2016 Canadian draft list
Letters of Intent
By Andrew Hendriks
It’s been one of those months for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Two days prior to the scheduled reporting date for position players, Michael Saunders stepped on a sprinkler on Field No. 1 at the Bobby Mattick Training Center, tearing the meniscus cartridge his left knee and sidelining the newly acquired outfielder for what originally was thought to be upwards to five months.
Shortly after the Saunders incident, right handed hurler Marcus Stroman was next to fall having stopped short on the turfed expanse of the Blue Jays half field adjacent behind the centre field fence at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in the process. Stroman, 24, will miss the 2015 season in it’s entirety.
But wait, there’s more …
Catcher Dioner Navarro banged up his knee in a game against the Detroit Tigers, left handed reliever Brett Cecil is suffering from shoulder inflammation and Edwin Encarnacion has a sore back and according to the Jays will be unavailable for “five days,” which was about at least five days ago.
Under the guise of an injury update, general manager Alex Anthopolous met with members of the media prior to the Jays split-squad action in Dunedin and Kissimmee.
His agenda was short and to the point as with this unscheduled meeting, another injury would be revealed.
It’s not a sprinkler head, patch of unforgiving turf or an errant throw that will keep Kevin Pillar away from spring training action in the immediate future.
No … it’s something far more common and generally perceived to be less harmful.
This time, a sneeze is to blame.
Having sneezed in the clubhouse prior to Saturday’s 1-0 win over a split -squad of visiting New York Yankees, Pillar, 26, pulled the oblique muscle on his right side resulting in a Grade 1 strain.
Although he’s the latest, Pillar isn’t the first Blue Jay to fall victim to similar circumstances as both left handed pitcher Ricky Romero and former center fielder, Colby Rasmus succumbed to the same injury following a sneezes in 2009 and 2013 respectively.
As ridiculous as this all sounds, million dollar athletes injuring themselves in such a manner, suffering from an oblique injury via sneezing is shockingly common in professional sports, affecting numerous athletes yearly.
“The thing about a sneeze is it’s a very powerful movement, it not only involves high forces but very rapid forces” explained Dr. Richards, team physician with the Toronto Raptors in a 2009 interview with the Globe and Mail.
“In a sneeze, major force and velocity occurs. It’s more explosive than most sports motions.”
More than ever before, overall conditioning has become a focal point in today’s athlete and the fact that their bodies are as finely tuned may lend to the theory that injuries such as a sneeze aided strained oblique muscle are becoming common place.
Albeit without the benefit of a base-on-balls, Pillar had quietly carved out a nice showing this spring hitting .269 with five RBIs and a home run in 26 spring at bats. In addition to his steady work at the plate, the 32nd round draft pick (2009) had, prior to his injury, looked strong defensively.
Competing for an outfield spot with the likes of Dalton Pompey, Dayan Viciedo, Chris Dickerson, Ezequiel Carrera and Caleb Gindl, Pillar’s workmanship attitude had impressed both fans and management alike as, in his third spring with club, the native of West Hills, California had earned an extended look.
With a timetable of 10 days set for his recovery, there will still be an opportunity for Pillar to get into a handful of exhibition games before the club heads north this spring should he rebound as expected.
In the meantime, club officials are working feverishly to remove all ladders, mirrors and black cats from the Blue Jays training complexes.
– Follow Andrew Hendriks on Twitter (@77hendriks)