In a season filled with pitching uncertainties Darren Oliver has been a beacon of consistency for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Now, at the age of 42, it is the left-hander who is uncertain if he wants to continue his Major League career another season.
“I’m not thinking about it right now,” Oliver said on Sunday, when asked if he is up to another year. “I’ll worry about that when the season’s over, when I’m at home, relaxing. You guys catch me in the off-season somewhere. See what happens when I’m in the Bahamas.”
With Blue Jay pitching staff a dicey proposition all season, either through injury or sub-par performances, Oliver has been one name that manager John Farrell has been able count on to get the job done.
In this, his 19th Major League Baseball season, the reliever has held opponents to a .208 average (41-197) and allowed a run in just nine of his 60 games. On September 16th in Boston, Oliver recorded his team-leading 15th hold of the year.
Oliver knows what it takes to win as this will be the first time since 2006 that teams he has been a part of have failed to make the postseason. And the Blue Jays would dearly welcome him back if he is willing.
“I’ve kind of been spoiled over the past few years,” Oliver said. “Like they say, every good thing always comes to an end. Teams are going to make the playoffs and teams aren’t. I never took it for granted, the past years when we did make the playoffs.
“Everybody in this room, once they get a taste of it, they’re going to know what’s it like to be there and always want to grind to get back.”
Oliver has two children, aged 10 and 12, and their well-being will factor into his off-season decision on whether to continue or not.
“My two kids and my wife,” Oliver said. “I would never play this game and be away from them and take that away from them. Every kid needs a father at home. That’s important to me. I think it should be important to a lot of people. Baseball’s second. Family’s first. I’ve always said that.”
Farrell said he is not really in a position to try to influence Oliver’s decision one way or another.
“That’s one of those areas only that person truly knows,” Farrell said. “Because he’s performed so well you all of a sudden assume, that, hey, there’s a lot of good pitching left. I’m hopeful that he’ll say yes he will continue, for obvious reasons – the way he performs and the way he handles himself and the steadying force he is with the team.
“On the flip side, is that player wondering should he go home, pursue other things. And the question is, what is your gut telling you. And if there’s ever any uncertainty then you say keep going. That has to be exhausted. “