The ongoing saga of one-time Blue Jays ace starter Alek Manoah keeps getting more bizarre by the day.
The big arm of the rotation and an all-star a year ago and now banished to the minor leagues, the explanations for the big right-hander’s demise continue to be both vague and eye-opening.
Speaking on MLB Network radio on Wednesday, Jays manager John Schneider endeavoured to explain the most recent shutdown of Manoah — including the fact that he won’t be pitching again this year. And not just with the big-league team, but in the minors.
Schneider’s comments were particularly intriguing given they run counter to the type of competitor Manoah had shown himself to be early in his big-league career.
“At the current time he feels like he’s not ready to compete so we’re going to respect that and kind of move on from it,” Schneider said. “We’ve been working through every decision with him together as a group and respecting his requests along the way.”
Schneider elaborated on his comments to the Toronto Sun prior to Wednesday’s game, describing what he meant by not being ready to compete.
“You don’t want to put guys in position that they are not comfortable with,” Schneider said. “Kind of just leaving it at that.
“It’s always been a back and forth between player and team. So you’re going to listen to your players’ input, for sure, and you don’t want to put him in a (bad) spot.”
Schneider acknowledged that the entire ordeal has had its frustrations.
“He’s a big part of our team,” the manager said. “So obviously not an ideal outcome.”
Not ready to compete is one of the last descriptions we’d expect to hear of Manoah, given his fiery approach to his craft. So is it something physical? Is it something mental? Will the full story be shared in the off-season? Is it Manoah who feels he’s not ready to compete or is it his employers?
The 25-year-old former first-round pick last pitched for the Jays on Aug. 10 and his activity since then has been kept largely a mystery by the team, leading to rampant speculation, much of it ridiculous.
The Jays have claimed that Manoah had undergone some physical testing with the Jays, though the specifics of any injury — if there is one — has yet to be revealed.
With much more pressing concerns, Manoah’s teammates are understandably not interested in discussing the situation.
Schneider elaborated on Manoah’s delayed reporting of almost two weeks to the triple-A Bisons after his most recent demotion.
“He took a little bit of time to report,” Schneider said. “We, meaning us and him, wanted to make sure he was physically in a good spot to ramp back up.
“When he got (to the Bisons) throwing and the timing of the season isn’t going to be enough for him to get stretched out.”
As bizarre as the handling of the Manoah affair has been, it certainly seems an unnecessary distraction at a time when the Jays are battling for an American League wildcard.
Thus far, Manoah has declined to comment on his situation, only adding to the intrigue. It’s been quite a tumble from a year ago when he was the lead man in the rotation and preparing for a big post-season start.
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Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah unlikely to pitch again this season: Report