ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Long an accomplished big-league pitcher, Darren Oliver entered into new territory Friday when his first foray into the movie industry hit the big screen.
The Toronto Blue Jays reliever is an investor in “Jobs,” a biopic about late Apple founder Steve Jobs starring Ashton Kutcher, and he appears in the film credits. Producer Mark Hulme, a friend with whom he’s made previous investments, pitched Oliver the idea in the spring of 2011, during his first camp with the Jays.
“I was like, ‘I’m in dude,’” Oliver recalled Friday. “We’d invested in some stuff before and it worked out well. The guy’s got the Midas touch man.
“Mark is smart, he’s 100 per cent, I always say if he’s willing to invest as much as you or more, that’s my kind of investment. Not sweat equity, but greenback equity, because if something doesn’t happen, he’s got as much to lose as me. Usually when that happens, they make sure it works.”
Oliver didn’t get to enjoy many of the perks of being an investor, as the film was shot during the season so he couldn’t visit the set, and he missed the premiere in Los Angeles this week while the Blue Jays were hosting the Boston Red Sox.
He had hoped to make a cameo in the film, but the timing never worked out.
“I could have been in the background shuffling papers or something,” Oliver lamented with a grin.
Buying into projects isn’t anything new for Oliver, although the movie industry is a bit more exciting than some of the property deals he’s invested in previously. He has yet to see “Jobs,” which has received mixed reviews, but plans to buy a ticket to it Monday during an off-day in New York.
“This one I’m watching for multiple reasons,” he said. “You want it to do well, you’re reading the reviews on the internet, you get mad when somebody says something bad about it, kind of like when you’re pitching and you get a bad review about yourself, it’s like that. You take it personal.
“I’m not really worried about the critics. We’ll see how the opening weekend goes, that’s what I’m really worried about.”
DELABAR PLAYS CATCH: All-star reliever Steve Delabar, on the disabled list since Aug. 3 with a shoulder strain, played catch for the first time Friday and will continue to progress slowly from there.
Delabar said he began experiencing the discomfort where his shoulder meets the biceps in mid-July, and when he pitched in the all-star game, “it wasn’t feeling amazing.”
“For me, I was competing and getting guys out, so on my side, it was how am I going to say I’m not feeling good if things were working?” he added. “I was still getting most of the guys out and competing and being able to get myself ready so I was able to work through the soreness I had. But it continued with the work we were getting and the progression we were having, we couldn’t get it out of there.”
As time wore on, Delabar had more and more trouble getting loose, suggesting to him the problem was more than the usual soreness. He mentioned the problem to trainer George Poulis after he gave up three runs in an inning Aug. 2 at Anaheim and he was placed on the DL afterwards.
There’s no timeline for his return.
ROTATION SET: Esmil Rogers will pitch in the first game while Mark Buehrle handles the nightcap Tuesday when the Blue Jays play a doubleheader in New York against the Yankees.
R.A. Dickey and J.A. Happ will start the games that follow in that series, with Todd Redmond slated to pitch in the opener Friday in Houston.
The Blue Jays will need a starter for Saturday, with Rogers slated to pitch Sunday.
Prospects Marcus Stroman and Sean Nolin have been discussed for the Saturday game, and one idea may be to call that pitcher up for the doubleheader, when teams are allowed to add a 26th player, to allow for some acclimatization to the majors, and then come back up to start Saturday.
SPAWN OF KAWA: Munenori Kawasaki left the Blue Jays on Friday a paternity leave, and manager John Gibbons chuckled at the thought of how the infielder’s toddler might behave.
“Oh man, kid will be happy, I guarantee that,” Gibbons said with a grin. “I met his wife in New York earlier in the year, she seemed bubbly too.”
HAPPY FOR HAPP: J.A. Happ, activated from the bereavement list Friday, is scheduled to start Saturday against the Rays for the first time since being struck in the head by a Desmond Jennings line drive May 7.
It will be his third start since coming off the disabled list, and comes two days after Rays starter Alex Cobb returned to the mound after a similar incident.
“It’s good for him, it’s just like Cobber (Thursday), you’ve got to exorcise those demons, you’ve got to get back out there, you’ve got to start riding the horse again,” said Rays manager Joe Maddon. “It’s horrible, I wish him well, it’s something he has to do for himself and it’s tough.”