After dealing with shoulder soreness throughout spring training, Josh Donaldson did little to suggest the issue is behind him on Opening Day.
Donaldson, who is well known for his strong arm from the hot corner, came up limp on a few conspicuous tosses to first base in Toronto’s 6-1 loss to the Yankees. He was tested early and often and never seemed capable of unleashing that fastball to first that Jays fans have come to admire.
“His arm just feels dead, not injured,” Blue Jays Manager John Gibbons said after the game. “He was definitely a little off so we may have to DH him a little bit more until it comes back. We don’t think it’s a big deal, it’s just dead.”
The first sign of Donaldson’s struggles came in the first inning after the former MVP made a great diving stop on a Gary Sanchez grounder.
While that toss to Justin Smoak certainly raised a few eyebrows, it wasn’t exactly cause for concern at the time. Donaldson did pop up pretty quickly in order to get Sanchez at first and he may have had a poor grip on the ball, but the concerns began to mount as Donaldson threw dribbler after dribbler across the diamond.
“Dead arm” is a commonly used term that often refers to pitchers who experience fatigue of the throwing arm. The term doesn’t actually refer to an injury, but it’s a little strange for such a baseball term to be applied to a position player.
Donaldson missed some time in early March and played sporadically when he returned to action. He skipped the club’s two-game exhibition series in Montreal, though Donaldson maintains the decision had nothing to do with his sore right shoulder. But after Opening Day, it appears Donaldson’s shoulder may be more of an issue than the Jays had led on.
“It felt good and as the game went along it felt like it was getting better,” Donaldson said after the game. “It’s kind of felt like some days feel really good and maybe the next day I’m overworking it sometimes. It’s a thing that I’m trying to be cautious with and knowing when to push it and when not to.”
While Donaldson’s defensive performance was alarming, Gibbons doesn’t appear to be all that concerned.
“Today, he just had to make a couple of off-balance throws, that’s why it stood out. I’m not particularly worried.”
More Blue Jays coverage on Yahoo Canada Sports: