MILWAUKEE - Other than the pitchers themselves, no individual has taken the stunning injuries to three of the Toronto Blue Jays starters harder than pitching coach Bruce Walton.
Last Monday the Jays lost Brandon Morrow due to a strained left oblique while last Wednesday, Kyle Drabek had to leave in the sixth inning against Washington with an elbow injury. Following Thursday’s off day, Drew Hutchison lasted just nine pitches in Friday’s game against Philadelphia before he had to depart due to a right elbow sprain.
On Monday, the news from Birmingham, Ala., was that Drabek will have to undergo a second Tommy John ligament transfer operation and will be lost for 12 months.
It’s been a bitter pill for the Blue Jays and Walton to swallow.
“It’s confusing and it hits you right in the heart in a lot of different ways,” Walton said Monday of last week’s pitching train wreck. “The big thing that helps is that they’re all going to be okay, there’s timetables for all of them as to when they’ll come back. You just hope that they come back stronger than ever.”
Making the injuries harder to swallow is the fact that all three had shown improvement from a year ago with Morrow especially on the verge of putting together an extraordinary season.
“All three of them were rolling a little bit,” Walton said. “Brandon had smoothed out his delivery, he was making pitches. Drew was really coming along and Kyle was starting to figure it out, he didn’t walk so many guys in his last couple of starts.
“We were all kind of going forward and I was really excited for them and then boom, that was a big blow to our entire staff.”
Walton said it is hard to digest the news and not rack your brain trying to determine if any of the injuries could somehow have been avoided.
“You go home and you’re lying in bead and you’re thinking about it,” Walton said. “You’re trying to connect the dots but none of the dots connect. You can go back to spring training, go back two years from now and whatever you want. But in the end you really don’t know, you don’t know why or when or whatever.
“It’s a frustrating part of the game because nothing points to anything in general.”
By the time that Hutchison called for the trainer to come get him on Friday it took on an air of unbelievability.
“The final straw was Hutch, I didn’t know what to think,” Walton said. “I just sat there and I didn’t know whether to cry or what. But the thing is they are going to be fine, they are going to have long careers.
“But to have it happen in one week — wow.”