Chatted with Jesse Litsch for a bit on Monday evening. There will be a story on bluejays.com today about some of the charity work he’s been doing down in his home state of Florida this offseason. Recovering from Tommy John surgery has provided plenty of down time for Litsch to tackle such endeavors.
On the baseball front, Litsch said he is scheduled to throw in his first bullpen session on Feb. 3. It’ll be his first time up a mound since going under the knife in June. Barring any setbacks, the Blue Jays are hoping Litsch will be recovered and able to help out their young and inexperienced pitching staff come June or July.
“It’s right around the corner for me,” Litsch said about the bullpen session. “I’m just doing everything to work up to it and trying to get back to where I was before, hopefully better. We’ll see. It’s been a grind and I’ve got to grind out these next four months and get back to the field.”
When he does make his way back, though, there is no guarantee that Litsch will have a job waiting for him. And he knows it.
“Obviously, I’m excited to get out there as soon as possible,” he said. “Hopefully, I have a spot when I come back. If they’re out there beating everyone, there’s always that possibility. That’d be good for the team, so I’m not worrying about anything but my main focus, which is to get healthy and help out any way I can.”
Without Litsch, the long list of rotation candidates includes Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero, Brandon Morrow, Brian Tallet, Brett Cecil, Marc Rzepczynski, Scott Richmond, David Purcey, Dustin McGowan, Robert Ray, Brad Mills, Kyle Drabek, Zach Stewart, Reidier Gonzalez, Luis Perez, Casey Janssen… did I miss anyone?
“There’s no doubt we’re going to be young, especially as a pitching staff,” Litsch said. “But, we have guys on the staff like [relievers Jason] Frasor and [Scott] Downs who have been through it for a while, and they’re going to help us out as much as they can. Tallet, if he’s in the rotation, he’s going to help out, too, as more of a veteran guy.
“It’s all going to be interesting. I think we’re going to make some eyes open if we come out shooting. If we all click together, like we were early in the season last year, we’re going to surprise some people, I’m thinking. Everyone’s working their tails off this offseason.”
As for the loss of ace Roy Halladay…
“It’s obviously tough to see him go,” Litsch said. “But, in the same respect, it opens up a spot for someone else to come up and shine. It’s a matter of going out there and performing. When you’re out there performing, if you step up your game, you might not be like Halladay, but you could be.
“In the future, you never know. Maybe one of these Drabeks, one of the young guys, can come up. They say they have stuff like Halladay. When Halladay first came up, the first couple years, he got sent back down to A-ball. It’s a matter of adapting and finding yourself and going from there.”