HOUSTON -- Injuries are the last thing any Major League player wants to deal with, but in the case of Chad Jenkins, a right shoulder ailment in early July might have been a blessing in disguise.
Prior to the injury, Jenkins had lost his way with Triple-A Buffalo. He was sent down by the Blue Jays on May 29 after three strong outings against the Orioles, Red Sox and Padres, and the original belief was that he would be back within a couple of weeks.
When the phone never rang, Jenkins went into a downward spiral. His confidence was shaken and not only was he doubting his place within the organization, but he also began to question whether he even had what it took to be a professional pitcher.
"I was somehow getting Red Sox hitters out, and then I turned the page and I don't think I could get my grandmother out," Jenkins said. "I kept thinking in my head, 'What do I throw, what am I doing wrong?' I tried to start mechanically fix things, and that was leading to 55-pitch sides [side sessions].
"I never felt right, something was always bothering me in my shoulder, and I guess the good lord was good enough to let me pull something else so I could sit down, take it easy and start over. When I started over, I didn't worry about mechanics, I went back to throwing the way I know how to throw."
Jenkins gradually built up arm strength and the confidence started to return when he enjoyed some success during a brief stint in the Gulf Coast League. Jenkins joked about how odd it was for a 25-year-old to find his footing in what is essentially a rookie league, but it was a necessary building block for his career.
The Tennessee native then received a promotion to Double-A New Hampshire and with that came an opportunity to rejoin a starting rotation. He tossed 15 innings over the course of four appearances while allowing just two runs and the progress created another opportunity at the big league level.
Jenkins was promoted to the Blue Jays after right-hander Brad Lincoln was optioned to the Minor Leagues, and while his role is somewhat up in the air, he's just happy to be back in the fold.
As for not getting the call, even after the Blue Jays told the media back in late May that Jenkins was only being sent down for 10 days, there are no longer any hard feelings.
"It was tough to swallow for me, but at the end of the day it was a decision that was made for the team and I had to live with it, and that's perfectly fine," Jenkins said. "I should have pitched better in Triple-A and I didn't, I have no one to blame but myself. As you can see with my Triple-A numbers, they were a little inflated (7.48 ERA).
"For me, right now, I just want to pitch and whatever gets me into the game, I'll be glad to stay there. If they want to keep me in the 'pen as the long man, I'll gladly do that. I enjoyed that last year, and if they want me to start ... every five days I'll go out there and give it everything I've got."
Cecil to work in shorter stints moving forward
HOUSTON -- The Blue Jays are expected to monitor the workload of left-hander Brett Cecil through the remainder of the season, but it's not due to an injury.
Toronto manager John Gibbons recently said the club will begin using Cecil in shorter stints. He'll either be used as a lefty specialist or pitch one full inning at most, but the extended outings out of the bullpen are over for this season.
The main reason is that the Blue Jays want to take a cautious approach with Cecil after he transitioned to the bullpen this season following several years in the starting rotation. Cecil, for his part, appeared aware of the situation, but said his arm feels as good as could be expected this late in the season.
"I feel fine. I pitched a lot and it's only been probably two or three times that I've actually asked to have off because of normal soreness, but something that you just need a day of rest," Cecil said. "It's only happened two or three times.
"I feel like if I can get a day of rest here, then I can be more valuable to pitch back-to-back days instead of throwing 20 pitches and then going back out the next and throwing 10, and I'll need two days off after that. I have no problem with it."
Cecil's first year in the bullpen has gone better than anyone could have predicted. He went from barely making the team out of Spring Training to being selected to the American League All-Star team. The Maryland native now has a clearly defined role in late-inning relief and is expected to be an integral part of the club's bullpen for years to come.
The 27-year-old Cecil entered play on Sunday with a 5-1 record and 2.73 ERA in 59 1/3 innings. He has come a long way since the beginning of April and there's no question he picked up a few tricks along the way.
"I'm learning my first full year in the bullpen, it's different the way you look at hitters, it's different the way you warm up, it's different the way you feel the next day," Cecil said. "In April and May, I told Casey [Janssen], if I threw two innings I wanted to throw three innings the next day because I felt so good.
"[Darren] Oliver has been a bullpen guy for like 10 years probably, and he was the first one to say something to me, 'Hey man, save your bullets because you're going to need them in August and September.' I said the other day, 'Sure enough, I needed to save some bullets.' But, I'm getting the hang of it, so hopefully next year is a little bit different."