May 2012

One to forget

The Blue Jays will fly back home on Sunday night and I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying the last thing they want to be thinking about over the next 24 hours is just how poorly things went on this six-game road trip. Toronto entered games against Tampa Bay and Texas having won four of its past five, including a mini two-game sweep of the Yankees.

They now leave Arlington having lost five straight and the main reason can be found with the recent struggles in the starting rotation. The pitching staff had been the club’s biggest surprise for most of the season but at least for one week it has become their biggest weakness. That has all kinds of people on Twitter and other forms of social media claiming that the roof is now caving in on this team but there’s one important thing to remember: The club is never as good as it looks during a prolonged winning streak and it’s never as bad as it looks during a prolonged slump. The truth likely can be found somewhere in the middle.

Toronto possessed the second Wild Card as recently as last week but now sit one game out of last place in the competitive American League East. Things do need to turn around rather quickly and the walks currently being issued by the pithcers certainly need to reduced but it is far too early to write this team off.  Afterall, they’re just a small four-game winning streak away from everyone jumping back on the bandwagon and pronouncing this as a postseason contender.

There will be lots of highs and lows along the way and truth is we’re not going to see exactly what direction this club is headed in for quite awhile longer. Here are today’s leftovers from John Farrell, Jose Bautista and a very frustrated Kyle Drabek:

Jose Bautista:

On being swept…

“I wouldn’t dwell on it too much. It was just a bad road trip. It’s happened before and it will happen again. We just have to go home and focus on who we have coming in and try to beat them.”

On critics saying this road trip is an indication that the club is not a contender…

“Everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, I don’t agree with that. To me, this road trip or any other road trip is no measuring stick for how the rest of the season is going to go. Again, those games are over, we can’t go back in time and change them. We just have to win tomorrow night.”

Indication of how good the Rangers are or how poorly Blue Jays are playing…

“We haven’t played bad baseball. We ran into a team that’s hitting the ball pretty good, not much we can do about that. All we have to do is keep doing what we’re doing, keep battling, we haven’t given up, we were putting some runs on the board except for the first day here and that’s all we can do. We’re playing good baseball, we just have to continue to do it, we can’t really think abotu these losses and let that affect the way we play the rest of the way.

“I don’t think it has anything to do with how good or bad we’re playing. We ran into a team that’s hitting the ball very, very well. The result of these three games is more a result of how they’re hitting the ball and not how we’re playing.”

On Darvish now versus his outing in Toronto…

“I didn’t think his velocity was the same. I didn’t think his pitches were moving as good but somehow he still managed to make a good pitch when he needed to and he got out of some jams. We managed to put up three runs but it could have been a lot worse for him and I think he got away with one today.”

John Farrell:

“We ran into a hot-hitting club. Seemingly, no matter who was on the mound if we made a pitch on the plate, made a mistake in the strike zone, they covered it, squared up a lot of balls. Then you find yourself down a number of runs, it takes away from our ability to be that much more aggressive on the basepaths to create some things and you have to swing your way back into it.

“This was a tough road trip. We go back kind of limping with Yunel banged up with his groin, Kelly with his hamstring situation. I think Jesse came in and did everything we asked to give us a number of innings. I thought he handled himself well, a good loose delivery, a lot of strikes, stayed out of the middle of the plate for the most part.”

On Yunel…

“He’s day-to-day at this point. He was examined, he’s got a groin issue going on. He felt that when he was going first to third early in the ballgame. We just have to be precautionary with what he’s got taken place right now.”

On Drabek…

“He found himself in a lot of hitters’ counts and then when he made a pitch on the plate, they’re swinging the bats so well right now there was really no room for error. A number of fastball counts to the pull side and the way the ball is flying here, the way they can hit, just a tough combination today.”

Rotation coming back down to earth after a strong start?

“We’ve gone through a turn through the rotation where it certainly has been less than we’ve pitched the previous 35 ballgames this season. It’s obviously taxed our bullpen a lot. We’ve got to get back to what has made this group of five successful and that’s pitching ahead in the count, not issuing the number of base-on-balls that we’ve gone through in this stretch and we’ve got to get back to playing the type of baseball that we’ve had. That’s the starters controlling it from the outset and giving our offense a chance to get on track.”

