Of all the crazy things (some memorable, others despicable) to happen in yesterday’s Canada Day marathon game between the Blue Jays and Indians, what stood out for me was the gutsy and courageous performance of relief pitcher Bo Schultz.
Normally when a relief pitcher comes in any time during a game and tosses 2.2 scoreless innings, it’s worthy of discussion and praise. But the fact is that Schultz pitched part of the 15th, and all of the 16th and 17th innings on a hip that still hasn’t fully recovered from off season hip surgery to repair torn cartilage and remove several bone spurs from his hip bone. Given that Schultz’ hip has not been given the necessary time to fully heal, his play on Canada Day was the gutsiest performance I’ve ever seen from a Toronto Blue Jay.
In Schultz’ second inning of work, Cleveland managed to get runners on 1st and 3rd with no outs, and it looked like a sure thing that the Indians would get at least one run and finally take the lead. Schultz would proceed to induce a pop-up to Troy Tulowitzki for the first out, record a strike out for the second, and then get Indians catcher Chris Gimenez to line out softly to Josh Donaldson for the final out. Incredibly, Schultz had almost single handedly kept Cleveland off the scoreboard in a situation where one of the best teams in baseball should have at least scored a single run.
When it was announced on June 26 that Schultz would be rejoining the Blue Jays, it seemed far too rushed for a player coming off surgery and only having pitched 21 innings in the minors this season. On several plays in particular, it was evident that Schultz’ hip had not yet completely healed and that the Jays were asking far too much of him. The poor and inconsistent play of several pitchers in the bullpen this season had forced Toronto to rush Schultz’ recovery and return to the majors, when it was obvious, given the discomfort Schultz displayed several times yesterday that he should have been allowed to progress on a much more reasonable time table in the minors.
Schultz potentially put his season on the line yesterday to win a Canada Day ball game that lasted a ridiculous 19 innings. He was fully aware that he was the last pitcher in the bullpen for Toronto, and that his coach and two of his teammates had already been thrown out by an umpire who’d been making calls that went against Toronto all game long. The Blue Jays owe it to Schultz to provide him all the time he needs in the minors to recover properly now. Last season Schultz pitched very well only to end up missing the final few months of the season, including the incredible run in the playoffs due to the hip problem which had been bothering him for some time. This time around, give him the time he needs to heal, no questions asked, and then bring him back when he’s more than strong enough and ready to help Toronto in their push for the 2016 post-season.