Notes: Ryu adapting, Thornton's pitch mix

July 19th, 2020

TORONTO -- On Saturday evening, threw some of his final pitches at Rogers Centre in 2020.

With news earlier in the day that the Blue Jays had been denied government approval to play their regular-season games in Toronto, Ryu and his teammates are facing even more uncertainty. Before considering any of that, though, Ryu expressed his understanding of the decision and appreciation of how it’s been handled in Canada.

“COVID-19 still exists, and there are hardworking people on the front lines trying to battle the virus,” Ryu said. “You have to respect the Canadian government’s decision to keep the nation safe.”

This isn’t what Ryu was expecting when he signed a four-year, $80 million deal with the Blue Jays this past offseason. His value hasn’t changed, though, and might be even greater now.

This young Blue Jays team believes, to a man, that the 60-game season gives them a better opportunity to sneak into the playoffs ahead of when many expect them to arrive. If Ryu is pitching one-fifth of their games at the ace level he’s capable of, suddenly that becomes much more realistic.

“We just have to deal with it as players, and one of our jobs is to adapt to new types of situations,” Ryu said. “We have have to rally together -- not just myself, but my teammates as well. Wherever we end up being, we have to get used to that place.”

After staying well stretched out over the shutdown, Ryu should be ramped up close to “full” by Opening Day. He hasn’t been officially announced as the starter on Friday against the Rays by manager Charlie Montoyo yet, but it’s clearly his to take.

Ryu pitched five innings in Saturday’s intrasquad game and allowed four runs, but he got in 75 pitches and came away feeling healthy.

Thornton ready to roll
From this point in Summer Camp, Trent Thornton feels confident that he’ll be able to “let it all eat,” as he says, with a full workload. He’s tinkered with his diverse repertoire since last season, but he enters 2020 with a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a cutter, a curveball, a slider and a changeup. He threw each of those pitches on Friday.

“I feel like I’m a little bit ahead of that. I went five innings, 80-ish pitches," Thornton said. "I could have kept throwing, and I felt good. My stuff felt good. There was a little bit of fatigue at the end, but this was also the first time I’d pitched in an actual [intrasquad] game. My other two were live BPs, so there’s a little more adrenaline, and you’re a little more amped up.”

Unique first for Martin
Austin Martin’s first “real” at-bat of Summer Camp came on Saturday after the intrasquad game had ended. Facing Anthony Bass in a live BP setting with only some of the defensive positions manned, Martin blooped a ball into shallow right field that likely would have gone for a single.

Extras from camp
Bo Bichette opened his night on Saturday with a double into the left-field corner against Tanner Roark. He’s been attacking pitchers very early, especially in his first plate appearance of the game.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. took Roark deep to left field soon after Bichette’s double. Time will tell if his adjustments to add more launch angle have worked.

Anthony Alford got to Ryu for a home run in the second inning. Montoyo says Alford will be used situationally based on matchups this year. In the field, he robbed Teoscar Hernández of extra bases with an exceptional leaping catch at the wall in center.

Travis Shaw recorded a pair of hits off Ryu, a good sign for the third baseman who Montoyo says will get a shot at facing lefties early.