OAKLAND, Calif. – Devon Travis’s surgically repaired right knee felt so good in recent days that the Toronto Blue Jays second baseman didn’t need to ice it after games. There was no pain to play through, no inflammation or irritation to manage, no signs of wear and tear. All was good, and when he boarded the team flight to Oakland on Sunday evening, it was the throbbing in his left hand caused by a 96 mph Luis Severino fastball that was a cause concern, not anything else.
By time the plane touched down on the West Coast, however, and he tried to get up from his seat, that suddenly changed. His right knee locked up. It hurt when he tried to bend it. He didn’t say anything to anyone and went to bed, hoping the joint would loosen up on its own without issue.
Instead, he became the 15th player and 19th disabled list stint for the Blue Jays this season, with reliever Dominic Leone recalled from triple-A Buffalo to fill the roster spot. The extent of a bone bruise and cartilage damage in Travis’s right knee will be determined in the coming days by the same specialist who operated on him during the off-season.
He can’t pinpoint a moment when the injury might have happened.
“It doesn’t seem real,” Travis said Tuesday, wiping tears from his eyes repeatedly during a conversation with media. “I don’t really get it but I know there’s no time to feel sorry for myself. I have to do all I can to get back on the field.”
There’s no timeline for that at this point, but manager John Gibbons acknowledged the absence won’t be a short one, even as Travis hopes for a quick turnaround.
The 26-year-old said it was “intriguing” that his new bone bruise is smaller than the one he suffered in Game 1 of the ALCS last fall, when he hobbled off the field after experiencing a sharp pain the knee. But worth remembering is that it wasn’t certain he’d break camp with the Blue Jays, and there are no shortcuts in the recovery from a bone bruise.
Travis learned that first-hand working his way back from the last one.
“That’s where it hurts the most,” he said. “You just think about everything you did in the off-season and obviously coming off an injury last year and the year before as well, it’s tough. It’s probably my emotions running out of me right now, all those hard days of work, two-a-days, getting to Florida on the third day of January, just doing all I could to get back on the field because I wanted to be there for the team.
“Now I’m in a little bit of the same spot again, it just doesn’t make much sense to me,” he continued. “I don’t have time to feel bad for myself, though, this is my career, this is what I love to do and this is what I signed up for. I know all this comes along with it. I’ll get through it.”
The Blue Jays also must get through it, and Gibbons said they’ll run a platoon of Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney with the occasional outing for Chris Coghlan to cover the absence. Still, Travis might have been their best player during a May resurgence and the lineup is lighter without him.
Leone was recalled over another position player because the Blue Jays felt they’d get more use out of the extra arm, Gibbons said. The bullpen has logged a heavy workload of late and the right-hander posted a 4.01 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 24.2 innings over 22 games earlier this season.
Travis, meanwhile, is off for another rehab, after having his 2015 season truncated by shoulder issues and last year cut short by his knee troubles.
Last time the bone bruise was on the outside of his right knee. Now, it’s the inside.
“There are some similarities, for sure,” Travis said. “The bone bruise, I hate that word. It sounds so simple, it hurts so bad. There are similarities, for sure. It’s in a different part of my knee this time, that’s the difference in feeling. But when it comes to pain, and how I feel when I move my leg, very similar.”
So too is the personal resolve that will be needed.
“I always fight back,” he said, “and I’ll never stop fighting.”