The look on his face told you all that you needed to know.
There was Ramon Ortiz, with tears streaming down his face, barely able to contain his emotion as he walked into the tunnels at Petco Park among helpless looks from his Toronto Blue Jays teammates. Only moments ago, he’d just thrown his 38th pitch — a strike to Chase Headley — in the third inning of Sunday’s contest against the San Diego Padres.
It was perhaps his last.
For those who have followed baseball, the dreaded sight is familiar enough: Ortiz immediately showed signs of discomfort after the pitch, slammed his glove down on the ground and crouch down in frustration, pointing at his pitching elbow when the trainer came out to talk to him.
His Blue Jays teammates had come out to
console talk to the 40-year-old, but you didn’t really need to be on the field to get a good idea of what was going on.
Manager John Gibbons made no attempts to sugar-coat things, telling Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com that “it doesn’t look good”, while noting that the veteran minor leaguer will be sent to Florida for an MRI. Nothing will be finalized until that point, of course, though it would have to require a whole lot of optimism to expect that Toronto will have the righty available anytime soon.
Should it come to the worst-case scenario of structural damage, it is not something that the veteran would be likely to come back from at this stage of his career. It would be yet another blow to the team’s already-decimated starting rotation, and will likely lead to yet another unlikely minor leaguer being called upon to join the pitching carousel.
The Blue Jays, meanwhile, made the loss of their starter a rallying point on this night, eventually salvaging a three-game series with an extra-innings win in the 11th, kick-started by Mark DeRosa‘s solo homer — not to say that Ortiz, who’d posted a 6.04/1.78 ERA/WHIP in 2013, had necessarily been good enough to be some sort of messiah figure over the rest of the season, of course.
That said, it would be hard to argue that he’d gone above and beyond the call of duty.
A veteran minor leaguer who was to serve as depth (aka a guy with an arm), Ortiz was not expected to be part of the big league club at all. Instead, he made four starts that shouldn’t have happened, threw 25.1 innings too much in the bigs, and recorded his first MLB victory in two seasons that he shouldn’t have had.
Even if the results weren’t always there, his willingness to take advantage of every opportunity given to him endeared the veteran to the Blue Jays clubhouse. If the standing ovation Ortiz received from the Petco crowd as he exited was any indication — his teammates weren’t the only ones who understood, either.