DUNEDIN, Fla. _ How does the new chorus of that old song go?
“OK (OK) Blue Jays (Blue Jays)”
Let’s (Let’s) Panic (PAN-IC!!!!!)”
Marcus Stroman tore his left ACL and initial diagnosis has the right-hander gone for the season, according to Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos.
Expected to be a key cog in the Jays rotation this season Stroman will seek a second opinion from Dr. James Andrews, but surgery is expected.
The scene: Half field behind the centre field fence, adjacent to the players’ parking lot.
Time: 9:30-9:45 AM.
Drill: Coach Luis Rivera is conducting PFP (pitcher’s fielding practice) like 29 other teams do each day every spring training.
Blue team: R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Drew Hutchison, Brett Cecil, Aaron Loup, Todd Redmond, Aaron Sanchez, Steve Delabar, Chad Jenkins, Marco Estrada, Kyle Drabek, Liam Hendricks, Wilton Lopez, Jeff Francis, Daniel Norris and Stroman are taking turns.
They are fielding batted or rolled balls Rivera who called out the situation (number of outs, where the runners were) before putting the ball in play.
Imaginary ghost runners were on first and second when Rivera rolled a ball to the left of the mound.
Eye Witness accounts:
Josh Donaldson: “We began to converge a little and he tried to stop. The ball was one of those tweeners you get every once in a while.”
Sanchez: “I was almost sick to my stomach. This sucks.”
Russell Martin: “It was one of those in between plays. Donaldson called him off, but Marcus practices at game speed. Marcus tried to stop, his knee locked and they bumped. Josh wound up on top, but it wasn’t the two of them hitting that hurt his knee. Marcus was wearing plastic cleats, not metal, so his spikes didn’t catch in the turf.”
Norris: “I had gone ahead of him and was in line talking with Buehrle. I didn’t want to believe it, I hoped maybe it wasn’t bad.”
Hutchison: “I went right before him … ground ball off the bag at first and I covered first. I was behind the catchers when I saw it and knew it wasn’t good.”
Josh Thole: “I was talking and was blocked out on the play, then I saw him grabbing his knee.”
Delabar: “I didn’t see it, then I heard ‘oh!’ and thought that they had collided. You don’t like it when someone grabs at a spot on his body. I was hoping he’d twisted an ankle or had a calf cramp. Even when he stayed down I was hoping for the best.”
Mike Frostad, Jays assistant trainer, tended to Stroman, who was placed on a cart and driven to the 200 feet to the Jays clubhouse in right field by a clubhouse attendant named Dan.
Hutchison: “I know what it’s like to be out for an extended period of time. I was mentally lost. I had a lot of phone calls the day of mu surgery which helped.”
Thole: “That’s a blow.”
Norris: “Sanchez and I were talking about Michael Saunders. He stepped on a sprinkler and was supposed to be out until the all-star break. He had surgery and is due back in April. I’ll be praying for him tonight.”
Stroman joined the Jays’ rotation May 31 making 20 starts, going 10-6 with a 3.29 ERA, with 27 walks and 103 strikeouts. Against the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox he was a combined 5-1 with a 1.83 ERA in six starts.
Dioner Navarro: “How do we replace him? We can’t. You can’t replace a guy like that.”
Delabar: “Marcus came up last year and filled in for Brandon Morrow when he was injured, now someone will have the chance to step up for him.”
Donaldson: “It’s definitely a blow. We’ll miss his presence. Good teams are able to handle adversity.”
Stroman tweet, 2:49: “Beyond devastated. Not being able to compete with my brothers each and every day is extremely disappointing. Still can’t believe it.”
Delabar: “He’s a great athlete, this wasn’t anything but a freak injury. His foot got stuck.”
Navarro: “On the bright side, he’s still young, he’ll recover, he’ll be good again. But this sucks.”
Donaldson: “This is terrible news. It will give someone else an opportunity.”
Sanchez on his roommate: “He had tremendous success last year and was a huge piece of this. I’ll know better how he’s doing when I get home and see him.”
The Jays rotation will open with Dickey, Buehrle and Hutchison.
The best two the remainder of the spring from Sanchez, Norris and Estrada get the final two rotation spots.