The opening-day roster looked like one that could contend.
The Toronto Blue Jays had the pieces in place to put up a strong fight entering the 2012 season.
They won 23 of 29 spring training games, outscoring their opponents by 77 runs.
Sure, spring training records don’t mean too much.
The Arizona Diamondbacks were the National League West champs in 2011 after posting a 12-25 record in the spring.
As it turns out, Toronto’s opening-day roster was unknowingly lined up like inanimate targets at a shooting range, waiting to be taken out one at a time (or sometimes three at a time, as was the case with the starting pitching staff).
The season unraveled like a careful plot, one that felt too orchestrated to be believable.
“Not again,” we’d all say, when Tommy John’s name was spoken.
“It can’t get worse,” muttered before staff ace Ricky Romero took another loss.
A look at the season that fell apart all too quickly:
March 26, 2012
The club signs 30-year old Dustin McGowan to a two-year deal worth $1.5 million US per year, and a team option for $4 million. McGowan was expected to be a member of the starting rotation, despite missing most of the previous four seasons with injuries.
At the time of his signing, McGowan was dealing with an injured right foot, a setback that appeared minor. While rehabbing, McGowan experienced discomfort in his shoulder, eliminating him from starting-rotation contention.
He underwent season-ending surgery on Aug. 9.
April 21, 2012
Hard-throwing closer Sergio Santos lands on the disabled list after pitching in just six games with the club. In his short stint, Santos blows two save opportunities, drawing boos from the Toronto crowd at home.
Rehabbing his shoulder, he ends up facing season-ending surgery in July, and is expected to start throwing again in December. Merry Christmas.
June 12, 2012
The week from hell begins, as starter Brandon Morrow is placed on the 15-day DL with an oblique strain.
The right-handed hurler, who had already pitched two complete-game shutouts and was on track for an all-star season, would find himself out of the game for the next two months.
June 13, 2012
Kyle Drabek leaves a game as a precautionary measure against the Washington Nationals after his 85th pitch, feeling a “popping sensation” in his elbow.
Although this incident felt different to the first time Drabek was forced into Tommy John surgery in 2007, Dr. James Andrews confirmed that the 24-year-old righty would have to undergo the procedure again the following week.
June 16, 2012
Rookie Drew Hutchison, who posted a 4.66 ERA in his 10 starts with the club, leaves his start after nine pitches against the Philadelphia Phillies.
The 21-year-old was expected to attempt a rest and rehab process, but by August, he found himself on Dr. Andrews table going through the same surgery as Drabek. He isn’t expected to throw again until January 2013.
July 8, 2012
The reliable lefty, Luis Perez, is immediately placed on the DL after leaving the game. He undergoes Tommy John surgery, repairing his torn UCL, and becomes the Blue Jays seventh pitcher on the major-league roster on the DL.
July 16, 2012
Jose Bautista thought his wrist injury would be worse. He felt pain on an eighth-inning foul ball. X-rays were negative, and he was expected to be back in the swinging business after his stint on the DL.
Little did he know, he’d end up dealing with season-ending surgery in September to repair structural damage.
July 18, 2012
Jays’ third baseman, Brett Lawrie takes an ugly spill into the camera well at Yankee Stadium. Remarkably, he emerges with just a calf contusion.
A crisis wasn’t completed averted, as Lawrie’s rib cage flared up after the dive, and the all-out player lands on the DL on Aug. 3.
July 21, 2012
The Blue Jays announce that retroactive to July 17, veteran Jason Frasor joins the army on the disabled list with tightness in his forearm.
The reliever struck out 45 in 36 innings in the 2012 season before becoming the newest casualty.
July 25, 2012
Catcher J.P Arencibia’s hand starts turning purple after he takes a foul ball off of it in the second inning.
He stays in to finish the inning, before he’s out for the next six weeks nursing a fractured hand.
Aug. 29, 2012
It can always get worse. J.A Happ, who moved into the starting rotation, had a misstep during a play at first base.
The discomfort lingered, and an MRI nearly 10 days later revealed a fracture requiring season-ending surgery.
Sept. 4, 2012
Interim first-baseman/designated hitter David Cooper is out for the season. The club cites a recurring back injury as the source of his misfortune.
Sept. 15, 2012
Adding insult to injury, Yunel Escobar plays a game with ‘Tu ere maricon’ written on his eyeblack. Translated by Google, it’s a homophobic slur, and the image goes viral.
The drama reignited debates that Escobar was still the same clubhouse menace that the Atlanta Braves unloaded.