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Todd Redmond looks forward to seeing the results of the weighted-ball program

Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

When the Blue Jays selected Todd Redmond off waivers in the last week of spring training in 2013, most of us thought that he would be a good addition to the Buffalo Bisons' starting staff. But an combination of injuries and ineffectiveness among the pitchers on Toronto's opening day roster meant that the club had to dig through their depth to find healthy arms. Although all these problems were bad for the Blue Jays and their fans, it created chances for pitchers like Neil Wagner and Todd Richmond to come up and pitch in the major leagues.

"There's always going to be injuries and people who go up-and-down. Luckily it created a spot for me and gave me an opportunity to show what I have up there," Redmond told Bluebird Banter in an interview, "you hate to see people get hurt--you really do--you don't want it to happen to anybody, but like any other sport someone will go down and someone will have to replace them. It's a bittersweet thing."

Redmond himself had a late start to the 2013 season, spending the first month-and-a-half on the Bisons' disabled list with a shoulder impingement injury. After just two appearances in triple-A, Redmond was recalled to the Jays before being sent back to the International League.

He ended up making 14 starts and three relief appearances for the Blue Jays, putting up a decent 4.32 ERA and 1.208 WHIP over 77 innings. Redmond's strongest weapon was the strikeout; averaging almost a strike out an inning (his 8.9 K/9 rate put him in second behind Josh Johnson among Blue Jays starters) while keeping his walk rate down. His best game of the season came on September 19, when he pitched into the eighth against the Yankees, striking out seven and allowing just one run on four hits. However, when he was tapped to pitch the Jays' final game of the season against the Rays (who were fighting for a playoff spot), Redmond was ineffective, giving up five runs and not being able to finish the first inning.

"I was a little up-and-down the whole season, but I finished up in the big leagues and that's what I hoped to do," Redmond said.

In order to avoid injury and to better prepare for the upcoming season, Redmond tells us that he has enrolled in Jamie Evans's "weighted-ball" program, joining Steve Delabar, Dustin McGowan, Brett Cecil, Sergio Santos, and other pitchers in the organization in the arm strengthening program. Redmond, who throws one of the slower fastballs in the majors (at 90.6 mph), might seem like a candidate who can benefit from the increased velocities that the can result from weighted-ball exercises, but he is primarily focused on arm health.

"It’s more just for health reasons, just to keep my arm healthy," Redmond explains, "it’s not so much for velocity—if I gain some, that’s great, I’m not going to complain about it."

The 28-year-old right hander, who planned on starting to throw off a mound this week, said that over the winter he has already started feeling a difference in his arm after completing the weighted-ball exercises. He said that his arm has loosened up, and that it feels better than it felt in 2013, but he doesn’t know yet how it will feel when he gets deep into games, especially later into the season.

"It’s tough to say until you get to that point," Redmond said, "once you’re built up as a starter you should be able to go six, seven innings. It shouldn’t matter whether you’re on the weighted-ball program or not on the weighted-ball program, your arm should be in shape to do that. It’s just hopefully you can last longer and later into the season—that’s where I think it helps."

Redmond is now out of options, meaning that he cannot be sent down to the minor leagues without being exposed to waivers. However, he is not a lock for the opening day roster as the Blue Jays have quite a few pitchers who are also out of options. A good spring training might mean a spot as a long-relief and swingman role in Toronto, and a great spring training might mean he could get a spot on the rotation—assuming the Jays don't make any further acquisitions. He doesn't care whether he ends up in the rotation or the bullpen next year, he just wants to stay in the big leagues.

"I always prepare the same way, I’ve always been a starter my whole career. But if they need me in the bullpen, it doesn’t matter to me," Redmond said, "mentally, I will be preparing as a starter with the same routine as I always do."

"My goal would be to make the team out of spring training. That would be a very huge accomplishment. Either starter or reliever, whatever they need."