Entering this road trip on a good roll…

“We had some momentum going into this road trip, there’s no doubt about it. We played very well on the previous homestand, we ran up against two very good teams. We had a couple of tough losses late but we’ve got to re-group. We’ve got Baltimore coming in here tomorrow and it’s going to go back to anytime we’re in these type of stretches where wins have been tough to come by it’s going to point even further to the rotation to set the tone.

“It’s a turn through the rotation that has been bumpy. We’ve got to get back to the basics of controlling the count, attacking the strike zone with strikes and trying to eliminate the number of situations where we’re fighting back into the count.”

Kyle Drabek:

“Had to show up for the team and I didn’t do that.

“When I was throwing balls they weren’t swinging and when I was throwing strikes they were hitting them. It was as simple as that.”

A start you just want to forget about?

“I’ll forget about it but I need to learn from it. I need to go back from square one in spring training, maybe get the ropes back out there, figure something out because doing that is not going to help the team, any.”

Mechanical?

“I don’t think it was mechanical but it’s going back to where I’m cutting the ball and have to find that command I had in Spring Training.

“You can’t throw balls and then force yourself to throw a strike down the middle. When you do that any good hitter is going to hit it.”

Most frustrating part?

“We needed a big win, to go home with a win, we ended up getting some runs but I just wasn’t there for the team.”

Finally some good news for Litsch

Tuesday ended  up being a good day for right-hander Jesse Litsch. The oft-injured Blue Jays pitcher has been dealing with an injured shoulder that just won’t seem to heal but at least he now knows with complete certainty that the previously found infection is completely gone. You can find the full details in today’s notebook on the main site plus items on Edwin Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus.

I have posted the full transcript of today’s scrum with Litsch at the Bobby Mattick Training Center. I’ve also included a portion of the Q+A with newly signed Vladimir Guerrero while an accompanying article for that can also be found on the main site:

Jesse Litsch:

“I don’t have an infection. There’s no infection in my arm, it has been gone for about five weeks now, four weeks, the pain is still there. I still have a lot of pain but we’re still working with team doctors and trying to get it all figured out. It’s something that is very rare, hasn’t been caused much, hasn’t been done much, we’re trying to figure things out, work through it and it’s an every day grind but as far as the infection I’m not wearing a tube anymore. I just got word 20 minutes from Dr. Mirabello, we just had a blood test on Friday and that’s all gone.”

On the platelet-rich plasma injection, which caused the infection…

“It’s something that is routine, it has been done a lot. It’s newer within the past 10 years but it’s had a lot of success and they did it via ultrasound, which is something that was new and something along the way got messed up and it caused an infection in my arm. It has been a grind ever since.”

On his familiarity with the PRP…

“I had a couple of before that. I had one on my elbow when I had Tommy John, it’s routine, it’s something where we sit now, who knows what it came from. It could have come from anything but now it’s a process of getting over it and trying to come back.”

Must have been a relief getting the blood test results back today…

“Anytime you hear that you’re free, I’ve known that for about five weeks now, but I went and saw Dr. Yocum last week and he wanted me to have another one to make sure it’s still gone just in case if there’s another surgery, which might happen, we’re going to give it another month of rehab but if surgery is going to happen again you don’t want to go in there when there’s a bug in your arm and cause a bone infection.”

But you’re still feeling a lot of pain…

“I’ve had numerous MRIs and no structural damage, it’s the same as it was prior to the injection. The infection, it made it hurt more in my arm, which is something that I’m not dealing with very well and it’s more pain than I’ve felt in my life but something they keep telling me you have to get through it. Me, I want to get back out there so I’m going to do what they say.”

Must be getting frustrating having to deal with this for such a long period of time…

“It’s the love of the game. You want to go back out there and play. It’s competitive, you want to stay out there and competitive. You want to get people out, that’s what I like doing, that’s something I’ve always liked doing since I was a kid. Not to be able to play sucks but it’s the grind to get back, it’s the fight to get back, you have to take that as a competition too and try and beat the odds on that.”

McGowan must also provide a strong example of perseverance…

“Definitely. Me and Dustin have been here for four years now together. We’ve become pretty good friends and I think he’s on his fifth year and I’m on my fourth year. We talk about it all the time, we help each other out and he’s a guy that has come through it and is still going through it. Back down, up, down, we’ve kind of had the same roller coaster ride and it’s a matter of staying at it and loving the game, which we both do.”

