Maybe you should ignore all that fanciful talk floating around in cyberspace about the Toronto Blue Jays’ strong interest in Jeff Samardzija to bolster a not-quite-ready-for-prime-time pitching staff.
The answer just might rest in their own backyard by the name of Brandon Morrow.
The forgotten man of the Toronto pitching staff has spent the past seven weeks or so essentially playing with rehabilitation finger puppets in Arizona, hoping to avoid surgery.
Morrow is also praying that the Blue Jays can continue their strong play deep into the summer so he can try and make a triumphant return to the starting rotation and perhaps be the difference-maker in a pennant race.
His return is a longshot, something Morrow has to understand deep down inside. But it is that postseason dream that has kept him focused through a tedious rehab journey as he tries to bounce back from a torn right index finger tendon sheath.
“That’s really what you’ve got to use,” Morrow said on Tuesday at Rogers Centre in advance of the Blue Jays-New York Yankees game. “There’s nothing else to motivate you.”
Morrow was witness to a pretty crazy game. The Blue Jays blew a big early lead before coming back to record an exhausting 7-6 victory for their second straight win over their American League East rival.
Melky Cabrera proved the hero, laying down a bunt after Jose Reyes led off the ninth inning with a sharply-stroked double into right field. The bunt was fielded by Yankee third baseman Yangervis Solarte, but his hurried throw to first was wide of the mark, allowing Reyes to scamper all the way home for the winning run.
For the first time since he injured himself on May 2, Morrow was back in Toronto to reacquaint himself with his teammates and get the in-person once-over from Blue Jays management on his recovery process.
“It’s been great,” Morrow said, the injured digit still wrapped in a light splint just to keep it protected from any unexpected knocks. “Throwing’s been good for the last week.”
The Blue Jays were counting on Morrow and his lively right arm to be a key component of their starting rotation this season. But, as has been an alarming trend the last couple of seasons for the laid-back Californian, an injury has derailed those plans.
And when Morrow heard something go “pop” in his finger while pitching against the Pittsburgh Pirates in early May, it was back to the disabled list for the 29-year-old.
Surgery to fix the problem could still be an option, but that decision has been put off to see if a strengthening program at an Arizona rehab clinic might instead do the trick.
Morrow has only just started light throwing, and so far so good. But he is still weeks, perhaps months, away from being Major League ready. Still, from the Blue Jays perspective, if they can somehow hang in through all the injuries that have beset the team of late to remain in the fight for a playoff spot, Morrow’s return might be an avenue worth exploring.
General manager Alex Anthopoulos last week said that trade talks were just beginning to heat up and that he would not be averse to upgrading at any position if the right deal presented itself. Starting pitching would be an obvious area for Toronto to improve.
On Tuesday, FoxSports.com reported that the Blue Jays were still actively kicking the tires on Samardzija, the opening-day pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. Jon Morosi reported that Toronto’s pro scouting director, Perry Minasian, attended Samardzija’s start on Monday at Wrigley Field while the Cubs have been busy evaluating Toronto’s farm system.
According to Morosi, the price for Samardzija would be steep as the Cubs would want Triple-A righthander Aaron Sanchez, Double-A left-hander Daniel Norris, and Class-A centre fielder Dalton Pompey in order to make any deal happen.
That would be a pretty hefty price tag to have to pay and something that the Blue Jays will have to carefully evaluate, especially if they believe that Morrow could come back and be a factor this season.
Tuesday’s game was a wild affair, with the Blue Jays squandering a 6-0 lead they had built up through five innings before things began to unravel.
The Yankees got one back in the sixth on a Derek Jeter home run and then five more in the sixth where Toronto starting pitcher Mark Buehrle, vying for his 11th win on the year, gave way to reliever Dustin McGowan.
The Yankees sent 10 batters up to the plate in the inning and their last two runs were allowed to score after Reyes committed his second throwing error of the game.