It was 15 ½ months ago when Tim Mayza threw a wild pitch, and before he took a knee you knew something was wrong.
It was September 13, 2019 and the Blue Jays were in extra innings tied at five with the New York Yankees. With nobody on base and a full count to the first batter Mayza was facing, his full count pitch went about eight feet behind the back of Didi Gregorious.
Mayza took two small steps and dropped to both knees where he stayed for the next 45 seconds being surrounded by teammates.
Mayza was able to walk himself off the field, however, in the days to come we would learn he would require Tommy John surgery to repair two different parts of his throwing arm. I cannot recall watching a game live and feeling so bad for a player. I assumed watching Mayza sitting there on his knees, that he was immediately wondering what was left with his career. Laura Armstrong from the Toronto Star wrote a piece back in December 2020 about his recovery and how he started rehabbing the day after surgery, and once the pandemic hit he hurried to the local fitness store to pick up equipment to help his rehabilitation before it was sold out.
More from Jays Journal
- Single-A Dunedin Blue Jays advance to the Championship Series
- Blue Jays: Comparisons for Alek Manoah’s Second Season
- Blue Jays: Adam Cimber, the unlikely decision King
- Toronto Blue Jays: Has the Shift Killed Kevin Gausman’s 2022 Cy Young Hopes?
- Blue Jays: What Yusei Kikuchi’s latest stumble should mean
Tuesday afternoon, Mayza stepped on the mound to pitch in a game for the first time since that injury nearly 16 months previous. During the Blue Jays third game of Spring Training, Mayza came in to pitch the fourth inning in a tied game. He needed just 10 pitches to get through the frame, allowing no runs and giving up just one walk. Getting back on to the mound is an accomplishment on its own, but putting up a zero on the board in your return has to leave Mayza and his supporters with a giant smile on their faces.
During that 2019 season Mayza earned a spot as a full-time bullpen arm for the year, appearing in 68 games, mostly as a left-handed specialist. That season he held left-handed hitters to a .211 batting average while the right-handed side hit .248. With the new minimum batter rule he will need to show the club that he can be as effective against righty batters as well.
Mayza was a bit of a long shot to make it to the majors in the first place as he was a 12th round pick back in 2013, and now that he is in the midst of his long shot to return he has added a lot of supporters in his corner.
What are your thoughts, do you think Mayza can still be an effective bullpen arm for the Blue Jays in 2021?