OAKLAND – Matt Shoemaker knew his knee didn’t feel right, but as he awaited the results of an MRI Sunday morning he still hoped that he had only suffered a sprain.
Unfortunately for Shoemaker, the injury he sustained in a rundown Saturday was more serious. He’ll miss the rest of the 2019 season after tearing the ACL in his left knee.
Soon after learning the news Sunday, Shoemaker fought back tears while attempting to keep his injury in perspective.
"You can’t put words to it," he said. "Extremely frustrated, but at the same time you’ve got to stay positive. I know I’m really upset right now and just got the news, but stay positive. Keep fighting. Get this thing right and be back when it’s ready to go."
Shoemaker’s already experienced his share of injuries as a major-leaguer. He had emergency brain surgery in 2016 after being hit in the head by a line drive and missed much of 2018 with a forearm injury.
The Blue Jays signed him to a one-year, $3.5 million deal over the winter and he responded by posting a 1.57 ERA in his first 28.2 innings of work. Now, a year of rehab awaits the 32-year-old.
"The biggest thing is it’s frustrating," he said. "I can deal with this stuff. I know I seem pretty upset right now, which I am, but I’ve had bumps in the road before and I’m just going to fight through it. That’s just who I am. It’s just really upsetting right now."
With Shoemaker sidelined, the Blue Jays will need reinforcements for their starting rotation. Sam Gaviglio, Thomas Pannone, Sean Reid-Foley and Jacob Waguespack are among those who could be called on to replace Shoemaker.
"He was one of the best pitchers in baseball over the first month," manager Charlie Montoyo said. "It’s a tough loss for us.”
The Blue Jays will solicit opinions from specialists before determining a potential surgery date. In the meantime, Shoemaker will work to stay positive and avoid wondering ‘why me.’
"As a human we want to drift that way," he said, pausing to wish TV viewers a happy Easter. "You’ve just got to stop it. Whenever you get those thoughts I just tell myself ‘hey, stop.’ And I go the positive route."
Even though Shoemaker signed just a one-year deal, the Blue Jays control his rights in arbitration through 2020. Barring a non-tender he’ll be a candidate to pitch in the 2020 rotation, but a long rehab process awaits him over the coming months.
"It’s just really rough right now.”