TORONTO – Aaron Sanchez threw all of his pitches and felt no discomfort in his troublesome right middle finger Friday in his first time back up on a mound since his blister issues resurfaced May 19.
The 25-pitch session came after nearly two weeks of long-tossing ended a shutdown period that followed the May 19 outing against the Baltimore Orioles. In the midst of his third stint on the disabled list this season, he descried the bullpen as “very encouraging for me, one of the better sides I’ve thrown all year in terms of my movement and action.”
“I got on it as much as I could. Obviously it’s the first one so I don’t want to take steps back, but I pushed the envelope enough to feel that I’m getting what I need out of it and feeling that it will hold up and be healthy if I were to crank it up a few more notches,” he said. “After today, I’m much happier and in better spirits than I was before.”
Sanchez was able to throw both his sinker and his curveball off his finger with full extension, which he couldn’t do earlier this year as he tried to guard the finger from his blister troubles. The shutdown period allowed the area around his fingernail to recover after a procedure to remove a third of the nail earlier this season didn’t resolve his issues.
“The best part is I didn’t have to constantly look down at my finger to see if something was wrong. Before, any time I felt something I was looking straight down. I never had that problem today when I felt like I had to look down,” said Sanchez. “I threw everything – fastball, curveball, change-up – from the stretch, finished off, no issues. Hopefully everything progresses well from here.”
The next step is for Sanchez to throw another bullpen, likely Sunday or Monday, with a live batting practice session to follow, perhaps next Thursday. Barring a setback, he’ll head out on rehab assignment after that.
PEARCE OFF, COGHLAN ON: The Blue Jays placed Chris Coghlan on the disabled list with a left wrist contusion to make room for Steve Pearce, who was activated from the 10-day DL. The move means outfielder Dwight Smith Jr., who impressed with three hits and a stolen base in his first career start Wednesday, stays on the roster.
Keeping Smith makes some sense as he’s the only player they have in the big-leagues with substantial left field experience in the absence of Ezequiel Carrera, who suffered a fracture of the second cuneiform bone in his right foot earlier this week. Though still in pain, he’s resumed walking.
Pearce returns from a right calf strain that has sidelined him since May 14, when he left a 3-2 win over Seattle with the injury. In 27 games with the Blue Jays, he’s slashed .205/.256/.373 with four homers and 10 RBIs but just five walks against 24 strikeouts in 90 plate appearances.
“It’s good to see him,” said manager John Gibbons. “We signed him to be a big part of this team. We need his bat.”
In six rehab games with double-A New Hampshire and triple-A Buffalo, he went 2-for-22 with a walk and five strikeouts. Pearce is expected to get the bulk of outfield reps but Smith could certainly work himself into some playing time.
Gibbons said Coghlan’s wrist has bothered him since he was hit by a pitch May 11 versus Seattle, but had managed to play through it.
The Blue Jays have been running an eight-man bullpen since Devon Travis was placed on the disabled list last week and left-hander Jeff Beliveau’s contract was selected.
SHORT HOPS: Outfielder Dalton Pompey’s rehab assignment at triple-A Buffalo has been shut down due to a left knee strain and he’ll need to work his way back to baseball activities. The Blue Jays don’t expect him to be out long term. … Catching prospect Max Pentecost has missed nearly a week at single-A Dunedin with a lower back strain. The Blue Jays are being cautious with him and he won’t participate in the Florida State League all-star game. … Outfielder Darrell Ceciliani, who suffered partial subluxation in his left shoulder while hitting a home run May 18 in Atlanta, is making progress with his rehab in Dunedin but there is no timeline for his return. … Left-hander J.P. Howell is rehabbing his shoulder injury in Buffalo, working to strengthen the area and improve his range of motion.