How Blue Jays’ Tim Mayza came back just 16 days after dislocating his shoulder

BOSTON — Tim Mayza is a bit of an oblivious dude. He admits it. That’s probably why he’s a good reliever. He is stoic, emotionless. He doesn’t get bogged down, doesn’t over-analyze. He can quickly ignore unfortunate events. He’s the kind of guy who, say, dislocates his shoulder and thinks he’ll be fine in a few days.

Frankly. Leaving the field in Minneapolis on August 6 following a collision at home plate that separated his right humerus from his shoulder, the Toronto Blue Jays left-hander thought he’d get that sucker back and be back on a mound in no time. He has seen movies. He knows how it works.

“I really didn’t realize the extent of the injury or anything like that,” Mayza says. “I was like, ‘I looked Friday night lights. Billingsley put his shoulder back in place and ran 40 yards the next play. I should be able to throw a ball in a few days.

He could throw a ball that early, of course. But locating a bullet precisely 94 mph from a mound is another matter. This part took some time. But maybe not as long as you’d imagined, as Mayza was activated from the injured list on Tuesday, just 16 days after sustaining a gnarly injury that at first glance looked like she could put him out. gap for months.

But the quick comeback comes as no surprise to Mayza. That was the plan from the start. Doctors who assessed him in the days following the injury told him a two-to-three-week return to competition was realistic if he nailed every stage of his rehabilitation – and if he kept his throwing arm active throughout.

This was Mayza’s main challenge. Find ways to throw with his left arm without putting too much emphasis on his right. At first, Mayza threw from flat ground with a large yellow inflatable ball under her right armpit, which helped stabilize her shoulder and limit her movement. In six days he was doing the same thing on a mound.

Throughout these early stages of the process, Mayza did not catch return pitches after pitch, working with a coach who would receive them for him. Think of how an NFL quarterback warms up. It wasn’t until Mayza regained strength, stability and full range of motion in his shoulder that he was allowed to throw without the big yellow ball under his armpit and catch return throws.

“Every day there was a lot of strengthening exercises, rotator cuff exercises, slowly getting that full range of motion back,” Mayza says. “It was really a step-by-step process, laid out. And it was just a matter of making sure my shoulder was stable enough to not only get off the mound, but also to protect me if a comeback were to happen.

In order to simulate this scenario, the Blue Jays placed Mayza in front of a pitching machine and fired balls at her. Straight to the start. Then to his right and to his left. Mayza enjoyed the thrill of this one. This is not an exercise he has had to do before.

“I felt like a catcher – it was pretty fun,” he says. “It was just a good indication of how I felt in certain places, in certain positions. Being able to catch, being able to take some [pitcher’s fielding practice,] those were really the final steps to making sure I was ready to go to rehab.

Mayza’s only minor league rehab appearance was a breeze, and this week he returned to active duty with the Blue Jays, giving the club a southpaw out of their bullpen for the first time. times since his fall. He worked twice in Toronto’s sweep against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, giving up a few hits that didn’t score. With a runner in the eighth inning of Thursday’s win, he got a key ground fly from one of MLB’s best left-handed hitters – Rafael Devers – to hold a tie and take his team into the ninth.

It’s Mayza’s role in a Blue Jays bullpen that has exceeded expectations for two months. Get stuck in traffic, cut through traffic, take on the best left-handed hitter in the world and put some zeros.

“It’s so good to be back quite quickly. Any guy that goes on the IL will tell you, it’s like time stands still,” Mayza says. “You want to be able to contribute. You want to be able to go out there and help the team win. And when you’re not, you sometimes feel a little helpless. Like, ‘Oh, man, I wish I could be out there and do whatever.'”

Of course, Mayza’s shoulder didn’t return to where it was before the collision. The pain comes and goes. He will be wearing a brace during the throw for now. He has a long list of daily strengthening work to do in the weight room as he continues to progress in stability.

And he also plans to keep that big inflatable yellow balloon handy. He technically doesn’t need it anymore. But he got used to working it under his right arm during parallel sessions and loves the feeling it gives. Walking around with it during batting practice this week at Fenway Park, Mayza enjoyed another feeling — being back where he belongs.

“It’s going to be a fun game here,” Mayza said. “When you’re in IL, the days are long. You do a lot of rehabilitation to come back. But, the next thing you know, you’re kicking off and you’re on your way. And then it starts to go a little faster. I think all guys who get injured desperately want to come back as soon as possible and contribute in any way they can. So, I’m really looking forward to doing this.

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