Justin Duchscherer missed all of 2009 and most of 2010 following hip and elbow surgeries, but the oft-injured right-hander told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com that he’s “pretty much 100 percent” healthy.
According to Ghiroli he’s held private workouts for at least five teams, and at various points this offseason Duchscherer has been linked to the Red Sox, Yankees, and Orioles.
All but 32 of his 224 career appearances have come out of the bullpen, but Duchscherer made it very clear that he’s not interested in relieving, saying: “I just don’t feel like, with the injuries I’ve had, that would be beneficial for my career. For me it’s black and white. I want to start, that’s the whole mind-set I have.”
Which is odd, because in most cases injured pitchers are encouraged to become relievers in an effort to stay healthier. If healthy Ducscherer could prove to be a very nice low-cost pickup, as he’s posted a 3.13 ERA in 455 career innings, but he’s 33 years old and has logged more than 60 innings in a season just once in the past five years.
The Blue Jays have released right-handed reliever John Axford from his minor league contract, per an announcement on Saturday. Sportsnet’s Shi Davidi speculates that the move could provide an avenue for the club to rework Axford’s contract, but the Blue Jays have yet to confirm or deny the report.
Axford, 35, was dealt a blow on Thursday after getting diagnosed with a stress reaction in the olecranon bone of his right elbow. Elbow soreness dogged the right-hander through much of his time in camp, and although he was scheduled for a follow-up examination later this spring, a definite return date had not been established.
Prior to the diagnosis, Axford was tabbed for a setup role with the team in 2019. He pitched to mixed results in 2018 (thanks in part to a late-season fracture of his right fibula) with a 5.27 ERA, 4.9 BB/9, and 9.8 SO/9 through 54 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays and Dodgers. Now, however, it’s not certain that he’ll return to the mound this season in any capacity.
Axford isn’t the only reliever the Blue Jays have lost to injury lately, either, as right-handers Ryan Tepera and Bud Norris have been sidelined with right elbow inflammation and forearm fatigue, respectively. Per Davidi, the Blue Jays offered Norris a $100,000 retention bonus to prevent him from opting out of the minor league contract he signed in February.