By Bob Elliott
NEW YORK _ We remember the old song ...
“Ankle bone connected to the shin bone
“Shin bone connected to the knee bone
“Knee bone connected to the thigh bone
“Thigh bone connected to the hip bone ...”
No where do the lyrics read chin bone connects -- or come into contact -- to the shoulder blade.
Upon further review Troy Tulowitzki suffered a small crack in his left shoulder scapula after he was hit by Kevin Pillar’s mandible in the opener of Saturday’s doubleheader.
“It was Kevin’s chin,” Tulowitzki told reporters outside the Blue Jays dugout at Yankee Stadium Sunday morn. “At first I thought it was an elbow, but chin and elbow are similar. It definitely got me good.
“I knew something was wrong. I don’t come out unless something is wrong. In this instance, I knew I had to get off the field. I was in pain.”
Tulowitzki made it clear he was not upset with Pillar and said he appreciates the way the centre fielder plays the game.
Now, with this football-style injury the Blue Jays could be without their shortstop and No. 5 hitter for next two or three weeks. They don’t know for sure.
“If you look back in history all teams who won a World Series or made it deep into the playoffs, faced adversity,” said Tulowitzki, “whether guys missed time or things didn’t play out the way they thought. That’s part of the game.
“Hopefully, this will be something that makes our story that much more special.”
Matt Cain, the horse of the San Francisco Giants starting rotation and starter of all three postseason series clinchers in 2012, was sidelined last October following elbow surgery.
Kirk Gibson had injuries to both legs in 1988 and had only one plate appearance the entire World Series ... a game-winning homer in Game 1 facing Dennis Eckersley.
Vince Coleman was surprised when he was attacked by the tarp in St. Louis during playoffs and missed the 1985 World Series.
Toronto was 50-50 when they acquired LaTroy Hawkins and Tulowitzki from the Colorado Rockies on July 28. They are now 21 games over .500 after Sunday’s loss.
The Jays came into the Bronx with a 1 1/2 game lead headed for Atlanta up by 3 1/2 after taking three of four.
“(Treatment) is being discussed,” general manager Alex Anthopoulos told reporters. “There have been a few NFL players that have had similar injuries. Our staff is starting to talk to some NFL teams and we’re going to look for anything that we can do to hopefully get him back sooner. More than anything it’s going to be time at this point.”
The Jays have 19 games remaining until they finish the regular schedule Oct. 3 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg against the Tampa Bay Rays.
Time is not on the Jays side.
“From what I understand, I don’t want to be pinned down, our doctors felt strongly but he could be back to game action in a three-week period,” Anthopoulos said, “he still may be playing with some discomfort. What the level that would be, no one really knows. It could be more than if he doesn’t heal fast. If there are
any type of issues it could take longer.
“I’d say the entire staff is cautiously optimistic it could be in that time period.”
Anthopoulos said that the next week will tell Jays doctors a lot, “how quickly he heals, how quickly he progresses.”
“Not everyone heals the same, it’s a very small crack,” Anthopoulos said, “there’s a lot of bleeding internally that needs to subside. After the Atlanta series we’ll have more of a feel to see how well he is doing.”
Anthopoulos was asked if the report from club doctors that Tulowitzki could be back should be viewed as good news?
“I don’t know, at this point, the fact that there’s a chance he’s back for October is certainly good,” said Anthopoulos. “Any time you have a serious injury you’re worried. The one thing is we have depth from a defensive standpoint. You’re going to lose the bat and what he brings, the intangibles, but I talked to him. He’s going to be around the team and what he brings to the clubhouse is going to be there.
“I still expect us to be a very good defensive team.”
The Jays trip to New York was a success as they put distance between themselves and their closest rivals.
But big picture it was a very costly visit. While Tulowitzki was hitting .232 with six doubles, five homers and 15 RBIs to go with a .232 average and a .682 OPS in 39 games, he had upgraded the infield defence.
Forget a double play being a pitcher’s best friend which moves to No. 1-A on the list, behind a grounder to short as the gangly shortstop field balls in the hole, jumps and fires to first as well as throwing on the run.
