DUNEDIN, Fla. — There has been far too much injury rehab in pitcher Matt Shoemaker’s career, so every time he makes it back to a big-league mound after a successful recovery, you better believe he appreciates the moment. Read MoreThe Shoe fits again as Blue Jays starter looks sharp in Grapefruit League debut — Toronto Sun
There has been far too much injury rehab in pitcher Matt Shoemaker’s career, so every time he makes it back to a big-league mound after a successful recovery, you better believe he appreciates the moment.
And he savors it even more when it’s the first start of spring, everything feels good physically and the optimism of a strong new season ahead adds to the moment.
The Blue Jays starter experienced all that and more on Monday at TD Ballpark when he allowed just one hit over 2.2 shutout innings and struck out five in leading his team to a 4-0 win over the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“All of it. You say any of those words and they all fit,” Shoemaker said when asked whether he felt relief or reassurance in his first game-action since suffering a season-ending knee injury just five games into his 2019 season. “Most importantly, just really exciting. It’s been a while.
“You fight through injury and surgery and the just excited to be back out there. The excitement starts back up. You’re facing hitters.”
Shoemaker was confident he’d be able to pick up where he left off last season pitching some of the best ball of his career before the devastating injury took place on April 20th when he took a bad step in a defensive rundown. But there’s no replacing the confidence gained from getting out on the diamond and actually doing it.
“Overall (the anticipation) felt really normal, which is very good,” the 33-year-old Shoemaker said. “I’m excited every time I get to go out to pitch, (but) coming off an off season the intensity picks up the adrenaline picks up.
“We play baseball because we love it. It’s exciting to go out there and compete.”