Blue Jays’ GM Atkins travelling to Houston to meet with Sanchez

Toronto Blue Jays' starting pitcher Aaron Sanchez delivers a pitch. (Phil Long/AP)

HOUSTON – Toronto Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins is travelling to Houston to meet with Aaron Sanchez about the club’s plan to transition him to the bullpen.

Team president and CEO Mark Shapiro made the revelation during an interview with MLB Network Radio on Thursday morning, reiterating that the all-star right-hander won’t finish the season in the rotation.

The meeting, which will also include manager John Gibbons and pitching coach Pete Walker, seems aimed at finalizing the plans while having the courtesy to give Sanchez a seat at the table when deciding his future. That’s important.

“I think what we want to do is be respectful and continue to involve everyone in the decision,” Shaprio told MLB Network Radio. “When you’re in the dugout, the emotions of the day-to-day competing, it’s not confusing but impacts everything you feel. How do you not let your teammates down? How do you deal with the emotion that’s projected on you from fans on a day-to-day basis? I did make one absolute statement, this guy is not going to pitch 220 innings this year, he’s not going to pitch 230 innings. If you project out what it would take to start through October, that would be the impact. That is absolute. The other thing I’d say is there is no safe way to shut him down and them ramp him up again.

“So if you take that out, it’s simply do you let him start to a point where he either fatigues and mandates being shut down or he reaches some arbitrary inning amount like 190, 195, whatever it is, that would be the most in probably history in your career spike and then say that’s it. Or do you say do we reallocate those innings in the bullpen and let him contribute to this team in high leverage situations. That’s got to be a decision Aaron feels good about, it’s got to be one where we engage and involve him in the process.”

Sanchez established a new career-high in innings pitched Sunday when he threw seven innings of two-run ball against the Baltimore Orioles, pushing his season total to 139.1. He threw 133.1 innings in 2014 and 109.1 last year.

While the science isn’t definitive, the Blue Jays appear to be betting on a lower workload helping to keep Sanchez healthy.

“Look at (Stephen) Strasburg, look at Matt Harvey, this is not the first instance and they’re all confusing, they’re all challenging, I’d love to present complete clarity to you and as much as I feel like the better answers are clear, I still would say we’re not going to end up with an absolutely perfect answer,” said Shapiro. “It’s an imperfect question.”

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