05/11/2009 1:41 PM ET
John McDonald: Youngsters pitching in
Blue Jays reserve infielder marvels at injury replacements
We've had some injury problems since I first came to Toronto in 2006, but I don't recall anything like what we're experiencing right now with our pitching staff, in particular.
Right now, we have six players on the disabled list, and five of them are pitchers, including some of our top guys: B.J. Ryan, Shaun Marcum, Dustin McGowan, Jesse Litsch and rookie Ricky Romero.
Still, we've had a lot of young players who've come up here and contributed, and that's been a great boost for the club. We've benefited from their play and, off the field, it has also given our team a bit of a college feel.
At first, you wonder how you got to this point. You ask yourself initially what has gone wrong. But, as time goes along, you begin to see the valuable experience our young pitchers are getting right now and see the positive aspects of our situation.
You start to think how much better your team is going to be based not only on what these young guys have accomplished but also what they've learned from their accomplishments. We'll be an even deeper team when we start getting some of our regular guys back.
Ricky Romero is one of our young guys who threw really well early before his injury. You have had guys like Brett Cecil making his debut, and Robert Ray has thrown well, too. It's nice to see these guys come up and not be overwhelmed by the situation. They've fit in well, and they know their roles.
I like how they have come up and thrown strikes. They've pounded the zone and let guys hit the ball. They haven't tried to strike everyone out, and they've pitched deep into games as well.
The games that these guys have helped us win these first weeks will help us down the road as our regular guys come back. The better we play now, and the more wins we compile, the more it will help us down the stretch.
Fortunately, our lead guy, Roy Halladay, has been strong and healthy. Everyone feeds off him, the young guys included. You watch how he goes about his business and the way he works. He works quickly, he attacks the zone and he mixes his pitches really well. He is a complete pitcher. He just doesn't go out there and throw. He has a plan every time out.
Our young guys couldn't learn from a better pitcher. I've noticed they watch Doc (Halladay), and they watch how he gets hitters out. He has dominant stuff, but he lets his ball work for him, and he pitches to contact. That's a great example for any pitcher.
Sure-handed infielder John McDonald, a 12-year veteran with three different clubs, plays a reserve role with the Blue Jays this season. Despite injuries, the Blue Jays' pitching staff is fourth in the AL with a 4.11 ERA.