Marcus Stroman is aiming for a quick return with the Toronto Blue Jays, but could expectations be too high for him?
While the Toronto Blue Jays continue their recent dominance in the American League, the one question that could have a major impact on if they makes the playoffs, is what will become of Marcus Stroman? While he has been given medical clearance to begin throwing off the mound, there is still some doubt of whether he can make up for not having a formal training camp.
Stroman will go to Dunedin to get rehabilitated as a starter, which is what GM Alex Anthopoulos believes he will return as. Listening to many baseball analysts and John Gibbons there is some doubt of whether Stroman will have enough time to get back as a starter.
The Blue Jays manager told Sportsnet that he has been surprised by Stroman’s quick recovery:
"“I thought it was going to take him through the year, he’d heal up and then be good as new next year,” said Gibbons. “He’s young so he definitely heals quicker than the older guys but there’s also something different about Stro.”"
However, Gibbons was also quick to temper expectations about Stroman coming back as a starter, when asked about it following his GM’s belief that he could return to the rotation:
"“Maybe, I don’t know, can he get built up that way?” replied Gibbons. “He just threw on the mound for the first time. I think at the end of the month he’s going to start facing hitters, a simulated game isn’t an actual game yet, might be a little far-fetched but I don’t want to say no. Might not be anything wrong with him coming out of the pen for a couple of innings, either.”"
If Stroman does find a way to return to the team at all, it is important for fans to try and remember he is coming off an injury that originally had him out for the whole season. His physician Dr. James Andrews, who is well known for his work on athletes like Drew Brees, Adrian Peterson, Bo Jackson, and Jack Nicklaus, was very shocked to see Stroman’s progress.
Back when Peterson made a strong recovery following ACL surgery, Dr. Andrews had this to say about young athletes like Peterson recovering from critical injuries:
"The problem is he was a very special patient. He had the best rehabilitation in Houston and with his trainer in Minnesota. He had 24-hour-a-day care and his rehabilitation was the key. It wasn’t that I did anything special with the surgery. You’ve also got to realize what a unique individual he was for recovery.One problem is that these young kids don’t have that kind of specialized care. They keep thinking they can come back and play too quickly, and then they get hurt again. I had a 10th-grade kid in today who came back too fast from ACL surgery. He came in here to get re-done. The expectations of younger athletes are skewed because of what these high-level athletes can do. We have to protect them from coming back too fast."
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Granted Peterson tore both his ACL and MCL and he would have been at a greater risk to re-injure himself, because he plays a contact sport. The running back came back after eight months and had one of his best seasons, which was a major surprise, but could Stroman’s recovery be even more remarkable?
Well, the last pitcher to return early from a devastating injury like Stroman’s was Yovani Gallardo of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008, who took just under five months to recover. Ever since that injury, Gallardo has not taken a step back, which offers some hope that Stroman can do the same.
Stroman has been in the right mindset since the injury occurred, which was to put the time and effort needed to come back from such a devastating injury. However, it would be really difficult for him to come back in September and take a spot in the rotation.
Gibbons would probably want him to come out of the bullpen at first. That way he gets a chance to face MLB batters, because he will not have the benefit of playing preseason game.
Plus, with a tight race in the American League, the Blue Jays have to remember that games in September are crucial, unless their recent hot streak puts them in a position where they can afford to have Stroman start a game. With all the excitement surrounding the team and the fanbase, it can be easy to get over excited about your best young pitcher defying the odds:
That is why expectations have to be low for Stroman at this point, because the Blue Jays no stranger to a pitcher totally losing confidence, after Ricky Romero‘s fall from grace. Fortunately, it is hard to imagine Stroman going through what Romero did, with a clubhouse that includes David Price, R.A. Dickey, Mark Buehrle, Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Russell Martin.
That is where their veteran presence will be important for Stroman. As exciting as it is for him, he will have to deal with the ups and down on the road to recovery, and these veteran leaders should be able to help with that.
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