When right-handed pitcher Blake McFarland was added to the Toronto Blue Jays’ 40-man roster in November of 2015, he was as close as he’s ever been to the big leagues. A non-drafted free agent out of San Jose State, McFarland didn’t even focus exclusively on baseball until he was well into college but he was talented enough to get seen by the Blue Jays and get a professional contract.
McFarland had risen through the Jays’ organization, steadily moving upward from his first assignment in Vancouver in 2011. Adding a splitter, McFarland took big steps in 2013, saving 18 games with the Dunedin Blue Jays and the 6-foot-5 righty posted ERAs of 2.89 and 2.03 in the two seasons that followed, peaking in Triple-A Buffalo for 10 2/3 innings in 2015. McFarland told Blue Jays from Away that over the 2015/16 offseason, “I was at a very pivotal part of my career having just been added to the 40 man roster and eagerly looking to make it to the big leagues.”
Now on the 40-man roster, heading to major league spring training, McFarland was trying to make his dreams come true. He got into three games with the big league club, and despite giving up a run on three hits in one inning, he tells us that “everything felt really good. I got sent down to minor league camp a little after half way through spring training and in my first minor league spring training game I threw two innings where my arm just didn’t ‘feel right’.”
While McFarland didn’t feel pain, he couldn’t throw the next day. The thought that something was seriously wrong with his arm was not an easy one to entertain. “I was devastated really,” he wrote, “knowing I was not going to pitch the rest of the year.”
The injury turned out to be an impingement in his shoulder that necessitated the removal of a flap in his rotator cuff. He underwent surgery in May and then, in June, the Blue Jays ended up releasing him in August to use his spot on the 40-man roster after the Jays had made all of their trade deadline moves. Fortunately, that release came along with being re-signed to a minor league contract.
McFarland has since been rehabbing at home in California as well as doing some work in Saint Martin in the Caribbean, spending time with his wife who is in medical school there. He’s also found time to work on his art, crafting some tire sculptures for display during the Cotton Bowl, doing some spearfishing and finishing a couple of paintings, including one for his teammate Rowdy Tellez.
In Florida since January, McFarland has been spearfishing and has “thrown a couple of bullpens and everything feels great,” he says. It doesn’t appear that he’s going to be held back from the regular flow of minor league spring training. “I am eagerly looking forward to rejoining my teammates and playing the game I love with the ultimate goal of making the big leagues,” he wrote.
While he’s a renaissance man who has many different interests and talents, Blake McFarland “cannot wait to get this season started!”
Neither can we.
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