BOSTON — Ken Giles took a significant step forward Tuesday, throwing 20 pitches off a mound with no apparent issues.
Giles looked and felt like his usual self during a bullpen session at Fenway Park Tuesday afternoon under the supervision of Toronto Blue Jays pitching coach Pete Walker.
“He felt great,” Walker said. “We were pleased with it.”
Manager Charlie Montoyo told Sportsnet’s Hazel Mae that Giles will be available Wednesday, but won’t pitch Tuesday night. Given that the right-hander threw a bullpen earlier in the day, the caution here makes sense. If needed, Daniel Hudson would close for the Blue Jays in Giles’ absence.
Giles, a top trade chip, hasn’t pitched since July 4 because of nerve inflammation caused by a massage. Last month he spent time on the injured list due to right elbow inflammation. Under those circumstances, interested suitors will surely want to see Giles pitch before completing a deal.
At this point, the Blue Jays would presumably have a hard time getting full value for Giles, yet with two weeks remaining before the July 31 deadline, there’s enough time for that to change.
The Twins have been publicly linked to Giles, but virtually any contender this side of the Astros would benefit from his arm if healthy (the Astros traded Giles to Toronto last summer and manager A.J. Hinch has since publicly challenged Giles’ assertion that there was a lack of communication in Houston — safe to say he’s not going back any time soon).
In 31 innings this year, Giles has 53 strikeouts compared to nine walks for a 1.45 ERA and a 43.4-per cent strikeout rate that leads all AL. Plus, he’s controllable through 2020, meaning he could contribute to two pennant races for a contending team.
First things first, though. He has to return to action and show everyone involved that he’s healthy.