|Blue Jays pitcher Jesse Litsch throws during practice at the team's spring training facility in Dunedin, Florida, on February 13, 2011. (MIKE CASSESE/Reuters)
DUNEDIN — Jesse Litsch is determined to drop the last two years into a deep, dark lake of amnesia. He’s ready to party like it’s 2008.
That was his last full healthy year when he established himself into a steady spot in the Blue Jay rotation, made 28 starts, tossed 176 innings and won 13 games with a 3.58 ERA.
In 2009, he underwent reconstructive elbow surgery and in 2010 had his return shortened by hip surgery.
Now he’s back, fully healthy and ready to make up for lost time.
“Obviously, the Tommy John and the hip surgery was a setback,” said Litsch, “but when you look at it in the long run, having the hip surgery gave my arm some extra rest. It was needed. From last year until now, there’s a big difference. Instead of 13 months after surgery, I’m now 19 months and my arm just feels so much better.
“I’m just trying to get back to the form I had in 2008. It was a matter of fine-tuning all my pitches. My armspeed is back and that’s going to help. Everything is moving sharper and smoother.”
Litsch is in the mix for one of two rotation spots up for grabs.
“Confidence is key,” he said. “Everybody that’s here competing for these starting spots, we all have the same mindset. When we go out there, we’re going out to win a spot. If you’re not out there doing that then you shouldn’t be competing for it.”