From bad to worse
The current situation facing the Blue Jays starting rotation couldn’t be much worse. The biggest blow came earlier this week when Brandon Morrow suffered a strained left oblique. Things went from bad to worse on Friday, though, when it was revealed that doctors found a tear in Kyle Drabek’s UCL and right-hander Drew Hutchison left his start later that night with right elbow soreness.
Brett Cecil was en route to Toronto as of late Friday afternoon but with the pitchers seemingly dropping like flies there’s going to be a need for more recruits in the near future. Deck McGuire and Chad Jenkins entered this season as the prospects likely the closest to being Major League ready but both have seen more than their fair share of struggles at Double-A New Hampshire.
Neither right-hander is expected to receive consideration for a promotion to the Major Leagues at this time. Instead, the vacancies — assuming Hutchison is headed or the disabled list — will go to Jesse Chavez, Robert Coello, Aaron Laffey or Joel Carreno. Carlos Villanueva also made a case for himself with a strong performance out of the bullpen on Friday night but would require a lot of patience if he needed to be stretched out as a starter. Chavez has enjoyed a great season in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League but as a whole those aren’t the type of names that are going to strike fear into the hearts of the opposition.
The timetable on Morrow is still unclear while Drabek could be forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. There still wasn’t any word on Hutchison at the time of this post but the club will have to hope for the best because there aren’t a lot of viable options left in the tank.
Below, I’ve included full reaction from Alex Anthopoulos, John Farrell and Kyle Drabek. Please note, I am posting this during Friday’s game so while Hutchison is injured there is still available update on his status at this time. Don’t forget to give me a follow on Twitter @gregorMLB
Why Cecil for Sunday’s start?
“Tony LaCava was just there and one, it lines up with just in terms of start days for him, but Brett deserves it. He pitched very well in New Hampshire. The reports we got from the staff down there were very strong. We wanted to see again — it was just one start in Las Vegas — but how that was going carry over and Tony was there and said he looked very good. So, he has worked hard, he has maintained his approach and we think he’s going to be able to help the team.”
Ever find a reason behind the drop in velocity?
“I don’t know to be honest with you. I think, one of the things is he lost all that weight in Spring Training, adjusted his body, got back onto a long toss program. This kind of happened last year as well, where he went down and got his arm strength back. Maybe we’ll just have to change his offseason routine somehow but it just seems like it takes him a little bit longer to get the arm strength going. I wish I knew exactly what it was but either way he’s throwing the ball well.”
Have you made any decisions on who will start Tuesday?
“We have an idea. We haven’t made the decision yet but we know that Tuesday will be the day we line the rotation so we can set it up that way. But we still want to see what’s going to happen the next three days. We make a decision today and something happens in the next three days we’d have to make a change.”
He seemed to be over throwing during Spring Training to compensate for a lack of velocity. Is he comfortable with the velocity he currently has?
“I think so … I think in Spring Training it wasn’t velocity as much as it was command. He just wasn’t commanding the ball the way he has in the past. He has a plus changeup, throws strikes, that’s one thing he has always done so if he’s not throwing strikes he’s not the same guy. I think spring obviously he started out well and then got into a funk trying to make the team, worked so hard in the offseason, expectations all of those things. I think he’s in a great place right now, understood going down, needed to get himself right and sounds like he did get himself right.”
Update on Drabek?
“We got MRIs done here, they did show a tear of his UCL. So, right now we’re going to send him to Dr. Andrews to be 100% sure on Monday just to lay his hands on him, examine him. The odd thing about it is that he doesn’t have any pain. That’s just a part of, guys have tears, there are guys all over the game that have tears that can throw with it. From that standpoint, we just have to make 100% sure, we’ll know more on Monday after Andrews sees him.”
Not a lot of guys have had Tommy John twice…
“I talked to Jason Frasor about it, he had it twice and he has never been on the DL since. He’s mid-30s right now and he’s had it twice. It’s hard to say, could be the way it was done. I know in terms of Frasor, when they did it the first time it may not have been done exactly the way it needed to be done. There’s just no way to tell. It’s certainly a occurred to a few other guys before, the recovery rate is fine, but the odd part about it is that he doesn’t have any pain. It’s not what you’d expect it to be. That’s why, I asked our guys, is it 100% and they said no, that’s why we’re going to send him down to Andrews just to see.”
Do you think he might have been injured for awhile and didn’t notice it until Wednesday?
“I don’t know. I talked to Kyle about it a day ago and I just asked him, he felt pretty good the whole way. He was a little sore, a little more sore than normal but not anything to be alarmed about. Even today, he’s not, even on the mound he felt fine, he just felt that pop and he got scared. It’s not like there’s a lot of pain or anything like that at all so that’s the odd part about it. In terms of the loss of control, I thought his velocity was a little bit down, not much, maybe a mile or two, it’s really hard to pinpoint it one way or the other. It’s just an odd case but there’s no question he might have to end up going down that path.”
Any update on Morrow?
“No, with the oblique, I remember Romero had it in 2009, it’s one of those things where you need it to rest. The tough part about it is that you can’t really do a whole lot. If you’re a starter, you can’t throw, you can’t keep your arm in shape, all those kind of things. I think it’s just going to take time and we don’t know how quickly he’s going to heal but at least it’s going to be the two weeks as a minimum and then we’ll see where he’s at. But to get him on a throwing program to get him built back up to start is going to take a little bit of time but he needs to make sure it’s completely healed first.”
This has to be a major blow to lose two starts in three games…
“It’s always tough but I don’t think you go into any year, you realize it can happen, whether it’s a position player, a reliever, so on. It happens. No one’s going to feel sorry for you. We’ve seen injuries across the game, they finally hit us in the middle of June, but hopefully we have some guys that come up and do a good job for us. But it happens, it happens each year to all of the clubs.
