"I was at home hanging out on the couch, playing some video games with my roommate, and I got the call from my manager and he just said, 'Congratulations, you're going to the big leagues,'" Pannone said. "From that moment there, my heart started racing. A million thoughts running through my head."
The Blue Jays acquired Pannone from the Indians in a deal for reliever Joe Smith at last year's non-waiver Trade Deadline. He registered a dominant 2017 campaign, posting a 2.36 ERA in 25 Minor League starts but was dealt an 80-game suspension prior to '18 after failing a test for performance-enhancing drugs.
"The suspension was tough," Pannone said. "Those 80 days in Florida, I'm not going to ever say that was easy, but I had great support around me. ... I didn't want a day to go by where I was not working on something that I could continuously get better every single day so that I could have an opportunity like this."
This year has been more of a struggle for Pannone, who has posted a 5.36 ERA in nine Minor League starts. Most of that damage, however, came in his season opener, when he allowed seven runs over 4 2/3 innings.
Pannone most recently pitched in the second game of a doubleheader for the Bisons last Saturday, giving up four runs (three earned) in 4 2/3 innings while striking out seven.
"I'm sneaking my fastball by some guys," Pannone said. "Using my curveball, changeup as well. All three pitches I've been mixing pretty well. Getting ahead of guys. I think that's what has been working the most. Getting ahead of a lot of guys and keeping them honest with my offspeed pitches."
The Blue Jays plan to use Pannone out of the bullpen over the next few games, although he could make a start as the team's fifth starter when the Blue Jays head to Kansas City for the first of four games on Monday.
"Right now, he'll be coming out of the 'pen," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "If something happens [and] we need some guy who can throw some innings, he'll be perfect for that, and down the road we'll see."
Pannone is a candidate to make that start if the Blue Jays don't need him to log significant innings before then, according to Gibbons.
Right-hander Sean Reid-Foley could also get the start. He has a 2.98 ERA in 23 Minor League starts between Double-A New Hampshire and Buffalo this year, although the organization has been hesitant to call him up so far this season.
"He's having a good year," Gibbons said. "He's a lot like Ryan Borucki, part of the future. We talked about using him, too. … But we don't have anybody definite yet."