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Smith keeps focus on helping Toronto win

MLB.com

TORONTO -- Reliever Joe Smith may have the most appeal league-wide as Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. Even for an 11-year veteran who was dealt on Deadline Day just one year ago, though, it's not a normal experience.

"It's still a mess anytime you hear it," Smith said. "I mean, it's just the chatter, but ultimately I can't worry about that. I just worry about pitching, just like anybody else in this clubhouse, we can't worry about it."

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TORONTO -- Reliever Joe Smith may have the most appeal league-wide as Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches. Even for an 11-year veteran who was dealt on Deadline Day just one year ago, though, it's not a normal experience.

"It's still a mess anytime you hear it," Smith said. "I mean, it's just the chatter, but ultimately I can't worry about that. I just worry about pitching, just like anybody else in this clubhouse, we can't worry about it."

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Smith developed into Toronto's setup man prior to hitting the disabled list with shoulder inflammation in mid-June, and now that he's back, the right-hander should be an attractive piece to any contender looking to bolster its bullpen. He owns a 3.48 ERA on the season that was inflated by a three-run outing just prior to his DL stint, and his strikeout rate has shot far above his career averages.

Typically known for his deceptive, sidearm delivery and the ability to produce ground balls, Smith has struck out 50 batters in 33 2/3 innings this season while walking just eight. Smith allowed a pair of hits and one run in his first appearance back off the DL on Sunday, but looked very sharp on Tuesday, throwing a clean inning on just 12 pitches while striking out one.

"I feel really good today," Smith said. "It's gotten better each time out. I think that was a worry, for me personally, maybe in my rehab assignment. Like I said, I threw yesterday and I felt normal. That's a good sign."

Manager John Gibbons still doesn't plan to use the right-hander on back-to-back days, but Smith expects to pitch without limitations soon.

"Last night I was able to locate a lot better," Smith said. "I can still be better, I know, but it's coming. Everything's going well and the more I get out there, the better I feel."

Last season, Smith was traded from the Angels to the Cubs, where he provided a 2.51 ERA over 16 appearances down the stretch. As speculation builds over the coming days, though, Smith remains focused on helping the Blue Jays make a run of their own.

"We've got 25 guys here and our job is to go out there and try to win tonight's game," Smith said. "We've just got to keep looking at that and keep going forward, and who knows what will happen?"

Keegan Matheson is a reporter for MLB.com based in Toronto.

Toronto Blue Jays, Joe Smith