When right-hander Henderson Alvarez left his start because of elbow stiffness at Boston's Fenway Park on Monday night, Toronto Blue Jays manager John Farrell might have had a fleeting thought about coming out of retirement to pitch.
After all, who was left? Alvarez was the fourth member of the Jays starting rotation to go down over the past 12 games, following Brandon Morrow, Kyle Drabek and Drew Hutchison.
Well, the Jays didn't actually consider activating their skipper, but they have signed someone nearly as old.
The Jays confirmed they agreed with 49-year-old left-hander Jamie Moyer on a minor-league deal. He will report to Triple-A Las Vegas and join its starting rotation with no promise of being promoted to the majors. Moyer recently was granted his release by the Baltimore Orioles — who weren't prepared to bring him up — after posting a 1.69 ERA with 16 strikeouts, 11 hits and no walks over three appearances for Triple-A Norfolk. The Rockies released Moyer on May 30 after he posted a 5.70 ERA in 10 starts, though he did become the oldest major leaguer to get a win along the way.
The best news about GM Alex Anthopoulos making this signing: Considering the Canadian exchange rate, Moyer is only 47. After all, 45-year-old Omar Vizquel has been playing like a 43-year-old all season. Hooray for market inefficiencies! (And just wait 'til they pair up to do "I'm Not Rappaport!")
But whatever you do, don't make "Jamie Moyer is old" jokes where Jays left-hander Ricky Romero can hear them. As one of the team's few healthy hurlers, Romero doesn't have time for jokes when it comes to Toronto's pitching predicament.
After Alvarez went down because of his elbow, some on Twitter used gallows humor to frame the Jays' situation. Romero wasn't laughing:
— Ricky Romero (@RickyRo24) June 26, 2012
Too soon! Baseball players tend to be a superstitious lot, and of course they're going to be protective of their teammates. Romero might have been better off ignoring the humor attempts, rather than taking public offense, but it's easy to say that when you don't have to walk a mile (or pitch) in his cleats. Romero continued saying his piece:
Criticize my game, criticize my performance & criticize me as a person all u want. But making jokes about injuries is not funny to me or my teammates. It sucks what has happen to us a team. But were gonna keep grinding for u The Fans and the city of Toronto.
And no I don't fear going out there and pitching. Whatever happens I leave it in Gods hands.I can only control what I can control. Peace Out
Though Alvarez's injury is not considered serious — he said he was feeling better after the Blue Jays' 9-6 win against the Boston Red Sox — Alvarez will visit a team physician in Florida on Tuesday just to be sure. The Jays also called up right-hander Scott Richmond (speaking of injured starters) from Triple-A, and sent down Robert Coello.
And then there's Moyer, just 3 1/2 months younger than Farrell, giving it another last shot to reach the majors. Here's hoping he makes it back and helps the Jays, and hoping the Jays have peace with their pitchers the rest of the way. And then perhaps Romero and his teammates can look back on this time and ... well, not laugh. But instead appreciate that people care, even in unorthodox ways.