TORONTO -- There’s no one who wants to see Ken Giles return to the mound for the Blue Jays more than the man himself.
Battling through right elbow inflammation for the majority of the season, the 28-year-old right-hander was once again unavailable for Toronto in a save situation on Saturday because his arm just wasn’t up to the challenge. With an earlier stint on the injured list and a cortisone injection on July 29 that helped in the short term, the closer’s status remains uncertain.
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs so far with my inflammation and stuff like that,” Giles said. “It’s thrown me off a little bit, and there’s some lingering [pain] still there that I have to fight through, the aftereffects. I just need to be cautious and make sure I don’t push myself to something that could become a bigger issue down the road.”
After Saturday’s win over the Yankees, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo shared that, “His arm is not bouncing back. If he’s not able to bounce back and stuff, then he might have to go on the IL. We’re talking about it -- if it’s a couple more days, if it can wait, that was the conversation we were just having.”
When he’s been able to take the hill, Giles has been very impressive for the Blue Jays this season. He owns a 1.95 ERA over 37 appearances and 37 innings, with 12 walks and 61 strikeouts, and has also earned 15 saves, mostly while competing at less than his best.
“I’m just trying to fight through some things right now,” Giles said. “I’m just trying to work through it right now. If I don’t feel like I can perform at the capacity [where] I’m not going to be able to help the team in any way possible, that’s where I need to be. I didn’t feel right [on Saturday] and I had to take a step back and make sure everything was OK for myself.”
One of the most trying aspects of the uncertainty Giles has dealt with this season has been his inability to help his team when it could use him the most.
“It’s not a good feeling when you can’t go out there and compete for your teammates,” he said. “And right now, I’m just not put together. I’m trying to take things slow and find my rhythm. I’m fighting it right now and I’ve just got to figure out a way to find my rhythm really. Just trying to fix things, and it’s been pretty tough.”
Adding to the difficulty is that his injury woes are completely unfamiliar territory.
“This is something new to me,” Giles said. “So that’s why I have to take it slow and not try to push myself to the edge, to the point where it could be really damaging. That’s the really tough part. You want to go out there and compete, but you also have to take a step back and make sure you’re all right physically before you can.”
With his second child due in days, his wife at home in Arizona, and the rest of his season to be determined, Giles has a lot resting on his shoulders -- as well as his elbow. Unsure of how or when it might be resolved, the reliever has some fear about what the future holds.
“My life is my arm right now,” he said. “That’s how I provide for my family, that’s how I make a living, and if I’m in jeopardy of losing that, then it is very scary. And I think that’s why I need to take it slow and take a step back to make sure everything is correct right there.”
Ahead of Sunday’s series finale against the Yankees, the Blue Jays selected right-hander Neil Ramírez to the Major League roster and optioned Jason Adam to Triple-A Buffalo.
Over parts of six seasons in the Majors with the Cubs, Brewers, Twins, Giants, Mets and Indians, Ramírez has posted a 4.41 ERA over 171 1/3 innings, with 205 strikeouts. After starting the season in Cleveland’s organization, the 30-year-old reliever threw one inning at Class A Advanced Dunedin this season and one at Triple-A Buffalo -- both scoreless -- before joining the Blue Jays.