/dbxW80 in a rating of Top 10 sports injury doctors in baseball.
The good doctor is based at a practice in Los Angeles and that is where Santos flew to be evaluated. He can now stay at home with his wife and family. Meanwhile, the diagnosis of 10-14 days off -- about four weeks total before a possible return to the mound -- is as good as the injury news could get. And the Jays have not seemed to struggle without him.
As for why the timing is in any way acceptable for the Jays, part of it is because the man they are calling upon to replace Santos in the interim, righthander Francisco Cordero, has an active string of five straight seasons with 34 or more saves and has already showed that despite his velocity loss he is up to the task with saves in his last two appearances.
The eighth inning, Cordero's former role, can now be divided up competently and confidently among the red-hot Luis Perez, lefty Darren Oliver, veteran Jason Frasor and the under-used righthander Casey Janssen who has not pitched in nine days.
However, a burning question still lingers among conspiracists as to when it was the Jays first knew about any potential physical problem with Santos. Recall that he sat out a two-week stretch of spring training during Grapefruit League play. The Jays insisted that he was in such great shape coming to camp that they wanted to slow him down. He was restricted to throwing bullpen sessions and working on improving his changeup.
That is very unusual, but it did not raise suspicions at the time because there was never a time this spring in the clubhouse when he seemed to be getting extra treatment, extra ice, so maybe it is just a coinicidence, as they say, that after six games, with two saves and two blown saves, the hard-throwing righthander is down and out for a month.
“No," manager John Farrell said, quickly when asked if this was a previously known condition. "The last outing in Kansas City, this was clearly isolated, where even during that outing, unfortunately he felt not quite right, but yet he's 95-97 miles-an-hour.
"As the course of that evening progressed through the night and into the morning when he woke up there was increased stiffness, increased soreness and when he came in for some treatment and then did some early light catch, he felt okay. But then during his throwing program when he stated to lengthen it out it was starting to grab him a little bit more and it was at that point we decided it was time to get him evaluated."
All things being equal, looking at the Jays' schedule, it would be reasonable to expect a projected comeback for Santos on May 28 when the club returns from a six-game road trip to Tampa and Texas to play the Orioles at the Rogers Centre.
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Jays' manager John Farrell has been riding the hot hand of lefthander Luis Perez threough the first 16 games of the schedule. The 27-year-old southpaw, in his first full big-league season, had a great spring training and has supplanted Darren Oliver as the No. 1 lefthander and now taken over from Casey Janssen in the eighth inning role, what might have been expected with Francisco Cordero's promotion to closer. Perez has a 0.00 ERA in 11-1/3 innings, with a 2-0 record in seven games.
Is trouble brewing? Farrell insisted in the off-season that his biggest issue last year was in managing his bullpen and assigning the proper roles, but he may be heading in that direction again. It's a small sample size, but Perez is on pace for 114-2/3 innings of relief and the fact that Janssen entering the O's series had not pitched in nine days baffled the 30-year-old Californian who had a breakout season in middle relief a year ago.
“Because there's been a number of days he hasn't gotten into games, one, he's got to get back in a game, first and foremost," Farrell said of Janssen's role in the absence of Sergio Santos. "The fact is we've gone to some matchups. How Luis Perez has evolved -- I'm not going to say has supplanted him or replaced other guys, but he's done one hell of a job for us. Casey's fully ready to go and he will be in the mix."
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Designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion was listed as the Jays' cleanup hitter against O's starter Tommy Hunter, the first time he has batted fourth against a righthander this season. Adam Lind slid down into the fifth spot, with Brett Lawrie sixth.
“It gives us a couple of other options," manager John Farrell said. "The way Eddie's swung the bat, he's emerged as our four-hole hitter for right now. The fact that he and Adam are one slot apart in the lineup, it's not that big of a deal, but whether it's been against righthanders or lefthasnders, Eddie has swung the bat very well and has provided maybe the more consistent protection behind Jose.
"I thought throughout the course of the entire series in Kansas City, he had good at-bats. That's the way we're going to go right now. Ideally that would be the best thing that everybody does and it gives us the ability to push Adam down a slot, then we can stack the lefthanders in the seven and eight hole with Rasmus and Thames. Somebody's got to hit four. Somebody's got to hit eight, so that's where we are."