Report: Alek Manoah’s shoulder soreness gradually improving behind the scenes

Photo credit:Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Hall
1 month ago
Slowly but surely, right-handed starter Alek Manoah appears to be making progress after suffering a shoulder injury that’s put his availability for Opening Day in serious jeopardy.
The 26-year-old made his first – and only thus far – start of the spring on Feb. 27 versus the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland, Fla., an outing that flew off the rails quickly as he allowed four earned runs on three hits and one walk over just 1.2 innings. He also plunked a trio of batters, missing arm-side to all three, just as he did throughout his nightmare 2023 campaign.
Manoah came out of his disappointing start against the Tigers feeling sore, with that pain stemming from his right shoulder. He thought it’d dissipate on its own, only it didn’t. Instead, it stuck around and hindered his throwing ability during his bullpen session a few days later.
“Tried to put some gas on it in the bullpen and it just felt really heavy, really cranky,” Manoah told Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith on Wednesday. “That’s where we decided let’s not put the gas on it just yet. We banged that start [scheduled for March 3 against the Boston Red Sox] and from there we’ve just been trying to get it feeling super healthy.”
Since then, Manoah said he’s been receiving daily treatment on his right shoulder to assist the healing process. He’s also continued to improve his strength and stability while focusing on his recovery, participating in exercises such as cupping therapy.
On the field, the 2022 American League Cy Young finalist has been throwing off flat ground to help maintain his mechanics and release point.
“The biggest thing is letting it heal,” Manoah said. “Then gradually build each and every day.”
The Blue Jays sent Manoah for an MRI at the beginning of March, which didn’t reveal any structural damage to his shoulder. Still, he hasn’t thrown off a mound in almost two weeks after his last one didn’t end smoothly.
But with his recent progress, the 2022 All-Star believes he could resume throwing off a mound by early next week. That is, of course, assuming he avoids any further setbacks.
With only two weeks until Opening Day, though, it’s clear Manoah won’t have a sufficient runway to build himself up to at least five innings before the regular season opens. As such, he’ll likely begin the year on the injured list at Triple-A Buffalo, where he can continue his build-up.
“The biggest thing is understanding it’s a long season. So it might be frustrating now, but it’s better than if it’s frustrating later,” said Manoah, who remains determined to enjoy a bounce-back season after faltering to a 5.87 ERA and enduring two minor-league demotions last season.
Bowden Francis, who’s making his fourth appearance of the spring against the Minnesota Twins on Thursday, figures to occupy a rotation spot in Manoah’s absence. If he pitches well, similar to how he has in exhibition action thus far, the 27-year-old could make things difficult for the Blue Jays brass.
But that’s a bridge they’ll cross if and when needed. In the meantime, with Kevin Gausman’s status (shoulder) for Opening Day also unclear, there’s a chance this club may start the season without two of its starting five, possibly thrusting Mitch White or another hurler into a temporary starting role.


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