TORONTO – Having three starting pitchers on the disabled list is only one part of the challenge facing the Blue Jays rotation.
The other is getting by with veteran everyday catcher Russell Martin residing in the same injury ward. Enter call- up Luke Maile, who is doing a solid job behind the plate in Martin’s absence.
“He’s good back there. It’s nice pitching to him,” said Jays starter Marco Estrada, who got the win in Thursday’s 7-2 drubbing of the Mariners. “Luke called a tremendous game. I haven’t felt like he’s shaking (off pitches) at all. I like the sequences he’s putting up.”
Maile, who was acquired on waivers on April 6 and recalled on April 28 when the team parted ways with Jarrod Saltalamacchia, is determined to soak up as much as he can.“You always want to earn your way to the big leagues, you don’t want to be just kind of handed it,” said Maile, who has yet to bring any benefit at the plate, hitting just .048 prior to Friday’s game against the Mariners. “But sometimes it works out that way and that’s how people get their breaks.”
Even though Martin has been on the DL, he’s remained around the team and has been a huge resource for Maile and fellow catcher, Mike Ohlman.
“Too many things to name,” Maile said when asked what Martin has taught him in his two weeks with the big team. “He’s one of the better teammates I’ve ever been around. Just watching him and the way he always looks in control. He has that confidence and aura about him, but I’ve also been impressed with the way he communicates with guys.
“He’s thorough. He’s well prepared. I’ve learned a lot from him.”
REST FOR LIRIANO
Given the diminished velocity and lack of precision Francisco Liriano showed in his recent starts, it wasn’t a shock there was something off.
What is mildly surprising, however, was that the big left-hander admitted he was feeling something in his shoulder for a couple of weeks, yet he tried to fight through it.
“It was bothering me for the last three starts so we decided to try to find a way to make it feel better,” Liriano said. “It made it hard to go out there without (feeling comfortable.)
“I couldn’t even throw the fastball where I wanted to. It bothered me a lot.”
Liriano said the shoulder pain first became an issues for him in a start on April 24 in Anaheim when he went 5.1 innings, allowing just five hits and two runs. The Jays placed him on the disabled list on Thursday after he struggled in his most recent start the previous night.
“I would say (the 10-day DL should be enough,)” said Liriano, whose had similar problems in the past. “We’ll see how I feel in the next couple of days and go from there.
“You want to feel good when you go out there and compete.”
With Liriano and J.A. Happ still out, manager John Gibbons’ makeshift rotation included reliever Joe Biagini getting the second start of his career on Friday with Mike Bolsinger set to face the Atlanta Braves on Monday. Marcus Stroman will get the ball on Saturday while Aaron Sanchez is scheduled to make his return from the DL on Sunday.
Short stop Troy Tulowitzki is off to Florida to play in a minor-league game in Dunedin on Sunday and again on Monday with a possibility of returning to the Jays lineup next Wednesday in Atlanta … Josh Donaldson is expected to take longer to return, though Gibbons noted on Friday that the third baseman “feels good.” Donaldson, who is in Florida recuperating from his calf injury has been out a month. “We miss him, there’s no doubt about that,” Gibbons said … Designated hitter Kendrys Morales was out running under the watchful eye of Jays athletic therapists prior to batting practice and Gibbons acknowledged there’s a chance he can return from his mild hamstring injury as soon as Saturday.