TORONTO -- There continues to be more questions than answers when it comes to the Blue Jays’ rotation.
Hours before Thursday’s series finale against the Red Sox, right-hander Marcus Stroman was scratched from his start, as he is still experiencing some discomfort after leaving his most recent outing, on Saturday, with a cramped left shoulder pectoral.
The team’s lone All-Star finished four innings, allowing three runs on four hits with four strikeouts against the Royals in that appearance, and at the time he believed he would not miss this start. Toronto is confident that the injury won’t be a long-term issue, and that it is possible he will be on the hill before the All-Star break.
“He’s still the same way, day to day,” manager Charlie Montoyo said. “But again, if he’s not 100 percent, we’re not going to pitch him. There’s a chance that he won’t pitch until after the All-Star break, but if he’s fine, he’ll pitch. … If he plays catch today and feels like he could throw a bullpen or something nice and easy, that he could go, then we’ll pitch him.”
With Stroman hurting, Toronto recalled left-hander Thomas Pannone from Triple-A Buffalo ahead of the matchup with Boston. Pannone had been slated to start for the Bisons on Thursday after being named the International League Pitcher of the Week on Monday.
Pannone followed opener Derek Law in Thursday's 8-7 loss and allowed four runs on four hits in 4 1/3 innings after retiring the first eight batters he faced.
The business of baseball
To make room on the roster for Pannone, right-hander Jacob Waguespack was optioned to Buffalo after a performance against the Red Sox that earned him his first big league win on Wednesday night. Waguespack finished five innings -- on a limited pitch count -- and allowed three runs on six hits, walking none and striking out four.
“I kept the scorecard,” Waguespack said of the occasion. “It’s awesome. It’s something you work for, for so long, and it was cool. Everybody was happy for me. It was a cool experience.”
Despite giving the team everything it needed on Wednesday night, the Louisiana native understood that the nature of the game might factor into where he would land on Thursday.
“Obviously, I knew that Stro is dealing with some stuff,” he said. “So once the game was over, I pretty much knew that I was going to go down, because I didn’t think Stro was going to go anywhere, but it’s all good. I’m fine with it. It’s part of the business, and I know that I can compete at this level, and hopefully I’ll be back soon.”
Maintaining a consistent level of positivity no matter the circumstances has been easy for Waguespack, who signed as an undrafted free agent with the Phillies after three years at Ole Miss and is now in his fifth season of professional baseball.
“My journey here, it’s not like many others who get drafted in the first round or sign for a lot of money or stuff like that,” he said. “So I know that I could be doing something else, and my path is [the one less traveled]. I try to stay positive, because anybody could be doing anything else, but you’re a professional baseball player, you’ve pitched in the big leagues.
“That’s something nobody can ever take away from you.”
Keep doing what you’re doing
The Blue Jays optioned Waguespack one day after optioning Sean Reid-Foley to Buffalo to make room for him. That transaction followed a stellar performance that saw Reid-Foley take the mound a day ahead of schedule and give the team 3 1/3 perfect innings.
The message to both young hurlers was the same.
“That’s the tough job for me,” Montoyo said. “Actually, it’s an easy job when somebody pitches well -- ‘We’ll see you back, keep doing what you’re doing. You just pitched against a pretty good lineup and you did a great job, so we’ll see you soon.’ That’s actually what I said. That’s actually easier than when somebody’s struggling.”
Knowing that the moves the team makes are not necessarily dictated by performance, or anything within his control, Waguespack believes that having consistency in his routine helps him stay ready for anything on the horizon.
“It’s just about coming to the ballpark every day and keeping your head down and working,” Waguespack said. “Go to the weight room, get your lifts in, do your arm care, sticking with that routine every day.
“That should keep you grounded to where you’re not really thinking about that other stuff that you can’t control. If I get all my work done, then there’s nothing to worry about. Obviously, there will be moves made in the future, so we’ll see what happens and go from there.”