Shoemaker (torn ACL) to miss rest of season

April 22nd, 2019

OAKLAND -- The silence in the visitors’ clubhouse at the Oakland Coliseum captured the Blue Jays’ mood.

This was not a time to play the usual victory mix on the clubhouse stereo, despite Toronto’s 5-4 triumph that sealed a three-game sweep of the Oakland A’s.

The Blue Jays knew that Matt Shoemaker, who already has weathered considerable adversity in his big league career, would miss the rest of the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee. Hence the hushed tones, typically reserved for a losing effort, that the Blue Jays maintained.

None of them wanted to consider the reality that Shoemaker, who injured himself during Saturday’s game at Oakland while participating in a fourth-inning rundown play, will not pitch again this year. The right-hander had excelled so far, posting a 3-0 record with a 1.57 ERA in five starts.

Shoemaker, 32, had his previous two seasons derailed by strained muscles in his throwing arm. In Sept. 2016, he was struck by a 105-mph line drive off the bat of Seattle’s Kyle Seager that fractured his skull. Through it all, he has always persevered. Now he must climb that figurative mountain again.

“You can’t put words to it,” Shoemaker said, as he fought tears. “[I’m] extremely frustrated, but at the same time I just have to stay positive. I know I’m really upset right now, I just got the news. But stay positive, keep fighting, get this thing right and be back when it’s ready to go.

"The biggest thing is that it’s frustrating. I can deal with this stuff. I know I seem pretty upset right now, which I am. But I’ve had bumps in the road before and I’m just going to fight through it. That’s just who I am. It’s just really upsetting right now.”

The somber clubhouse confirmed Shoemaker’s remark.

“He was one of the best pitchers in baseball in the first month,” Toronto manager Charlie Montoyo said. “I feel bad for all of us, but of course for him, because he was doing so great.”

Right-hander Aaron Sanchez said bravely, “It’s next man up. We’ll see who’s ready to come up and take that role. Those will be some big shoes to fill, of course.”

Shoemaker sensed that bad news awaited him as prepared to undergo an MRI on Sunday morning that would confirm the extent of his injury.

“I was really hoping for a knee sprain,” he said. But, he added, “I knew what I felt. It didn’t feel right.”

A reporter asked Shoemaker how he has avoided torturing himself with the inevitable question, “Why me?” His response reflected his unfortunate familiarity with bad luck.

“As a human, we want to drift that way,” Shoemaker said. “You just have to stop it. Whenever I get those thoughts, I just tell myself, ‘Stop,’ and go to the positive route. I know it’s crazy -- and happy Easter to everyone -- but God has a plan, man. He does. And I truly believe that. It’s just really rough right now.”

After Shoemaker was placed on the 10-day injured list on Sunday morning, Toronto recalled infielder Richard Urena from Triple-A Buffalo in his place. Urena rejoined the Blue Jays after making the Opening Day roster. He appeared in eight games, batting .333 (8-for-24) with three doubles, before he was sent down on April 13 to make room for Clay Buchholz. He entered Sunday's game as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning.