‘One of our MVPs': Blue Jays reliever Tim Mayza thriving after long rehab

TORONTO –- Tim Mayza is leaned up against the soft blue railing of the Blue Jays dugout, about two hours before the first pitch of what will be an 8-1 thrashing of the Tampa Bay Rays.

© Mary Altaffer/AP mayza_tim1280

The 29-year-old lefty doesn’t know how the game will go just yet, obviously, but he posted up on this railing with a big smile on his face. “It’s so fun to be part of a late-season push,” Mayza says. “We’re a resilient group. We’re a team that continues to claw back and to never give up.”

That last bit sure sounds a heck of a lot like Mayza himself. On Sept. 13, 2019, the reliever that manager Charlie Montoyo calls “one of our MVPs” endured the most awful moment of his career. He threw a pitch against the New York Yankees and then crumbled to the ground with a burning sensation in his arm. It turned out to be not just a torn tendon that required Tommy John surgery, but also a complete flexor tendon tear that added five months to his recovery.

But Mayza has since clawed his way back. “A lot has changed since then,” as he puts it, and that’s a big understatement. “Being a father, I went after my degree. And I’m healthy.”

In January, Mayza became a dad to a little guy named Everett. Earlier this year, he got his Masters degree in sports administration from Ohio University. And, on that last point, the biggest one as the Jays head down the stretch with an eye on a wild-card berth, Mayza is fully recovered from the injury that shelved him for all of 2020.

Everyone in the Blue Jays organization knew Mayza had the talent to become Toronto’s reliable eighth-inning keep-us-going or get-us-out-of-this-jam guy, but nobody knew whether he’d be physically ready to take on the role.

“If he was healthy, there was always a chance he could get there because his movement on his fastball, it’s pretty good when he’s healthy,” Montoyo says. “But to do what he’s done? Oh yeah that’s tough to do what he’s done this year.”

“I don’t think anybody expected him to be so well rehabbed and competitive in spring (training),” adds bullpen coach Matt Buschmann. “I think if you told me he was healthy and himself, yeah I would’ve expected this. But I think that was a question mark. It wasn’t, would he be integral. It was, physically, would he be able to be integral?”

Mayza has proven to be integral, and to be the team’s “most consistent” bullpen arm, if you ask Buschmann. He attacks both left- and right-handed bats, he gets that last out in an inning when the Jays are in a jam, then goes out for another out or two, setting the table for the finish.

“He’s been going 18 months straight,” Buschmann says. “I don’t think you can say enough about what that says about him and his ability to be resilient and go through adversity, and oh, by the way, he also got his Masters degree and had a kid. It’s awesome. You root for people like that.”

Mayza is well-liked around these parts, to be sure. “I love the guy,” Montoyo says. Catcher Reese McGuire says Mayza is among the team’s best chirpers, with a unique brand of subtlety and sarcasm. “He doesn’t fire off too much, but when he does, guys listen because he’s so hilarious,” McGuire says. Often, Mayza will get on teammates for being a minute late, or even a minute early for, say, a bullpen session. “I tend to go after Jordan Romano the most,” Mayza says, grinning. “I pick on him a little bit.”

Buschmann says the back-and-forth in the bullpen is non-stop, and a lot of it is driven by Mayza. “You gotta be careful where you step, because he’s gonna let you have it. The running joke with him is he’s the crotchety chaperone that is keeping everyone in line. It’s kind of tongue and cheek, but also, yeah, it’s good to have someone paying attention to details and holding everyone accountable.”

A stickler for the rules, and a fun guy — it’s a rarity. “That’s what makes Tim special,” Buschmann says. “He’s an enigma and a paradox. It’s his ability to say, ‘Hey, we gotta do this,’ but also be light-hearted about it when people give it back to him.”

That light-heartedness around baseball is even easier to come by, Mayza says, since he became a dad. “It gives me perspective. You leave the field and now there’s a little one that I’m taking care of that is counting on me to help him out along the way,” he says, giving a big hand to his wife, Darian, who has done most of the heavy lifting.

“I’ve been lucky to have them by my side most of the season,” he adds, since Everett and Darian were there for spring training, then moved to Buffalo, and are now splitting time between Toronto and Denver, Pa.

Mayza grew up in Allentown, Pa., and he comes from an athletic family: His dad played college basketball, his mom played soccer and his sister played pro basketball in Denmark and Lithuania. There’s pride in his voice when he talks about his family, the fact his sister is now a basketball coach. He, too, was quite the basketball player, but the college baseball recruitment letters started to outnumber the basketball recruitment letters while he was a sophomore in high school (the same year he threw a no-hitter.) “That’s why I figured this was the path I wanted to choose,” he says.

It was a long road to make the major leagues, but Mayza never doubted himself, because he kept working on his delivery and improving. The guy is constantly working on himself, and not just when it comes to pitching. After he got his Masters, in April, that gave him more time to devour books about his favourite topics: leadership and winning cultures. Right now he’s reading The Energy Bus: 10 Rules to Fuel your Life, Work and Team with Positive Energy. A recent favourite was Legacy, What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Life.

The Jays’ culture, Mayza says, is top shelf. “We play loose, we play with a lot of fun and a lot of energy,” he says. “In the bullpen, you expect each and every guy to be prepared and to have one another’s back. There’s accountability and that’s great, and it’s what keeps us together through the ebbs and flows of the season.”

McGuire has watched Mayza emerge as a leader this season, and has seen a fair number of changes to his approach to baseball since his return.

“He really took ownership of his recovery, he took ownership of his preparation,” McGuire says. “Whether he’s pitching that day or not, he’s always doing something for arm care. I’ve watched him a lot this year dissect how he wants to attack certain lineups. I watch him watching video of hitters, looking at numbers, stuff like that to prepare him for when he gets in the game, who he might face. He’s an all-around professional teammate, he’s a leader out of that bullpen, and we’re leaning on him heavy here down the stretch.”

McGuire can’t choose a favourite Mayza weapon. “He’s got 97 with the sinker and he’s got 91 with the slider. You can’t pick one,” the catcher says, with a laugh, after a session in the cage. “His stuff’s too good, it moves too much.”

In 57 games this season, Mayza has a 3.28 ERA with more strikeouts (50) than innings pitched (49.1), but those numbers undersell how well he’s pitched lately. After some early-season struggles, he has posted a 1.51 ERA since June 1 while becoming one of the team’s most trusted relievers.

Mayza says the time away gave him a chance to step back and make small adjustments to his mechanics, to help with repeatability in his delivery. “I think I’m seeing the best swings, and the results have been there,” he says. “It’s a testament to the staff and what we’ve changed over the past two years to get me to this point. It’s never a guarantee that your velo is going to come back, that the sharpness or consistency of the breaking ball is going to be there. I’ve been one of the fortunate ones where I think a lot of things have come back to normal.”

Or better than normal, even.

“You make it through what he’s made it through, what’s pitching in an eighth inning in a game?” Buschmann says. “I think that’s the difference. He’s got the confidence in himself, he believes in what he can do. Since 2019, he’s gotten better in a lot of different ways. You can see that in the way he carries himself.”

Mayza’s still grinning, still leaned up against the dugout. He’s excited for this game to get started.

“I feel great, I feel healthy,” he says. “Obviously some exciting stuff happening around here, right?”

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Declared COVID-19 outbreaks in Saskatchewan

© Global News Here’s a complete list of all the currently known coronavirus outbreaks in Saskatchewan and those locations. The Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) had been alerting the public about ... Read more »

Production On ‘America's Got Talent: Extreme' Shut Down After Contestant Injured In Stunt Gone Horribly Wrong

Production on “America’s Got Talent” has been temporarily paused after a performer was injured during rehearsals for the show on Thursday, Oct. 14. © Eliza Morris/NBC AMERICA’S GOT TALENT: EXTREME ... Read more »

Bowen Yang Brings Down the ‘SNL' House as ‘Proud Gay Oompa Loompa'

Bowen Yang Bowen Yang brought the Saturday Night Live house down when he appeared as a “proud gay Oompa Loompa” for a segment on “Weekend Update.” The comic was trending ... Read more »

Temperature turnaround coming in Ontario after showery, cool Sunday

Sunday isn’t looking to be much of an improvement in southern Ontario, as lake-effect showers will continue to flow off Lake Huron and Georgian Bay in behind Saturday’s system that ... Read more »

Scotiabank Waterfront marathon's 10K race draws 5,000 runners to downtown Toronto

© Tijana Martin/Canadian Press Runners in the elite female category react after completing the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon 10K in Toronto on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. The event was the ... Read more »

Prince William Rocks Green Velvet Tux At Earthshot Prize Awards Ceremony

[tp_video id=””] © AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali, pool Britain’s Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge stepped out on Sunday to attend the Earthshot Awards. ... Read more »

Waterspouts, lake-effect showers likely in Ontario as Great Lakes run a fever

The Great Lakes are running warm for this time of year. Water temperatures on all five lakes are the warmest we’ve seen in mid-October since 1995, and Lake Superior has ... Read more »

Governor General arrives in Germany for first international visit

OTTAWA — Gov. Gen. Mary May Simon arrives Sunday in Berlin to begin her first international visit on behalf of Canada in the German capital. © Provided by The Canadian ... Read more »

Susan Sarandon Reflects On Final Phone Call With Ex Lover David Bowie: ‘It's All So Frustrating'

© Photo: Patrick McMullan/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images Susan Sarandon and David Bowie Susan Sarandon is opening up about her final conversations with former flame David Bowie. The late music ... Read more »

A future of extreme drought and brutal storms predicted by new climate modelling

Two new climate modelling studies map how the world might experience climate change under warming scenarios of increasing severity and over longer terms. Predicting widespread instances of extreme drought and ... Read more »

Kanye West Performs ‘Donda' Tracks During Rare Live Performance At Venice Wedding

Kanye West’s live performances have been sporadic over the past few years, consisting mainly of his Sunday Service shows, since abruptly cancelling his Saint Pablo tour back in 2016. © ... Read more »

‘SNL': Rami Malek Teams Up With Pete Davidson For Musical Parody Of ‘Squid Game'

It was only a matter of time before Netflix phenom “Squid Game” received the “Saturday Night Live” treatment, and it finally happened in the Oct. 16 episode featuring host Rami Malek.  ... Read more »

Woman pulled from Mississauga house fire dies in hospital: police

© Andrew Collins/Global News Scene of a fatal fire Mississauga Saturday. A woman in her 70s who was pulled from a house fire in Mississauga has died of her injuries, ... Read more »

‘Mindhunter' Director Calls On Viewers To Ask Netflix For Season 3

Award winning director Asif Kapadia believes that a third season of “Mindhunter” “might actually happen” if fans ask loudly enough.  © Photo: Patrick Harbron / ©Netflix / courtesy Everett Collection ... Read more »

Selena Gomez Privately Emailed Facebook Execs About Hateful Content Back In 2020

© Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Global Citizen VAX LIVE Selena Gomez Selena Gomez slammed Facebook for not doing more to tackle hate speech in a private email sent to ... Read more »

Bowen Yang Steals The Spotlight As Hilarious Oompa-Loompa In ‘SNL'

[tp_video id=”1f622e7a-2f63-11ec-9439-0242ac110006″] © Photo: Will Heath/NBC Bowen Yang as an Oompa Loompa and anchor Colin Jost during Weekend Update Rami Malek is earning rave reviews thanks to his turn hosting ... Read more »

Brady Tkachuk to make season debut for Senators on Thursday

Winger Brady Tkachuk will make his season debut for the Ottawa Senators on Thursday against the San Jose Sharks, Senators head coach D.J. Smith confirms. © Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports ... Read more »

Cowboys get 1st win over Belichick's Patriots, 35-29 in OT

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Dak Prescott threw 35-yard touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb in overtime, and the Dallas Cowboys survived a wild finish to beat New England 35-29 on Sunday, ... Read more »

Suns' Mikal Bridges agrees to 4-year, $90 million extension

© Reuters/Mark J. Rebilas NBA: Phoenix Suns-Media Day Phoenix Suns forward Mikal Bridges agreed to a four-year, $90 million extension, his agents told ESPN on Sunday. The extension to his ... Read more »

Brian Austin Green Celebrates 1 Year with Girlfriend Sharna Burgess: 'Damn I'm Lucky'

Although Brian Austin Green‘s time with Sharna Burgess on Dancing with the Stars has ended, the couple’s romance is going strong. © Provided by People Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Brian Austin Green ... Read more »

Las Vegas Raiders begin post-Jon Gruden era with convincing win at Denver

DENVER (AP) — Derek Carr sliced up the Denver defense for 341 yards and two touchdowns, Maxx Crosby made three sacks and the Las Vegas Raiders started the post-Jon Gruden ... Read more »

Look: Urban Meyer's Postgame Speech Video Going Viral

© Provided by The Spun Urban Meyer’s postgame speech video. The Jacksonville Jaguars earned their first win of the season on Sunday, taking down the Miami Dolphins in London. Jacksonville ... Read more »

NFL World Reacts To Painful Hit On Baker Mayfield

© Provided by The Spun Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield beats the Steelers. You can debate a lot of things about Baker Mayfield – can he lead the Browns to ... Read more »

Dan Campbell Had Blunt Postgame Message For Jared Goff

© Provided by The Spun Jared Goff at training camp for the Lions. After today’s 34-11 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, Detroit Lions head coach Dan Campbell issued a challenge ... Read more »

Opinion: When the coach questions team's heart at halftime, you know it's another Giants disaster

EAST RUTHERFORD — Logan Ryan came into the postgame interview room still in full uniform, nearly 30 minutes after the Giants’ 38-11 loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. ... Read more »

Mike McCarthy Is Getting Crushed For His Decision Tonight

© Provided by The Spun Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy on the field. Another week, another onslaught of social media criticism for Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy. The ... Read more »

Vikings and Panthers Fans Brawl in Concourse

© Provided by The Big Lead Vikings and Panthers fans brawl in the concourse at Bank of America Stadium. The Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers were locked in a fierce ... Read more »

Broncos look awful after beating three high school teams

© Provided by Fansided The Denver Broncos do not look like the same team that went 3-0 to start the 2021 season. The Denver Broncos looked as though they were ... Read more »

Raiders dominate Broncos in AFC West matchup, win 34-24

© Provided by Raiders Wire https://embed.sendtonews.com/player4/embedcode.js?SC=NhyiUKKohv-1564920-7498&floatwidth=400&floatposition=bottom-right After back-to-back losses and the dismissal of Jon Gruden, the Raiders got a much-needed win. Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia got the first win ... Read more »

Ed Orgeron accused of having ‘girlfriends' interfering at LSU practices

© Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports Ed Orgeron led LSU to a national championship during the 2019 season. LSU announced on Sunday that it is surprisingly parting ways with Ed Orgeron ... Read more »

Cowboys Fans Get Concerning News After Sunday's Win

© Provided by The Spun Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on Sunday. The Dallas Cowboys notched a huge win on Sunday evening, beating the New England Patriots in overtime at ... Read more »

What Frank Reich said after Colts' 31-3 win over Texans

© Provided by Colts Wire The Indianapolis Colts (2-4) are now in sole possession of second place in the division after a 31-3 blowout win over the Houston Texans (1-5) ... Read more »

Everyone's Saying The Same Thing About Mike McCarthy Today

© Provided by The Spun Dallas Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy on the field. Mike McCarthy and clock management aren’t on the best of terms right now. The Dallas Cowboys ... Read more »

McIlroy wins in Las Vegas; Janzen takes 2nd senior title

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Rory McIlroy capped off a big weekend in Las Vegas on Sunday by surging past Rickie Fowler and holding off Collin Morikawa to win the CJ ... Read more »

MLB to provide housing for minor-league players starting in 2022 season, per report

Major League Baseball will provide housing for affiliated minor-league players starting in the 2022 season, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan. It’s not yet certain whether housing for minor leaguers will ... Read more »

Prescott TD pass lifts Cowboys to 35-29 OT win over Pats

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Dak Prescott threw 35-yard touchdown pass to CeeDee Lamb in overtime, and the Dallas Cowboys survived a wild finish to beat New England 35-29 on Sunday, ... Read more »

Browns' Baker Mayfield says injured shoulder 'feels like (expletive),' but he expects to play Thursday night

CLEVELAND — Baker Mayfield arrived to his postgame news conference Sunday night with his left arm in a black sling and his non-throwing shoulder giving him trouble again. “Feels like ... Read more »

Corey Seager home run puts Dodgers up 2-0 just two batters into NLCS Game 2

© Provided by The Comeback Corey Seager The Los Angeles Dodgers got off to a hot start in Game 2 of the National League Championship Series Sunday, trying to bounce ... Read more »

Players targeted with racist abuse at German soccer game

HAMBURG, Germany (AP) — Fans in Germany racially abused soccer players and threw objects during a game between Hamburger SV and Fortuna Düsseldorf, both clubs and a player confirmed Sunday. ... Read more »

Spanish Paula Badosa takes overall victory on Indian Wells debut

Paula Badosa has won the Indian Wells tennis tournament, also known as the fifth grand slam tournament. In her debut on the Californian hard court, the Spanish defeated Belarusian Viktoria ... Read more »