Post surgery…

“I got diagnosed with what they call frozen shoulder and that was basically because I didn’t move my shoulder because I had to have the emergency surgery. But really you weren’t allowed to move your shoulder after the surgery because they don’t want you to move all the stuff around and possibly rile up the infection … It took an extra week for me to come out and that may or may not have hurt me, who’s to say it wasn’t going to be froze regardless. This is something that is very rare and not many people have had it done and it’s tough for a pitcher, who relies on his arm for his livelihood, it really hasn’t been done.”

When was last time you were 100% healthy…

“Last year. I was good last year and May, I was good when I was out of the bullpen. I had good numbers out of the bullpen, it’s a weird game, it’s a frustrating game, it’s not a natural motion to throw overhand and things happen. I finished the year fine last year and then Spring Training it’s a whole new year.”

Vladimir Guerrero:

When do you think you might be ready…

“I’ve only played three games. Friday was the first. I want to do this as soon as I’m able to but right now I can’t predict.”

On the Blue Jays…

“There is lots of talent on the team. I believe it’s a very good team and they’re doing well right now. If I can contribute with giving any advice to the young guys, I will. The rest should take care of itself.”

But you can’t put a time frame on getting to the big leagues…

“I haven’t seen that many live pitches and I’d like to make sure that when I get there I am 100%. I don’t want to say a day, I don’t want to say I’ll be ready tomorrow. But I want to make sure that when I do show up I’m 100%.”

Off-season training program…

“I was running a lot and something I was doing plenty of was playing the outfield because that’s something I want to do and since I feel good, my body feels good, I’d like to play some left field if possible.”

Looked like you were moving a lot more freely out there than you were last season…

“That is the case. I feel a lot better. Last year I had some pain in my left knee. I’ve never had surgery on that one but I’ve had surgery on the right one and that would cause me to put a lot of stress on the left. But I feel very, very strong and right now, no pain. I feel really good about it.”

What did you like most about playing for the Expos…

“The people in Montreal, the fans, were very different. I felt like I could walk down the street like I was in the Dominican. Nobody would attack me or anything like that. They’d say hi and he felt very, very comfortable on the streets. Then again, when I got to the ballpark, then they became fans that’s what I really liked about it.”

What made you decide to pick the Blue Jays…

“Definitely going back to where it all started. I feel like this is where I started, it’s not the same city, but it’s Canada. I think going back there kind of like renewed. I feel like I’m going to be very, very comfortable.”

Difficulty a lot of DH’s had with signing deals this offseason, did that factor into you wanting to prove yourself in the OF?

“I think that showing that I can still play does help. I would love to play, even if it’s a couple of games a week. But if DH is my job, I’ll do it. I definitely want to play in the outfield.”

Was there a point you began to doubt whether you would receive an offer to play this year?

“I was obviously patiently waiting to see where I was going to go. I did have another agent in the past and then hired us a couple of weeks ago. We made this happen. But I was just going to keep working until something showed up but then when I heard Blue Jays, I’m excited to go to Toronto.”

How long do you expect to play for?

“My goal is those 51 home runs that I need to get to 500. I already have a great career but that’s what I want to do right now, that’s my immediate goal.”

Blue Jays sign Guerrero

Nine-time All-Star and 2004 American League MVP Award winner Vladimir Guerrero has signed a Minor League deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

The deal is worth $1.3 million and will be prorated for Guerrero’s time in the Majors, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal first reported Thursday, adding that Guerrero will enter Toronto’s extended spring camp in Dunedin, Fla.

Guerrero, 37, will be returning to Canada, where he began his career while playing eight seasons for the Montreal Expos. He then headed to Anaheim, where he won his MVP Award during six years with the Angels.

Known for his powerful swing, Guerrero is a lifetime .318 hitter with 449 home runs.

Guerrero spent last season with Baltimore, hitting .290 with 13 homers and 63 RBIs, exclusively as a designated hitter.

If Guerrero proves he is ready for a return to the Major Leagues, he could provide the club with another option for the heart of its lineup. 

Former cleanup hitter Adam Lind was dropped to eighth in the batting order on Wednesday following his continued struggles at the plate. Lind entered play on Thursday hitting just .198 with three home runs and 10 RBIs, and he is coming off a 2011 season in which he was plagued by back injuries.

