Alek Manoah eager to bounce back for Toronto Blue Jays after 3-9 record, minor league demotions

DUNEDIN, Fla. (AP) —

Alek Manoah didn’t look like himself when he arrived at spring training last year following a third-place finish in the AL Cy Young Award voting, according to teammate Kevin Gausman.

“I think he tried to rush and get ready and never got into a good spot,” Gausman said Saturday. “Whether it was mechanically or physically with his arm, once you start the season, it’s hard to gain it back. You have to use spring training to get all those worked out.”

Manoah was optioned to the minors twice and finished 3-9 with a 5.87 ERA, down from a 16-7 record and 2.24 ERA in 2022 that earned him an All-Star selection.

“If you look at the biomechanics, my body was a little out of whack, mechanics were a little out of whack,” Manoah said. “Nobody wants to go out there and let their teammates down.”

Following the steep drop-off from a 25-9 record in his first two seasons, the 26-year-old right-hander spent the offseason learning how to improve his mechanics and get into better physical shape.

“Being able to fix my arm slot was the biggest thing for me,” Manoah said. “We’ve been able to address some of those things. Shoulder and arm were not getting to where I needed. We’re feeling really good right now.”

Blue Jays catcher Danny Jansen has been impressed.

“This is the best he’s looked throughout his entire career,” Jansen said. “It looks like everything he’s done is going to help him on the mound. He’s a confident dude. What he’s done in the past isn’t a fluke.”

Manoah hopes to solidify his role as a starter in a rotation projected to include Gausman, Chris Bassitt, José Berríos and Yusei Kikuchi.

“He’s hungry. He’s ready. He’s a fierce competitor,” Gausman said. “You can go through struggles in the minor leagues or college and it’s different. When you go through struggles in the big leagues, you’re under a microscope. You don’t have to worry about his mindset.”

Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette echoed those comments.

“I don’t think anybody ever doubted him,” Bichette said. “To see the way he’s come into camp, the shape he’s in, the work he obviously put in; that’s something that gets all of us very excited. We know he can be an ace on a great team.”


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