Pearson was able to play long toss with “good intensity," according to the club, and he will travel on Friday to rejoin the Buffalo Bisons, who are currently playing out of Trenton, N.J., as their temporary home. He won’t return to the rotation, though, until he throws a bullpen session and comes out of that feeling healthy.
Charlie Montoyo said Friday that Pearson was still with the Blue Jays after he was optioned earlier this week. Pearson has been working with pitching coach Pete Walker, and the plan was to send him back to Triple-A prior to his next scheduled start, which would have been this weekend.
This is yet another setback for Pearson, who entered the season ranked by MLB Pipeline as the No. 10 prospect in baseball. Many of his injuries have either been fluke occurrences or unrelated to one another, but regardless of how they happen, they’ve slowed his path to the big leagues.
Pearson missed nearly the entire 2018 season with a fractured right forearm after being hit by a comeback liner, but built back up in 2019 and established himself as one of the best young arms in the game. After a tough MLB debut in 2020, though, Pearson hit the injured list for just over a month with right elbow tightness. This spring, it was a right adductor strain that landed the big right-hander on the IL through late March and nearly all of April, before he was recently activated.
In Pearson’s lone Major League start this season, he simply wasn’t himself. Pearson allowed three runs and walked five batters over 2 1/3 innings, recording zero strikeouts. His control was off and, at times, completely lost, so the Blue Jays sent him back to Triple-A earlier this week to get his release point back.
“The one thing about somebody who has good stuff, is that sometimes you've got to be patient,” said manager Charlie Montoyo at the time. “He’ll get it. The sky’s the limit with this kid, and again … it’s going to take time.”
From here, the Blue Jays will evaluate Pearson’s throwing program day to day, monitoring what he's feeling in his shoulder. A groin injury like Pearson’s this spring is one thing, but there will always be an added level of caution when a young pitcher is dealing with any issue in the elbow or shoulder, however minor it may be.
Now 24, Pearson is still fully expected to be part of this Major League rotation at some point in 2021, and as the club’s top prospect, he represents the upside that the Blue Jays need. Hyun Jin Ryu has been the rock at the front of this rotation, while Steven Matz and Robbie Ray have both enjoyed a hot streak, but beyond that, Toronto would love to see a young arm grab a job and run with it.
The club is waiting on that to be Pearson, but once again, he’ll need to work his way back to 100% before his performance on the mound can drive that conversation.