Starting designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion has been the Blue Jays’ best hitter this season, but he also has the ability to play first base. That could create an opening for Guerrero, who would appear likely to start against left-handed pitching while also putting pressure on Lind for regular playing time.

Lind talks about his struggles

On the main site you’ll find today’s notebook with items on Adam Lind and Jose Bautista’s continued struggles at the plate through the first month of the season. Several reporters talked to Lind prior to Saturday’s game against the Angels and since I wasn’t able to get all of into the note I wanted to post the remainder of the interview here. There’s also a lengthy transcript of Saturday’s pre-game scrum with John Farrell, who gave his thoughts on Lind/Bautista, the starting rotation, Rajai Davis and much more.

I found Lind’s interview particularly interesting because in many ways it was the exact opposite of what he said for most of last season. In 2011, most of the talk was about Lind needing to take a more patient approach at the plate and to limit the amount of times he chases balls out of the zone. Now it seems as though the club feels he has gone too far in the other direction and has become too passive at the plate.

The Blue Jays still don’t want Lind chasing bad pitches but they do want him to become more aggressive with pitches in the strikezone. It seems as though they’ve even gone as far to suggest he should stop worrying about walks and instead focus on one pitch that he can drive. That approach is more in line with what former manager Cito Gaston preached during his tenure in Toronto and was something the club got away from in 2011.

At least when it comes to Lind, the club wants him to re-visit that type of approach in the hopes that he can re-discover the 2009 form that saw him become a Silver Slugger Award winner in the American League. Here’s Lind, and also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @gregorMLB

Adam Lind:

On his struggles this season…

“I’ve felt good and thought I’d been doing pretty well up until the Texas series and the first game here. Just staying positive, I’m always trying to get hits, I’ll never throw at-bats away, or not swing the bat in any at-bat.”

You lowered your leg kick, anything else you’ve been working on?

“That’s an on-going process that can change from at-bat to at-bat, or day to day. After my second strikeout (Friday) night I just decided I’m not going to think about anything, I’m just going to let my swing do what it does and I hit the ball in my last two at-bats.

“Obviously it’s been a pretty big struggle, but it’s just part of the game. For whatever reason I have to go through it.”

Approach at the plate…

“At the beginning of the year I wasn’t really swinging the bat the way I’m capable. I mean, I was having good at-bats, seeing pitches, being a bit passive I think, but I had a talk with the staff and they said we don’t care about walks anymore, go up there and swing hard.”

How will that help…

“It definitely makes it a lot easier to get the bat through the zone when you’re just thinking about making contact instead of shortening your leg (kick) or whatever is in your head. You’re not going to change your swing during games, you’ve just got to let it work and as experienced a baseball player as I am, I’ve played since I was five, six years old, it’s amazing how hitting can make you feel like you don’t know anything about it.”

John Farrell:

On rotation exceeding expectations after turmoil late in the spring…

“There was some uncertainty. We spoke in Spring Training and talked about the potential and the talent was clearly there and guys we felt confident in even though they were untested or some of the experiences some of the guys had previous, they were challenged by what they went through a year ago and at the time we were hopeful that through those challenges they learned some things about themselves along the way and through the first 27 games, the starting rotation has not only been consistent but you could point to it as being one of the strengths of this team so far.”

On Morrow and Alvarez…

“It’s rare to be on the road and throw back-to-back shutouts but you can’t take anything away from what guys have done. Those weren’t because of some fluke things that didn’t go their way, we played some very good defence behind both Brandon and Henderson but they pitched exceptionally well. They threw a lot of first-pitch strikes, they were down in the strikezone for the most part, extremely efficient. Against an aggressive swinging club and they forced the hand, they threw strikes early in the count and by doing that they were able to get through nine innings efficiently.”

On not having to face Pujols on Saturday…

“They have a very good lineup with or without Albert in there. Obviously he has been one of the best hitters in the game and maybe the best over the last 10 years. We can’t pitch just to one guy, we’ve got nine guys that we have to face but if Kyle goes out and repeats what the progression has been for him, I think he really took a step forward in his last outing against Texas, particularly with the timing in his delivery and when to get his velocity. It showed up in his increased command and as we’ve said, he is on a good path.”

How does heavy workload from starters help the bullpen?

