top of page

Manoah, Jansen, Swanson, and Romano Rehab with Herd

By: Brian Frank

The Bisons had four key members of the Toronto Blue Jays in their lineup for the first game of their doubleheader against the Rochester Red Wings on Saturday afternoon – starting pitcher Alek Manoah, catcher Danny Jansen, setup man Erik Swanson, and closer Jordan Romano. Although the Herd lost the game 8-2, all four players here on rehabilitation assignments came out healthy and all appear closer to rejoining the parent club.

Manoah, who’s coming back from a right shoulder injury, fired 78 pitches over 3 1/3 innings pitched. He allowed four earned runs on eight hits and one walk, while fanning four batters.

“My job out there is to attack,” Manoah said. “And today I was attacking. I feel like I was throwing the ball pretty well.”

“There weren’t many three balls counts and when there were I still attacked and got back in there. I think that’s the biggest thing, not giving up on counts and understanding that my stuff is very good – and even 3-1 or whatever (the count) is, they can know what’s coming, I just need to attack and execute.”

Six of the eight hits Manoah allowed were singles, and two of them were of the infield variety. The lone walk he issued was to the final batter he faced.

“I think you’re trying to check boxes on how your body feels and you don’t try to worry about the results,” Manoah explained. “I think once you start checking the boxes that your body feels great, you can go out there and attack. I felt like I was able to get into a pretty good rhythm. That third inning, (Juan) Yepez had a great at-bat. He ended up winning it. But I got right back in there after that and continued to attack. I think it was second and third with no outs and I was able to limit it to only one run. That’s something I pride myself on is limiting damage and I feel like I was able to do that today and get back to being in a really good rhythm and attacking and feeling good.”

Manoah on the Sahlen Field mound. Photo Credit: Brian Frank, The Herd Chronicles

“When you’re rehabbing, you kind of forget that you’re competing,” Manoah said. “So for me, I’ve been able to feel really well. So, today was about going out there and competing – checking that box. I knew the conditions weren’t well and all that stuff, but I focused on embracing that. Understanding that if it rains or it’s cold, it’s like that for everybody. For me, it’s just embracing some of that adversity and going out and having fun. It’s a kids’ game and I’ve been playing this game since I was three years old. You kind of look back to why you started playing – and it’s because you love it. As you start to check those boxes rehabbing, one of those boxes is to go out there, have fun, and compete. I know it might be a Triple-A game or whatever the case may be, but I don’t really care. I’m just out there having fun.”

Jansen was impressed with what he saw from the 6’6” right-hander.

“We wanted to fill up the zone today,” Jansen said. “I liked his aggression and I liked his confidence in his pitches and we were just trying to go right after guys.”

Even though Manoah played for the Bisons, it was the first time he’d ever pitched for them in Buffalo. The 2022 A.L. All-Star played for the Bisons when they were based in Trenton, New Jersey, in 2021 in order to allow the Blue Jays to play at Sahlen Field when the U.S.-Canada border was closed due to the pandemic.

“That was funny, we were actually talking about that earlier,” Manoah chuckled, “because I saw a picture of myself on the scoreboard and I was like that’s got to be A.I. They were like – ‘No you played here.’ And I was like, ‘No we played here when the big-league club was here, when I was in Triple-A we were in Trenton.’”

Jansen behind the dish. Photo Credit: Brian Frank, The Herd Chronicles

Jansen, coming back from a broken bone in his wrist, caught all seven innings. The Blue Jays’ backstop is 3-for-11 with a grand slam, double, and 6 RBIs through three rehab games with the Herd.

“I’m just trying to keep getting some more reps before this stint is done,” Jansen said. “I feel pretty good as far as my hand. I feel like I’m in a good spot and I’m just trying to continue on and get some more reps behind the plate. It’s been a little while, so just getting the swing of things back there again.”

Swanson, coming back from a forearm injury, got the first two outs of the fifth inning. He threw 18 pitches, allowing a run on two hits while striking out one.

“I feel good,” Swanson said. “I think after these last two (outings) my body feels like it needs to be where it’s at. I’m bouncing back good and my stuff feels like it’s where it needs to be.”

It was Swanson’s second game with Buffalo, having also pitched for the Bisons on Thursday afternoon – but he’s pitched at Sahlen Field before this rehab stint.

Swanson fires a strike. Photo courtesy of the Buffalo Bisons Baseball Club.

“I remember playing here in 2018,” Swanson said, “when I was with New York. I was with Scranton. Obviously, this is a really cool city, a great park to play in. You don’t really get the full effect this early in the year as far as fans go – but I’ve been here and seen some games where this place packs out and it’s a fun place to play. Obviously, the guys that are in this clubhouse – there’s a lot of big-name guys in this clubhouse that can swing the bats really well. Same things for the guys on the bump. It’ll be a fun team to watch throughout the year for sure.”

Romano started the sixth inning. He fired 18 pitches in two-thirds of an inning, allowing two walks while striking out one. The Blue Jays closer is returning from an elbow injury.

“I’m feeling good,” Romano said. “That was pitch, then a day off, and then pitch – and I got through it pain free. So that hurdle is over with I think.”

“As long as I respond well tomorrow, I think we might be in there. That could change or whatever, but as long as I feel good tomorrow. I felt great after my first one the next day, so I feel like we’re pretty much there.”

“He feels good and he looks good,” Jansen said of Romano. “The balls coming out and the shape of his pitches are there. So he’s good. Ready to go.”

Romano loves the Queen City. Photo Credit: Brian Frank, The Herd Chronicles

It was Jansen’s 126th career game with the Bisons, while Romano was pitching in his 27th career game for the Herd. Both Jansen and Romano also played in the Queen City for the 2020 and 2021 Blue Jays.

“I’ve played a lot of baseball games here,” Jansen said. “I spent a lot of time here. I spent a lot of time with (the) Covid (seasons) here and a little bit of 2017 and 2018 being here with the Bisons. The clubhouse staff, everybody around, it’s familiar faces. Obviously, you don’t want to be here (on rehab) but it’s a good group of people all around.”

“I loved my time in Buffalo,” Romano said. “I didn’t get to go to the food spots I really like to because it’s just kind of short trips. But I love Buffalo. I love the fans. I wish it was a little warmer so we got a few more of them. But I loved my time here and it’s always enjoyable being back.”

“Buffalo is, I guess, my home away from home,” the Markham, Ontario, native added with a chuckle. “Toronto’s my home. That’s where I love to compete – but Buffalo is a close second place.”


bottom of page