TORONTO — On Tuesday afternoon, about ten minutes after 3:00 p.m. ET, Devon Travis bounced out of the Toronto Blue Jays clubhouse, bat in hand. He jogged onto the Rogers Centre turf and went through a quick warmup before running over to second base where he chased after a series of ground balls hit in his direction by his third base coach Luis Rivera. Grounders to his right and left. Some balls he had to charge in on. Some he let come to him.
After that, Travis joined his teammates for a round of batting practice, something he’s been doing for a few days now after receiving clearance to take swings during Toronto’s road trip through Texas last weekend. Careful not to overdo anything, he drove balls to left, centre and right.
Travis is running now, too. Both on a treadmill and on flat ground. He tested his right knee — which was operated on this June to repair cartilage damage — over 40 feet on the Rogers Centre turf Monday, running back and forth. No issues, no setbacks, no trauma in the knee when he woke up the next morning.
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All this work isn’t fun or exciting, but it’s necessary. Travis desperately wants to be back on the field sometime before the Blue Jays season is over. And now that he’s doing everything a ballplayer does — running, throwing, catching, swinging — he can feel himself getting tantalizingly close to achieving that goal.
“I’m definitely getting closer and closer every single day,” Travis says. “It’s coming.”
The Blue Jays aren’t sharing a firm timetable for Travis’ return, not wanting to create expectations that may or may not be met. But the club’s GM, Ross Atkins, has said he hopes to see Travis in a game sometime this month, adding that the second baseman has “progressed as well as we possibly could’ve hoped.”
Travis will no doubt need a rehab assignment to get his legs back under him before he rejoins the Blue Jays. But the beginning of that rehab appears to not be far off, even if the club isn’t telling the player himself much of anything at this point.
“I truly have no idea of, like, a plan. I don’t know any timetable or anything,” Travis says. “But I know I’m feeling good. I continue to listen to what they tell me and as soon as I can get back out there on an assignment, I know I’ll be right on it. I just know that I feel really good. Like, really good.”
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For now, Travis will continue arriving at Rogers Centre every day around 10:00 a.m. and begin a long series of treatments, exercises and tests under the guidance of the club’s head physical therapist, Nikki Huffman. Travis never knows what he’ll be doing on any given day until he shows up and Huffman gives him directions. Travis says the only time he gets any advance notice is if he’s going to be told to rest the next day.
“Nikki always has a plan in her head,” Travis says. “I don’t question it. I’m just going one thing at a time, one day at a time. The biggest thing is how my knee responds to everything, but it’s been great so far. I keep doing more and more every day. As long as I can continue to control what I’m doing without having a setback, we’ll continue to move forward.”
The Blue Jays will, of course, take every precaution with Travis, considering his injury history and the lack of a playoff push for him to be a part of, nut whenever he does get back into a game it will be a massive emotional victory for the 26-year-old. He’s worked towards his return for months now and with each long day of rehab, he feels himself creeping closer and closer to actualizing it.
“I’m eight weeks out, so it’s moving along pretty well,” Travis says. “Hopefully you’ll see me out there before long.”