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Bisons Bites: Blue Jays injury updates

This Canada Day edition features updates on the injuries of Brett Cecil, Kevin Pillar, and Sean Nolin.

Brett Cecil warming up
Brett Cecil warming up
Minor Leaguer

Monday night in Syracuse saw a great performance by Bisons starter Aaron Sanchez. He completed seven innings, giving up just three runs on seven hits, striking out two while walking just one. He was dominant at he beginning of the game.The most trouble he had was in the seventh when he looked a bit tired; he hit Brandon Laird, then a wild pitch allowed Laird to advance to second and a balk sent him to go to third.

It led to a 11-inning game that had the Chiefs win 5-4 on a Sandy Leon walk off homer against Luis Ayala.

Injury Updates

Sean Nolin has been bothered by a groin strain since mid-May and has been off-and-on the disabled list since then. He came back briefly for three short outings in June before he went back on the DL. He told Bluebird Banter that he was "definitely a lot better", his flexibility is returning, and he is pain-free. Right now he is long tossing, on flat ground, and the next step is to throw some side sessions. There is no definite timeline for return, but he certainly wants to "take it slower than last time" as he felt he rushed himself to return from his previous stint on the DL.

Kevin Pillar returned to the field tonight after not playing since Friday and had a RBI single. His absence from the lineup was not because of punishment, but due to a wrist injury. He spent most of Sunday's game as the Bisons first base coach. He said that his wrist is feeling better and better, but he still has it wrapped up.

Brett Cecil started his rehab assignment with the Bisons Monday night in Syracuse against the Chiefs. He threw nine pitches, eight for strikes. However he did give up a game-tying home run to Tyler Moore on a cutter that caught too much of the plate.

"I'm feeling good. I'm not worried about results, just how I feel," Cecil said in front of his teammates who just lost on a walkoff home run.

It seems like Cecil's groin injury is behind him. He said that he will be back with the Jays when they head to Oakland to face the A's on Thursday (even though he will be activated Friday). He is due for one more rehab outing this Wednesday, and will be out there for one inning or 25 pitches.

Chat with Randy St. Claire

Bisons pitching coach Randy St. Claire re-joined the Blue Jays organization this season after spending 2013 as the pitching coach of the Las Vegas 51s. Previously, St. Claire was the major league pitching coach for the  Expos / Nationals from 2003 to 2009, and was the Marlins pitching coach from 2010 to 2012. He was nice enough to chat for a bit about being a pitching coach in the triple-A level.

What are the differences between being a major league and a minor league pitching coach?

You do more work for the front office than you do for the players [here]. All your work at the big league level, for me, is for the player. Here we do game reports, you’re constantly doing stuff to keep [the front office] informed—which is part of the game, it’s got to be done, game reports on your players, mid-season reports, all that kind of stuff. [Here] I do my own location charts, all of the defensive charts, other charts, stats, that I do on my players where in the big league level you get all that, so the work you do is just work for the players.

Besides that there is no difference. The same things you do to be successful here you have to do to be successful up there. Pitch down in the zone, you gotta be able to command your breaking ball, your fastball to different parts of the plate, up, down, in, out you gotta work ahead you can’t work behind, you can’t walk guys. Basically it’s the same exact game, just it’s in triple-A.

How is it with Steve Delabar (and other players) being sent down to the minors?

Sometimes they come down and they’ll be a little pissed off for a game or two, so we just kind of let it go. Then they usually understand it. Whether it’s right, or whether it’s wrong, sometimes they come down pissed off and they have no right to be pissed off. Other times they have a right to be pissed off. But you kind of let it go because usually it’s gone real quick. Their goal is to get back, so usually it’s not that big of a deal. I will have the conversation with him and say "let’s get back to workin’ and back to where you were and they’ll let you back up."

What do you do to communicate with the other pitching coaches in the Blue Jays system?

We’re on the same page with guys and Pete [Walker] would call me and I would call Pete so we’re all on the same page and we communicate.

Upon [Aaron Sanchez’s] first arrival, we did [talk with the double-A pitching coach] then it’s more communications with me, Rick Langford, Dane Johnson and that type of stuff. They have the video on him they’re watching it too. So it’s talk between all of us and then we hit that area we’re trying to focus on.

What he needs to work on at this level is fastball command. Fastball command. If you’ve got fastball command, you’re working ahead, then you can expand with your breaking ball. The breaking ball is supposed to look like a strike then it breaks out of the strikezone. If you’re behind the count with the fastball, you can’t use your breaking ball because they usually aren’t in the strike zone. The ones that stay in the strike zone usually are hangers. But when you’re ahead you get chase swings on borderline pitches that may be a ball. You can also throw a first pitch breaking ball for a strike and then they’ll go "oh now what is he gonna do". So to me, fastball command is the most important thing that every guy has to have when they go to the big leagues.

[Sanchez’s] command is getting better from his first game [here]. He tends to get inside the ball a little bit where he’ll lose an armside. He’s got such great action when the ball comes out of his hand. We’re working on staying on top of the ball so the ball stays true through the zone. First game was so-so, a couple things happened, some infield hits happened. His last game was much better, and he had a couple of infield hits there too. But when he gets that fastball in the zone they just don’t have good swings at it, they get weak ground balls. We had a number of groundballs with a guy on base that we couldn’t turn two because it was hit so slow they couldn’t get the out at first base. I was very impressed and really liked it. He seem to have so much confidence. It seems to come out so easy—not forced. He’s not a guy that’s max effort, it just comes out so nice and clean.