“There’s no question, you lose two of your starters it’s not a good thing. But at that point there are opportunities for some of these other guys. Maybe a guy like Brett can come up and do a good job for us and whoever ends up getting that next start for us can do a good job for us as well. You can’t overreact, it happens, it’s part of the game, you don’t want it to happen to you but at the same time we still have games to play and we’re still going to try to take a run at this thing.”
Make or break for Brett?
“No, I don’t think at any point with any players you can look at it that way. You can go through all the rosters and players that have gone up and down, been out of options, and things finally clicked. Encarnacion, Jose Bautista. Until we don’t have the player we’re always going to try to give them an opportunity to do well for us.”
You say try to make a run at this thing but that’s going to be tough after losing two starters and your offense still struggling…
“I’m not sitting here, I’m not making any projections … I haven’t claimed any win totals. I’ve said we plan on continuing to be competitive and to compete. We’re never going to just lay down and not compete. This club top to bottom. I don’t think I’ve said anything to the contrary of that but there are 25 guys on this team and we have three and a half months left and guys can still do well for us and hopefully we can get on a run starting tonight.”
Who are the candidates for Tuesday’s start?
“Obviously a guy like Laffey has been solid down there. Coello has been stretched out to start. Those are probably the guys on the short list that have done well for us down there. Those are probably the main guys.
“Carreno’s getting moved up there. He’s just getting moved up to Vegas, the guys that are in Vegas right probably have a leg up but he certainly could be a candidate as well.”
What does Snider need to do to get back up to the big leagues now that he’s healthy?
“Play well. He just has to play well, get back in Las Vegas, get hot, start playing well to put himself into the mix. But he’s going to need some at-bats, obviously more than a game or two just to show he’s locked in and playing as well as he did before he got hurt.”
Why Cecil for Sunday?
“Continued his progression coming out of Spring Training. Overall better command, increased arm strength. Combination of those two in addition to success at this level previously. He’s the guy for Sunday.”
He was clearly frustrated at the end of Spring Training. Where is he now, compared to where he was back then?
“It was clear that he was frustrated with the way Spring Training progressed. He got off to a good start from a results standpoint and I think he was a little, like I said, frustrated with maybe the inconsistencies and the velocity not getting to where I think he or others intended, or envisioned as Opening Day neared. I think at that point it was very clear that he needed more time, he needed more starts and innings pitched to pitch with a revamped physique and has done just that.”
Why Sunday for Cecil instead of Monday?
“There’s, I don’t want to say the need, but wanted to give an extra day to Henderson. When you look at the performances of both teams that we’re facing back-to-back days, how left-handers have fared and right-handers have fared against both teams, that was part of it. So, we had options on Sunday.”
How did Drabek take the news of a tear in his UCL?
“In talking with him a couple of times yesterday, he was down. This is someone that has already experienced a Tommy John surgery previous and the rehab that follows that. What’s unique about this one, is that even when he felt the sensation on the mound he had good strength and he has good range of motion in here today with little discomfort at all. So, the need for a second opinion is there but as a pitcher and what he went through, it’s natural to assume the worst and that had him, dejected.”
Is this a bizarre case?
“Yeah, because the MRI shows an injured ligament and yet at the same time his symptoms are not consistent with a tear. You would have a guy that either would have swelling or he would very sore when you go through a range of motion or you place some stress on the elbow to test the ligament. That could speak to the overall strength of the muscles that support the elbow. But, still, there’s something that’s definitive in there and with respect to Kyle, we’ve got to make sure that we expose him to the best available to determine the extent of the injury and what the next steps are.”
“I was down because they said they saw a little tear and right when they said that I flashed back to when I had it previously. Hated going through it, you miss a year of baseball, you miss a year of hanging out with the guys. Today it’s a little different because it doesn’t feel the same way it did the first time, I still have mobility in my arm and when I had it before, everything was pained.”
Last MRI when he was traded, possible there for a while?
“He was wondering the same thing, we don’t know. Up until the past week it’s felt great. I’m hoping what they saw might have been there and it’s just a little rehab. I’ll wait to see.
“Haven’t really talked much about best-case, worst-case. The best case is it’s a month, two months of rehab, worst case is that it’s completely torn and I have to miss a full year.”
Not many guys have gone through it twice…
“I don’t know that many guys who have gone through two. Talking with Frasor, after his second one he said he’s felt great ever since. It’s tough. If I have to have it again, it’s going to be hard rehab because it was hard the first time, and I’m sure it’s going to be even harder the second time.”
Talk to your dad?
“He knows as much as you all do. He’s pretty much in the same boat as me, hoping it’s a best-case scenario, rehab a little bit, he’s going to be coming up here, either (Saturday) or the next one, he’s having trouble with his passport, so I don’t know? He’s in Cali but he left it in Houston. We’ll see how that works out.
Silver-lining be that he’s 25, with big-league time behind him?
“If I have to have it again, take my year, rehab real hard and try to get back here as soon as possible healthy.”
Reason to think might be wrong since no pain?
“A little bit, in the case that I can move my arm a lot better than I normally would and really the pain is just in the forearm and behind the elbow. It’s what I’m hoping for. It’s either a year thing or a few months thing.”
Pain in weeks before?
“Not really, it was normal soreness, maybe a little bit more, but at game-time I felt great. It was getting a little sore in the game, but nothing that I wouldn’t be able to pitch through and then the pop happened.”
“I didn’t really feel anything the first time, I was just throwing, threw a fastball and it kind of ached a little bit, didn’t think anything, threw a curveball, felt fine, then I threw another fastball and the pain started happening. I don’t hear or feel anything, it was just pain. This time I could feel the pop. It was in the back of the elbow so it was almost like I extended it more, almost like a shot-gun feeling.”