ARLINGTON, Texas — Another Toronto Blue Jay hit the disabled list Monday as reliever Joe Smith was placed on the 10-day DL with right shoulder inflammation. Right-hander Leonel Campos was recalled from triple-A Buffalo to take Smith’s place on the roster.
Smith began experiencing discomfort in an outing last Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Rays when he allowed three hits and three runs in an inning of work. Smith received treatment immediately after the game and the original hope was that he would avoid a stint on the disabled list.
He sat out Toronto’s entire series versus the Chicago White Sox last weekend, receiving daily work from Blue Jays trainers. But progress was slow, and the Jays reached a point Monday where they needed an available arm in their bullpen.
“It keeps getting better. But it hasn’t felt as good as I would like it to,” Smith said. “I understand where we’re at, at this point. We need people who can pitch. That’s how it goes. You can only get so many days off in the bullpen before something has to happen.”
Smith’s DL stint will be backdated to June 16, meaning he’ll be eligible to return to the Blue Jays on June 27 when the team begins a three-game series versus the Baltimore Orioles. Smith, the 19th Blue Jay to hit the disabled list this season, doesn’t anticipate he’ll need much more time than that to get over the injury.
Smith says this is the first time in his career he’s dealt with a shoulder injury and he has no way of knowing if it’s related to his workload or not. Smith has thrown 31.2 innings this season, second only to Ryan Tepera among Blue Jays relievers. His 34 appearances are tops on the Blue Jays and tied for second-most in the American League.
Before the injury, Smith was on pace to throw a career-high 75.1 innings this season, which would have passed the high-water mark of 74.2 he set in 2014 with the Los Angeles Angels. The 33-year-old pitched 52 innings last season, and 65.1 in 2015.
“My whole career, I’ve always been busy, especially when I’m healthy,” Smith said. “But things happen in baseball. It’s just another hurdle I have to get over.”
Over the next several days, Smith will cease throwing while continuing to receive treatment on the shoulder and spending time in the weight room maintaining his lower body strength. He’s confident that, if all goes according to plan, his time on the DL will be brief.
“It has been getting better, but just not at the rate that I would like,” Smith said. “But sometimes things just take a little bit of time to calm down.”
Smith has been one of the Blue Jays most effective relievers, boasting a 2.25 FIP and 13.36 K/9 while pitching mostly high-leverage situations. Ryan Tepera and Danny Barnes will take over Smith’s eighth-inning set-up role going forward.
“They’ve been unbelievable all year, both of them,” Smith said. “I’ve got no doubt either one of those guys and the rest of the bullpen can step up and pitch and continue to get outs in high leverage situations. It stinks I can’t be out there working with the boys. But I know we’ll be alright.”