If there’s one hitter on this Blue Jays roster who knows the ins and outs of Buffalo’s Sahlen Field, it’s Rowdy Tellez.
Tellez has played 260 games for the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons, racking up over 1,000 plate appearances at the level. His towering blast to right field on Wednesday against the Marlins was one of seven the Blue Jays hit in a wild 14-11 loss, which has led some to paint Sahlen Field as a launching pad for hitters.
Even prior to that game, Marlins manager Don Mattingly said that Buffalo would be “some kind of bandbox” if the wind is blowing out. Tellez disagrees.
“Mr. Mattingly played for a long time. I don’t think he’s played in Buffalo for as long as I have,” Tellez said with a smile, “so those statements aren’t really valid. This stadium is not really the easiest place to hit in, especially for a left-handed hitter.”
Ask hitters who have played at Sahlen Field for long stretches, and you’ll typically hear that it plays "fair." There can be extremes, though, as we saw on Wednesday, when the wind is blowing out to the fences.
“The second night, when we hit all those home runs, that’s not normal,” Tellez said. “There’s not many Buffalo days that are like that, in my opinion. I haven’t seen many days in the time I’ve been here that the wind’s not blowing. If you do, it’s a rare occurrence and it’s usually a high-scoring game.”
When the wind is coming against hitters from one direction, Tellez says that the only way to drive the ball deep is to keep it low, as balls hit high enough to go above the stadium walls can get eaten up. The Blue Jays have some fly ball pitchers in their rotation, too, so things could get interesting depending on the forecast.
Another variable for hitters at Sahlen Field is the batter’s eye in center field. The Blue Jays decided to black out the bottom third of the video board in center based on that feedback, which improves the view for some hitters, but for a hitter like Tellez, it’s still difficult.
“It’s still terrible,” Tellez said. “It’s better than it has been, I’ll give you that. It’s not the lower portion that’s always been the problem for me, being a taller hitter. It’s always the upper portion when you face those taller arms. The big thing for me, and I’ve said it since my first time hitting here, is the shadows.”
Those shadows come from nearby towers and stretch across the field like stripes, Tellez said, during evening games. They clearly weren’t bothering him in that finale against the Marlins, though, where Tellez went 3-for-5 with two doubles and a home run.
Giles progressing after reevaluation
Ken Giles (right forearm strain) underwent an MRI as part of his reevaluation on Wednesday, and all signs are positive at this point.
“We don’t have a timeline yet for his return, but the good news is that he’s feeling good,” manager Charlie Montoyo said.
Giles is confident that he’ll contribute this season, and playing catch on Friday is a first step in that direction. The Blue Jays’ bullpen has held itself together in his absence, outside of Tuesday’s blown save by Anthony Bass before the Blue Jays won in extras, but getting one of baseball’s best closers back in the picture would be welcome news for the Blue Jays after the initial worries.
• Right-hander Trent Thornton (right elbow inflammation) threw a bullpen on Friday and felt good, Montoyo said, but there is no timeline set just yet.
• Outfielder Derek Fisher (left quad strain) ran the bases on Thursday and felt good, Montoyo said, so his return should be nearing.
• When Fisher returns, Montoyo believes he’ll first need some live BP sessions to get back up to speed. Given that there is no rehab assignment option without Minor League play in 2020, clubs will need to get creative by using their alternate training sites and live BP to make up for it.