“I think that’s a main contributor to having a good bullpen. When your starters go deep, guys that come to the mound out of the bullpen don’t come with short rest. They come hopefully more fresh. I don’t want to say it’s a challenge now to make sure guys get enough work because their time is coming again, soon … Anytime a starter walks out for the seventh inning I think we’re not only in a good area but sometimes positive territory in terms of what the rotation is doing.”

Lind starting versus left-handed C.J. Wilson…

“Looking at the matchups he has handled him … We’re not going to run away from Adam against left-handers in its entirety but we still need him to get on track and he’ll get his regular at-bats to do just that.”

What are you seeing lately…

“He went from a year ago being overly aggressive to, I think I mentioned it the other day, to where the pendulum has swung towards too passive with strikes early in the count in an attempt to see more pitches, raise the walk total, which he has. But there is a fine line there and I think a combination of aggressiveness with seeing pitches, we’re striving to get back to.”

Coaching staff telling Lind not to worry about walks…

“We want him to make an impact with the bat. That’s going to come through driving the baseball and that’s going to be aggressive particularly when he gets into leverage counts or advantage counts and that doesn’t mean to expand the zone, that means look at an area and turn the bat loose. We want guys to go in, hit first, slam on the brakes if a pitch is outside the zone and I think he has been a little bit in between a little bit of the times.”

Final two at-bats on Friday a positive?

“Yeah, hopefully those are something to build on. Early on in the season maybe you’re looking for a couple of at-bats where things might click a little bit. We’ve talked about Jose when he sees pitches, he takes a walk, and the next thing you know he feels a little bit better about himself and the bat is a little bit more free and not overswinging it and he drives the ball out of the ballpark. Hopefully the two at-bats last night for Adam puts him in a better frame of mind going into today.”

Jose seeing a lot of quality strikes…

“I think every pitcher that goes up against him is going to try to make quality strikes from the get go because of how aggressive he is and how dominant he has been. I don’t want to say it’s just from the perspective of maybe not having the results for the work being put in but when guys are going well, on the flip side of that you could take a look at Edwin and say, you now what when he gets that one pitch around the plate he’s not missing it because he’s confident, he’s seeing the ball well, the game is kind of slow for him right now and I think Jose will certainly get back to that point and we’re hopeful he picks up from last night.”

Turnaround in this series for Jose from Game 1 vs Game 2…

“There was some discussions throughout the course of Game 1 here, he’s seeing some things, we’re giving feedback to him and I’m not going to say that’s the only reason but the fact that he did something positive, even though it was a walk, it was okay I got on base, I saw some pitches and then he sees him for the first time in Santana last night and gets a first-pitch fastball that he hits out of the ballpark, I think the walk can really just make a guy exhale a little bit and get into the flow of the game.”

Drabek… How do the shutouts from Morrow and Alvarez help him out…

“I would think he has watched the last two games and has gained some confidence in knowing okay there are areas that our scouting reports say we can go to with some level of confidence and yet his style is going to be different from the previous two. He has a good starting point I think in visibly watching the last two games and yet he has a weapon or two that he can do some things a little bit differently than both Henderson or Brandon.

Kyle going back to the cutter vs Texas…

“He threw with a little bit more frequency. I think he found that with their right-handed hitting approach, where they’re trying to stay inside the ball and go the other way, he threw a number of cutters front door into righties to put some guys away. It was an area that kind of opened up, evident by their approach, and how he attacked guys early in the count. There might be a guy or two in this lineup that you might see a similar approach to.”

Rajai healthy..

“He is, he was available last night to pinch run or even go into the outfield. He has bounced back from the slight strain that he felt the other night.”

Does Rajai make Francisco redundant?

“I think Rajai is a very good defender and you look at his career numbers versus left-handers and it’s been solid, .280-.290 type of hitter, when you have five outfielders, there’s probably a skill-set that might matchup better in certain situations. I don’t want to say it’s redundant because I think Ben is a very good pinch-hitter and can sit and come off the bench and DH after four, five days down and produce a low maintenance type of swing. He’s done just that for us.”

Both Oliver and Cordero threw bullpens on Friday…

“If a guy goes three days without getting into a game we’ll get him on the mound for sure. That’s part of a touch-up type thing, could be a 20-25 pitch pen just to get back in touch with the mound and keep their arm-strength.”