“I’ve had to deal with some injuries in my career, usually my legs, this is something different,” Tulowitzki said. “Time will tell. Hopefully I can get back and help this team.
“Right now I’m leaving it to heal. I still have to talk to some of the doctors, map out our plan.”
Ryan Goins was at shortstop Sunday with Cliff Pennington at second.
The Jays acquired Darwin Barney Saturday night from the Los Angeles Dodgers and he was at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Barney has spent parts of six seasons in the majors but was only with the Dodgers for two games this season, spending the summer at triple-A Oklahoma City.
Honors for A-Rod: Alex Rodriguez was honored before the game appearing at home plate with his mother and daughters. The Yankees presented him with a Waterford crystal for becoming the 29th player in the majors to reach the 3,000-hit plateau. A clip from former manager Lou Piniella was played on the centre field scoreboard as Piniella urged Rodriguez to “help the Yanks win the pennant.”
As a member of the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Yankees, Rodriguez had 242 of his 3,000 hits against the Jays. He had 47 doubles and 58 career homers. The 40-year-old has 177 RBIs while batting .274 with an .885 OPS against the Jays.
He has the most hits against the Baltimore Orioles (277), followed by the Boston Red Sox (253), the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (252) and the Jays.
And as for home runs he has the most against the Angels (70), with the Orioles (67) and the Jays next. He has eight homers off Tim Wakefield, Ramon Ortiz, David Wells and Bartolo Colon. He doubled and singled against Dickey and now has 3,059 hits.
Chirping: During the 20 innings the Yankees and the Jays played on Saturday Yankees coaches accused first base coach Tim Leiper and third base coach Luis RIvera of relaying either signs or location (or both) to Jays hitters.
A subsequent shouting match ensued.
Setting up inside: The message was delivered at the first pitchers meeting inside the class room off the Jays clubhouse at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium in Dunedin.
The 2015 Blue Jays pitchers in-season goal would be to own the inside part of the plate.
“Certain guys were comfortable going inside, but we thought with Russell Martin coming over to join Dioner Navarro is was a good time to discuss it,” said pitching coach Pete Walker. “We had to do a better job this year pitching inside.”
Walker said it was not the first time the subject had been discussed, but it was the most emphatic the Jays had been at getting their point across.
Pitching inside had a three-pronged benefit, according to Walker: for effect, to back hitters off the plate; to get more inside strikes and to throw quality balls.
One from the room: Old reporter “That Justin Smoak is something at first ... he has arms like Mark Belanger?”
Young player: “Who is Mark Belanger?”
Posing: Jays bench coach DeMarlo Hale and Yankee coach Tony Franklin posed for a picture Sunday which will be displayed in the double-A Trenton Thunder Hall of Fame.
Franklin managed Trenton from 2007-14 with a 619-522 record (.543 winning percentage) taking the division title five times and the Eastern League three times when it was a Yankee affiliate.
Hale ran the show in Trenton from 1997-99 going 234-190 (.552) winning a division title his final year when the Thunder were a Boston Red Sox farm team with David Eckstein, Morgan Burkhart, Adam Everett, Shea Hillenbrand, Tomo Ohka and Rafael Betancourt.
Clothes make the man: Roger Duthie, head of sponsorships for at Emirates is in the city for the U.S. Open.
The Toronto resident works for the Dubai-based airline and stopped by the Blue Jays clubhouse at Yankee Stadium to drop off AC Milan and an Arsenal jerseys for slugger Jose Bautista.
The airline owns both soccer clubs.
(Confession: we had to look up the soccer part).
Police blotter: Former tennis star James Blake, tackled on camera outside the Grand Hyatt this week, after being misidentified by a witness, says the plainclothes New York City policeman who arrested him should be fired.
The officer is James Frascatore, brother of John Frascatore, who pitched for the Jays in 1999-2001 and was in a dugout scrap with pitching coach Dave Stewart in Arlington, Tex. during a game against the Texas Rangers.