ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Devon Travis knows extended spring training stats don’t count for all that much, but that’s not the point. The recovering second baseman hit two line drives and drew a walk against live pitching Friday. More importantly, he did so pain-free.
Travis, who’s recovering from left shoulder surgery he underwent in November, hadn’t hit in a game environment since last year. After months of pain and rehab, it felt like going 5-for-5.
“It was like opening day for me today,” Travis said at Tropicana Field, where he joined the Blue Jays after his workout. “First day on the field hitting live pitching, so it was awesome.”
It’s been a grind for Travis, who posted an .859 OPS with eight home runs in 2015, his rookie season. He hit the disabled list with left shoulder inflammation twice last year, first from May 17 to June 26 and again from July 31 through the end of the season. Exploratory surgery followed in September, and just two months later Dr. David Altchek inserted screws in his shoulder to stabilize an extra bone.
There were times that Travis couldn’t lift his left arm over his shoulder or reach for a glass to get a drink of water. Now his range of motion and strength are returning.
“I feel great. I feel really good. I feel strong. I feel strong when I’m playing,” he said. “After it gets a little tired, but that’s like anything else.”
There’s still no clear timeline for Travis’ return, but the Blue Jays say there’s reason for optimism after months of frustration.
“He’s very excited and he’s doing great,” Blue Jays trainer George Poulis said Wednesday. “We’re going day by day, step by step.”
The next logical step for Travis would be hitting and playing defence in the same game. The 25-year-old has been taking grounders and doing as much conditioning as possible, creating the possibility that he could play full games at extended spring training before long.
“I don’t even know exactly what I’m doing next week, but I can’t wait to get back,” he said. “I can’t wait to get back to the field playing every day.”
While there are still many steps separating Travis from the Blue Jays’ big-league roster, the one he took Friday was undoubtedly significant.