When do you decide whether to give your relievers extra work on the side?

“If you get past a certain point in the game where you don’t think you’re going to use that guy on a given night and he hasn’t had those days of work, you’ll get it late in the game, particularly with Monday being an off-day and guys have gone four days now since getting to the mound.”

May give guys some work Sunday

On Omar…

“The thought coming in this series he’d be at shortstop (Sunday), that way it gives Yunel not only (tomorrow) but also Monday off to give him two days down. He’s gone every game for us and yet the last five games, he’s really started to swing the bat well and been in the middle of all our offence. He’ll probably fight me on it but we’ll have a conversation before the end of the day about (Sunday).”

Escobar responding to flipping spots with Johnson…

“There are probably a number of factors that play into it, and it could very well be he was just starting to come out of what he was going through at time. If Kelly gets on we can open some holes for him by putting Kelly in motion, but more importantly we’re starting to see the line drives to centre field, to right-centre field a little bit more frequently. The ground balls are going to be there, that’s the type of hitter he is. I don’t want to over think it, he’s been in the middle of it the last five days.”

Escobar hitting to all fields…

“The one thing the last three games it looks like is he’s not forcing the issue as much. When guys are kind of scuffling a little bit, they might try to make it happen a little too much, or force the issue maybe. He’s been more relaxed and gotten some production, that’s going to slow a guy down and not think he’s got to swing at everything.

Farrell on the Blue Jays offence

Have to make this one quick because tonight’s game is entering its later stages… but here are some comments from manager John Farrell regarding his thoughts on the Blue Jays’ offence.

John Farrell:

Offence starting to click…

“We’re not all the way there yet. Whether we will be nightly during the course of the season remains to be seen. Guys are going to ebb and flow but fortunately we have enough guys in our lineup that if someone certain slots is not up to par we’ve got other guys that can drive the ball out of the ballpark or drive in runs in key spots. We like our team. We like our offense and yet we’ve still got some areas of improvement.”

Club seems to be more aggressive at the plate since team meeting following the Baltimore series. Coincidence?

“We talked about staying with our strengths. They were more reminders, not so much a specific message. Some of the things we talked about in Spring Training, we dealt with some frustration during those three-games in Baltimore. We acknowledged those in Spring Training and how do we deal with those? How we remain aware of them, not let those frustrations take us out of our game?

“If there’s a guy that’s not performing to his ability, we don’t want other guys to think they have to do more to make up for someone else. I think that’s what we fell into a little bit during the Baltimore series and I thought we did a better job of just executing the game situations in the two series that followed.”

Edwin in the fifth spot…

“You can look at the numbers and his performance in the five hole is substantial. Maybe there are times when guys take on a different mindset because of the spot they are at in the lineup. But I still like  a left-hander between he and Jose. We’ve got a couple of options that we can go with in that alignment, it’s Adam for right now and fortunately Edwin has come up in some key spots with men on base. A year ago, where there was talk he’s missing some RBI opportunities well he has cashed in on just about every one this year.”

Pujols… are you concerned that he might be due for a big series?

“We still have to pitch to strengths. We have scouting reports about what guys are currently doing. We’ll factor that it but to be fearful of tonight’s the night, we can’t pitch like that.

“He’s had 10 years of pretty good production. It’s going to happen sooner or later.”

Johnson/Escobar flipping spots in the batting order..

“At the end of that five days (in Spring Training), it looked really good. I didn’t want to just completely turn my back on what Yunel did a year ago. But it was something that showed a lot of promise and felt like at least in Spring Training we made both guys aware that we may look to do this if the need arose. When you break it down, the styles of both guys, Yunel is more of a prototypical two-hole hitter because of his bat control.

Added level of comfort because you’ve had them hit in those spots during Spring Training?

“I think there was more comfort on everyone’s part, mine included, but most importantly theirs. When we did it in Spring Training, both guys were like, you know what we’ve hit at the top of the order, so whatever. They were both good with it.”

Yunel’s ability to go the opposite way with a runner on first…

“He has the ability to shoot that hole, yes. But to say he is going to go up and solely look to do that, you’re still going to have to hit pitches where they’re pitched, or located. Last year, to get the most out of Corey Patterson who is a dead-pull hitter, with nobody on first base he’s hitting it right at the first baseman so it was a more logical move. Kelly’s not a dead-pull hitter, but he gets on base so this alignment gives us some flexibility to do some of the smaller things.”

