Fantastic news to pass along here, as Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that former Cy Young Award winner Frank Viola has fully recovered from open-heart surgery and is ready to serve as the pitching coach for the Mets’ Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas.
Viola spent the past three seasons as the pitching coach in A-ball with the organization, but he was slated to move up to Triple-A this year. However, he had open-heart surgery on April 2 after an issue was detected during a spring training physical. Viola told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News last month that the surgery functioned as a wake-up call for him, as he has lost 19 pounds and has never felt better. Great to hear.
Viola will represent the Mets at the First-Year Player Draft next Thursday in Secaucus, New Jersey before joining Triple-A Las Vegas on Friday. He’ll be quite a resource for top prospect Noah Syndergaard, who is currently recovering from a flexor pronator strain in his right elbow.
Blue Jays closer Ken Giles hasn’t exactly turned things around since joining the Blue Jays on July 31, when the club sent embattled closer Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles posted a 4.99 ERA in 30 2/3 innings with the Astros, then put up a slightly less miserable 4.58 ERA in 17 2/3 innings with the Jays. Still, he’s much happier with the Jays than he was with the Astros, even after winning the World Series with them last year. He said to Rosie DiManno of the Toronto Star, “I’m actually enjoying the game more than I did for my entire tenure in Houston. It’s kind of weird to say that because I won a World Series with that team. But it’s like, I just felt trapped there. I didn’t feel like myself there. Overall, I felt out of place.”
Giles also said “the communication was lost” with the Astros and it was something that came easy with the Jays. He said, “When I came here, they stayed patient with me. I said hey, I want to work on this thing till I’m comfortable. All right. OK, I’m comfortable, let’s move on to this next thing. Pitching, you can’t just try to fix everything at once. For me, I had to take baby steps to get my groove back. The Jays allowed me to do that. Yeah, the team was out of contention, but it doesn’t matter. It’s still my career. I still have to prove myself. Them being so patient with me, understanding what I want to do, was very, very big.”
Giles, 28, has two more years of arbitration eligibility remaining. He has shown promise despite his overall mediocre numbers. In non-save situations this season (with both the Astros and Jays), he has a 9.12 ERA. But in save situations, his ERA is a pristine 0.38. Giles could be a closer the Jays find themselves leaning on as they attempt to get back into competitive shape. Since it sounds like Giles is quite enamored with Toronto and with the Blue Jays, a discussion about a contract extension certainly could be had.