TORONTO – Since returning from the disabled list last week, Jose Reyes has shown no signs of the sprained left ankle that cost him 66 games during his at-bats, while moving side to side in the field, and burning his way up the line.
Only when it comes to turning on the basepaths has the Toronto Blue Jays shortstop looked tentative.
“That’s the part that I don’t have my confidence, before I touch the base,” Reyes said in an interview Wednesday. “The more I do it the more comfortable I’m going to feel. The hardest part is when I turn. It’s more I’m careful on it, rather than pain or I’m sore or stuff like that.
“That’s going to take a little while. I’m able to do it, I don’t care if I’m careful, I’m still fast.”
In the first seven games since his June 26 activation, Reyes has shown that in scoring six times and pressuring opposing infielders on every groundball, no matter how routine. Still, he had yet to attempt a steal heading into Wednesday’s contest with the Detroit Tigers and his two extra-base hits were both home runs.
“When you get hurt, the first couple of weeks when you come back, you’re going to be a little bit afraid and have to get comfortable with it in the game,” said Reyes. “The injury I had, it wasn’t an easy injury, it wasn’t a pulled hamstring, I almost broke my ankle.
“I think that’s going to get better, the more that I run the bases, the more comfortable I’m going to feel. It’s just been two or three weeks I’m playing, I need some time to get my confidence back on the basepaths. Running straight is fine, when I need to do that little turn there, that’s the problem.”
Reyes is using a brace to stabilize his left ankle, which he also sprained back in 2003 while playing for the New York Mets, and is finding it helpful.
“I like it better than the tape,” he said. “I taped my ankle since the injury I had in New York but the doctor said the brace is going to be better for me. I can make it as tight as I want. I control that, so that’s good.”
INTERNATIONAL SPENDING: The 14 international free agents signed by the Blue Jays on Tuesday maxed out their spending pool of just over US$2.8 million.
The prime prospect signed is 16-year-old Yeltsin Gudino, a shortstop out of Carlos Guillen’s academy in Venezuela who received a bonus said to be around $1.2 million. The Blue Jays feel Gudino has the tools and physical build to play short at a high level long-term.
Also signed out of Guillen’s academy was outfielder Freddy Rodriguez, while shortstops Jesus Ramirez and Miguel Almonte were signed out of the Dominican Republic. Each is believed to have received $200,000-$300,000.
The remaining 10 signings are believed to be in the $1,000-$5,000 range.
CUBAN LINK: Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, assistant GM Tony LaCava and special assistant Latin American operations Ismael Cruz watched Cuban free agent Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez pitch in Tijuana, Mexico on Friday.
While it’s not clear what their impressions of the right-hander were, the Blue Jays have been cautious in similar past instances.
SUNDAY STARTER: Todd Redmond joined the Blue Jays on Wednesday in place of the designated for assignment Chien-Ming Wang, and for now he’s bullpen protection rather than a favourite to fill Sunday’s vacancy in the rotation.
“He could be, but we’ll see how gets used here in these next few days,” said manager John Gibbons. “That will probably dictate that.”
Redmond is in his second stint with the Blue Jays, posting a 5.79 ERA over two games last time. He took the loss in the 17-inning game they played in San Diego, but gutted his way through 3.2 innings the day after throwing another frame in Atlanta.
“He did a nice job for us earlier when he was up,” praised Gibbons.
Blue Jays relievers have logged 25.2 of the club’s last 54 innings heading into Wednesday’s play.