Santos re-joins Blue Jays

Sergio Santos re-joined the Blue Jays on Thursday afternoon in Anaheim after being away for almost two weeks because of inflammation in his right shoulder. Santos initially left the team on April 21 to be examined by Dr. Lewis Yocum and since that required him to travel to California he also spent some time with his family that lives in the area.

It was with mixed emotions that Santos went to the Anaheim area. On one hand, he got to visit his wife and children — including a newborn baby that is less than a month old. On the other, it required Santos to spend time away from a team that he is trying to make a good impression with in his first year with the organization.

Below you’ll find today’s Q+A with Santos. On the main site, you’ll also find a notebook with items on Santos, Rajai Davis and Jeff Mathis. Later on, tonight’s game story will be posted as well. Don’t forget you can follow me on Twitter @gregorMLB.

The one positive thing that you could take away from this injury is that it allowed you to spend some more time at home with your wife and newborn baby…

“It’s bittersweet. I wanted to be at home to spend some time with my family but I want to be out with the guys, playing baseball with them. I’ve been watching them, following them, on the MLB Network and my baseball package. It was nice but just being back in the clubhouse feels good, and it feels good to put your stuff back on and I’m feeling a lot better so I’m excited about that.”

Seems like you are receiving a lot of support from teammates and the organization. Not much pressure to return from injury until you’re completely healthy…

“It was more me trying to do more. I want to come back as quickly as I can just because whenever you come to a new team you want to show what you’ve got. So that’s the hard part, the hard part is kind of holding the reins back and not letting me go. I thought I was ready to play catch, I called (trainer) George Poulis, I think five days after I was on the DL and I said okay, can I start playing catch now? I feel better can we get going? He said no.

“They are taking their time and it kind of shows that they care about me. They want me to get healthy and help this team because me being injured obviously doesn’t help the team and me trying to play while I’m injured doesn’t help much either.”

What has been the most difficult aspect of this…

“I think just the mental part of it. Just kind of knowing that you’re going to be the same guy as soon as your arm feels good. That’s what I’m looking forward to, that’s what I’m working hard to get healthy.”

Where are you at right now in terms of your rehab?

“I haven’t started throwing yet. I’ll start this weekend. I’ll do some shoulder program stuff and kind of strengthen the muscles around my shoulder and then start playing catch.”

And what about your timeframe for a return?

“I don’t know but it shouldn’t be too long. I’m assuming it should probably be a couple of weeks of getting my arm strength back to game form. Hopefully within the next 12-14 days that would be perfect.”

First time you’ve had an injury as a pitcher?

“I went on the DL once in 2009 for a strained hamstring, my left hamstring. But first time it’s arm-related stuff.”

Can you just run us through when you first realized you were hurt and what was going through your mind at that time?

“It was that night, letting a couple of pitches go. I just felt kind of aching in my shoulder, kind of warming up. That night was a little difficult trying to get loose and then just that following day it just felt kind of too painful to play catch. It was like, okay, my arm should feel sore but not this sore. With a precautionary thought, I came in and told them, got the MRIs done, and their best assumption was to just shut it down, let the inflammation calm down and luckily that’s all that it was.”

What made you decide to visit Dr. Yocum? The fact that he was close to your family in California?

“Our team doctor was going to be away for a couple of weeks and it was either going to be Dr. Andrews or Dr. Yocum. Another three-hour flight, two-hour flight, so I said it might as well be Yocum and get a couple of days here. I’ve met with Dr. Yocum quite a few times before so we’ve had kind of a rapport already, we’ve talked already.”

Since this is the first time you experienced that type of injury… when you first felt the discomfort was there a concern on your part that it could be a major injury?

“You can’t help but let the wheels start turning and start thinking about what it could be. That’s kind of why I wanted to get an MRI done too, to put that fear and put all the bad thoughts whatever it could be out of mind and just say, look it is what it is. It’s just inflammation in the shoulder, no tears, so it’s good.

“I was fighting myself kind of all day if I should say something or not. It hurt warming up, just achy I guess, and once I got loose it was fine … Then you start thinking can I make it worse? Can this get worse? And since it wasn’t that bad I’d rather just nip it in the bud rather than have to worry about it again.”

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