'It’s more of a pain in the a... than a pain'; Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez on the DL over finger blister
Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez on the mound against the Baltimore Orioles in Toronto on Friday April 14, 2017. (Craig Robertson/Toronto Sun/Postmedia Network)
It’s only a dozen games into the season, but the Blue Jays looked baked.
Losing to the East Division rivals Baltimore Orioles 11-4 on Sunday afternoon at the Rogers Centre dropped the Jays to 2-10 on the season. But worse than that, they’ve lost two of their starting pitchers for a indeterminate period of time.
Right-hander Aaron Sanchez was put on the 10-day disabled list on Sunday because of a right middle finger blister and will consult with renowned dermatologist Dr. Glenn Goldstein in Kansas City tomorrow.
In Sunday’s loss to the Orioles, left-hander J.A. Happ — he of the 20 wins last season — will have an MRI done on Monday to determine why he is experiencing left elbow soreness. Happ was forced to leave Sunday’s game in the fifth inning. 2015 AL MVP Josh Donaldson is already on the DL with a right calf strain and left handed reliever J.P. Howell is out with a sore shoulder.
“The last pitch of the fourth inning, I felt kind of a pull, a tug in my elbow and when I got out there for the fifth, then it just kind of got progressively worse,” said Happ, who gave up four hits in 4.1 innings against the O’s before being pulled. “I tired to throw my last pitch, a (two-seam) fastball and it just grabbed on me.”
With four key players injured, the reeling Blue Jays have to figure out a way to claw their way to respectability in what is arguably the toughest division in baseball. That’s not going to be easy.
After two years of dealing with blister issues, Sanchez finally reached the point where he had enough.
“It’s been something that’s kind of off and on, we don’t really know when it comes, how it comes, why it’s coming,” Sanchez said. “So this is the opportunity to kind of just hopefully figure it all out.”
Sitting in the dugout, you could see the frustration in the young pitcher’s face. Dealing with a knee or arm injury is equally devastating but when you’re knocked on the DL because of recurrent blister problems, it’s a different ball game. It’s more of a pain in the a... than a pain. Ask former Jays left-hander Al Leiter whose blister problems were so bad that he appeared in just nine games with Toronto during his first four seasons with the club. Sanchez and the organization have decided that it’s time to get past the maintenance phase — trying to keep the blister down between starts — and get a real handle on the problem.
“I think at the beginning it’s, ‘Alright, let’s do whatever we can do to maintain this thing.’ And now it’s gotten to the point where I’ve done everything in terms of keeping the skin soft, keeping the skin hard, and letting the nail grow, cutting the nail short. It still seems to find its way back,” said Sanchez, who finished last season with a 15–2 record, 3.00 ERA, and 161 strikeouts in 192 innings pitched. “So we had been talking on the phone to the specialists and now I get to see him in person hopefully there’s a little bit more information we can gather.”
Sanchez, 24, said throwing the curve ball tends to start the problem.
“My first two or three or four (curve balls) in a game are really good and once you continue to do that now it starts to affect my sinker, now it starts to affect other pitches,” he said. “I can’t keep going out there faking. If I don’t feel at my best, you’re not going to get the best of me and it’s just not worth it for me and it’s not worth it for the team, so we’ve come to a decision to hopefully knock this out and hopefully it never comes back.”
Sanchez said when the blister problem arises in a game, he starts compensating by changing his routine, which is a recipe for disaster.
“I can’t keep altering my mechanics and kind of put my other body parts in jeopardy for something that’s so little,” said the Barstow Calif., native. “I’m doing other things to alter (my pitches) because of the pressure on my finger is to the point where I can’t even throw the ball. So I’m trying to do everything else and when I come out of the game I’m sore, a lot more sore than I’ve ever been in certain areas, where if I push this thing any longer I’m at risk for injuring other parts of my body and it’s not smart. I need to get this thing knocked out.”
Sanchez is hopeful that Goldstein will figure out a way to get his blister problems under control quickly, and once and for all.
“I’m not hoping it’s going to take too long. It’s so hit and miss, it’s the finger, it’s one of the most important things for me in terms of feeling, in terms of command. And you go out there and you’re not at your top, it’s hard to compete. So we’ll see. Hopefully it’s not too long. But only time will tell.”