A stiff back has delayed the right-hander’s spring debut, but he called the mound session a step in right direction.
“I’ll be ready for sure,” he said. “I don’t want to miss any starts. I think I’ll be ready. I don’t know where my pitch count’s going to be. The first two or three times out I might not be at 100 yet, but if I can just get out there and give the guys some innings, that’s all I really care about and I think I’ll be there.”
Pitching coach Pete Walker watched closely as Estrada mixed in all his pitches against prospects Rowdy Tellez and Richard Urena at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium. Assuming Estrada feels healthy Sunday, he’ll rest for two days before pitching again Tuesday, either in a big league game or a minor league game.
Though he felt so-so Saturday morning, Estrada felt much better once he started pitching.
“The more I threw the looser it got,” he said. “I don’t think the back’s going to be an issue anymore. It’s now just getting the feel for every pitch.”
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While Estrada may have to deal with stiffness for a day or two after he pitches, he sounds more concerned about building up his pitch count and getting a feel for some secondary pitches. Typically his curveball is the last pitch to come around.
The Blue Jays’ spring schedule will allow Estrada to make up to four Grapefruit League starts, though any additional setbacks could require a disabled list stint early in the season. That possibility sounds more drastic than it is, given that the Blue Jays have two early-season off days. Still, it’s one the team expects to avoid.
“If everything progresses accordingly, he feels good, his arm feels great right now, so as long as he feels no ill effects from throwing, he’ll be out there,” Walker said this week.