06/09/2008 2:55 PM ET
B.J. Ryan: Focusing on baseball again
Blue Jays closer excited about bullpen corps north of border
It's a lot more fun talking about the success of the Blue Jays than answering questions about the health of my arm.
Coming back from the Tommy John procedure, people understandably want to know how I'm feeling. Now I feel like I'm getting back to being a baseball player again and focusing on the results we're getting on the field rather than my health.
It's all about competing for me. I've worked hard and a little faster to make my pitches this season. When you pitch fast, it keeps your guys on defense on their toes and they then make plays for you. They've done that since I've come back.
Now I feel like I'm getting back into the flow and pitching in consecutive games. I love being out there and competing again.
The surgery limited me to just five games (4 1/3 innings) last year. Coming back, the only thing that has surprised me so far is that some days are good and some days are bad. That's been the biggest hurdle. I don't feel the same every day. The medical staff keeps saying the first year is tough, and you have to grind your way through it.
It's about getting out there and getting a feel for pitching again. It's also about facing live hitters, and the elite hitters in tough situations. There's nothing you can do to prepare for that. Instead, you just work through it like I'm doing now.
It's also great to be back with the guys in our bullpen. They've been great getting the ball to me. Those innings in the sixth, seventh and eighth can be volatile innings, which is why it is so important to have consistent, veteran guys in those spots. You never know what's going to happen.
We have good depth with guys like Scott Downs, who is vastly underrated, and guys like Shawn Camp and Jesse Carlson, who have come in and taken the opportunity. Add a guy like Brian Tallet, who is finding his niche, and guys begin to feed off of each other. Everyone pushing each other to succeed creates a great bullpen environment.
But nobody in the bullpen would have a chance if our starters weren't doing their jobs so well. They've been pitching to contact, pitching aggressively and pitching deep into games. That allows those of us in the bullpen to stay fresh. We won't suffer from a buildup of innings later in the season, either.
B.J. Ryan has made a successful return to Toronto this season, closing out 13 of his first 15 save opportunities while allowing just six earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. A 6-foot-6 left-hander, Ryan was an All-Star with the Orioles in 2005 and again in 2006 in his first season with the Jays.