And then Sunday happened.
As John Lott of the National Post reported on Twitter, Santos was forced to exit a game, after pitching one inning against the Phillies in Clearwater, with tightness in his right triceps muscle. While the injury is considered mild in nature, the Blue Jays are taking no risks. The team will hold Santos out of his next scheduled appearance, a Thursday match-up with the Baltimore Orioles, and give the 29-year-old a few extra days off.
Toronto’s decision is likely being made for two reasons. Firstly, the team does not want a situation like that which occurred with Santos in 2012. After being acquired in a big trade with the Chicago White Sox the previous winter, Santos made just six appearances with the Blue Jays before right shoulder inflammation first lead to a trip to the disabled list, and eventually to season-ending shoulder surgery on July 15, 2012.
Secondly, the team is lacking a solid fallback plan, as Santos was the fallback plan at closer. Casey Janssen, who because the team’s closer midway through 2012 and performed admirably enough to be named the incumbent closer coming into camp, himself had offseason shoulder surgery and has just now started throwing off a mound. Still, he has yet to face live hitters at this early juncture of the spring and the Blue Jays have not been very forthcoming as to when he can be expected to. The team does not want to risk having both of its top closer options on the shelf to start the season.
Prior to the injury, Santos had tossed three innings, surrendering a single run and striking out three batters. Toronto will simply hope that a week’ worth of rest will help mend a sore muscle and allow Santos to step back to the mound without missing a beat.