When Blue Jays closer B.J. Ryan missed most of 2007 with an elbow injury, Jeremy Accardo had a career year as his fill-in for Toronto, compiling 30 saves and a 2.14 ERA.
But after missing most of last season with a forearm injury, Accardo has been battling just to get back to the big leagues. The 27-year-old’s quest continues with the 51s.
Despite going 2-1 with seven saves and a 3.74 ERA in 19 appearances for Las Vegas, Accardo has yet to receive a call from Toronto, which has promoted nine 51s pitchers.
“There have been some moves up and down, and hopefully one of the next few is going to be me,” Accardo said. “If not, the trade deadline is coming up and hopefully I can go play for another squad.
“I just want to pitch in the big leagues, wherever that is. Hopefully it’s with Toronto, but if it’s not, it’s not … I love the city of Toronto. I’m marrying a girl from there, so it would be perfect if I was there.”
Accardo strained his right forearm early last season and tried to pitch through the injury. But after going 0-3 with a 6.57 ERA in 16 games, he was placed on the disabled list May 10 and hasn’t been back to the big leagues.
“It’s a weird injury. When you injure it, you have to completely stop throwing for a long period of time to let it heal, like a strained (hamstring),” Accardo said. “We rushed it back a couple times, but it just didn’t work out and we had to shut it down.”
Accardo struggled in spring training, when he had an 8.71 ERA in 10 1/3 innings, but has gotten closer to his top form during the regular season.
He pitched a scoreless inning for the 51s on Monday to save their 10-8 victory over Tacoma and has held opponents scoreless in 13 of his outings.
“I feel great,” Accardo said Tuesday before Las Vegas’ 6-3 loss to Tacoma at Cashman Field. “The way I’m throwing now, I think I can get outs up there (in the majors).”
51s pitching coach Dave LaRoche agrees Accardo belongs in the big leagues.
“He definitely does not belong here, in my opinion,” LaRoche said. “He has thrown that well. He has good enough command and he has good enough confidence.”
Signed by the San Francisco Giants in 2003 as an undrafted free agent out of Illinois State, Accardo was traded to Toronto on July 22, 2006, for Shea Hillenbrand and Vinnie Chulk.
Despite last year’s injury, Accardo signed a one-year, $900,000 contract with Toronto in the offseason, which is why he was surprised he didn’t make the team this spring.
But LaRoche said Accardo just needs to be patient.
“Because there’s lots of teams out there that are going to be looking for pitching any day now,” he said.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0354.TACOMA — 6 LAS VEGAS — 3
KEY: Jeff Clement had three RBIs for the Rainiers, who went ahead 3-2 with a three-run fourth and didn’t trail again.
NEXT: 51s (LHP Fabio Castro) at Colorado Springs (LHP Franklin Morales), 6:05 p.m. Thursday, KBAD-AM (920)