BALTIMORE – Maybe it was pure coincidence, or maybe it was a subconscious sense that the waiver wire kings were on his trail, but Aaron Laffey was hanging out at home in a Toronto Blue Jays undershirt ahead of a catch session when he learned he was rejoining his old team.
“I was on the phone, and when the Mets told me it was the Blue Jays I just pointed to my shirt to my wife,” the 28-year-old left-hander recalled Wednesday after joining the club for the series finale against the Baltimore Orioles. “It was just funny, I’ve been with a couple of different teams now so I knew the possibility of getting picked up was pretty likely, not that the beginning of the season would be the determining factor on whether a team would claim me or not.”
“I just went through the process, let it do what it is, and just hope for the best. It’s nice to come back to a place you’re familiar and the guys know you, you know all of the guys in the clubhouse and a lot of familiar faces. A comfortable environment to come into.”
Laffey appeared in 22 games for the Blue Jays last year, 16 of them starts, going 4-6 with a 4.56 ERA. He’s an upgrade at long man over Ramon Ortiz, who was designated for assignment, and will be used in a similar role.
“We’ll use him where needed,” said manager John Gibbons. “He did a nice job for these guys last year, so he’ll be long, middle, whatever we need. … He’s definitely a guy who can eat some innings, he can get some big outs, too, probably.”
Laffey pitched in four games this season for the Mets, two starts, posting a 7.20 ERA before he was designated for assignment. That led him to become the Blue Jays’ fourth waiver claim this month, and 20th since last October.
Since 2010, Laffey has pitched for the Indians, Mariners, Yankees, Blue Jays, Mets and now Blue Jays again an odyssey that left him prepared for the last week. He was at his Maryland home and drove 2½ hours to Baltimore on Tuesday evening to rejoin the Blue Jays.
“I’ve learned to just not expect anything and just go with the flow,” said Laffey. “I’ve had kind of a crazy course in my career over the last couple of years especially. Everything is a possibility. Just kind of roll with how everything goes, just go with the flow and wherever I go is where I end up and just kind of take it that way.”
CECIL KEEPS SHUTTING: Brett Cecil lowered his ERA to 1.59 with 1.1 shutout innings in Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles, cementing his status as the Blue Jays’ most pleasant surprise so far this season.
“The one guy that really jumps out at you is Cecil,” said manager John Gibbons. “From being not even guaranteed a spot in spring training to being the long guy, that was basically his role. I don’t know anybody else that jumps out at me.”
Cecil has become an integral part of the bullpen, appearing in 10 games while logging 11.1 innings. He’s got a WHIP of 0.971 to complement his 11.1 strikeouts per nine.
“The real focus was getting his velocity back and he was showing signs of doing that, but you’ve still got to be a pitcher,” Gibbons said when asked for a turning point. “It was the middle of spring training, he came in and he started throwing his breaking ball, his changeup, and everything came together after that. Early on, I don’t know if he was trying to show us his fastball or establish that thing, the velocity but he wasn’t throwing a lot of strikes with it. Then when he started doing that he basically turned into a pitcher.”
LAWRIE’S WAY: Still searching for a leadoff man to bridge the gap to Jose Reyes’ return, the Blue Jays have kicked around the idea of moving Brett Lawrie up but not at the moment.
The third baseman has yet to find his timing at the plate since being activated from the disabled list, carrying a .138 batting average (4-for-29) heading into Wednesday’s contest.
“His personality is just go, go, go,” said manager John Gibbons. “It’s almost tougher on a guy like that than the other guys. He’s got one speed. That works to his advantage but there are times when that works to his disadvantage, he expects so much of himself. Let’s be fair to the guy, we brought him back earlier than we wanted to and that’s not easy on anybody.”