TORONTO — Toronto Blue Jays opening day starter Alek Manoah has received multiple injections to his right pitching arm in recent weeks following extensive visits with medical professionals, industry sources told Sportsnet.
The shots were intended to reduce inflammation and discomfort for Manoah, whose 2023 season is now officially over.
While team doctors have found no structural issues — muscle damage or ligament tears, for instance — the 25-year-old has continued meeting with additional specialists in the last month. Those visits with doctors continue with a view toward ruling out elbow and shoulder issues as well as Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, the sources said.
With less than a week remaining in the triple-A season and tests still ongoing, Manoah has been shut down from throwing. As such, a season that began with promise ends with uncertainty about what’s next.
“At the current time, he feels like he’s not ready to compete, so we’re going to respect that and kind of move on from it,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said last week. “But we’ve been working through every decision with him together as a group and respecting his requests along the way.”
In 2022, the right-hander finished third in American League Cy Young voting, with a 2.24 ERA in 196.2 innings during his first full season. But early-season struggles in 2023 led to a demotion to the Florida Complex League on June 6.
After a month of work behind the scenes, Manoah returned to the big leagues on July 7. He made six more starts, the last of which came on Aug. 10, when he allowed four runs on four hits in four innings to the Cleveland Guardians while striking out six and walking three. The next day, the Blue Jays optioned him to triple-A Buffalo in the hopes that he could provide rotation depth for the stretch run.
Manoah didn’t report to triple-A right away as he was about to undergo medical testing in Toronto to determine whether he was dealing with physical wear and tear or something more serious. He would later report to triple-A, but was placed on the temporarily inactive list to free up a roster spot in Buffalo.
More testing followed last week, by which point it had become apparent that Manoah would not pitch again in 2023.
Along the way, the Blue Jays kept the door open to a return for Manoah in 2023 with team decision-makers expressing hope that he would return to action by season’s end. Now, best case scenario would be a healthy return in spring of 2024, when Manoah could compete for a rotation spot.