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Gaviglio playing the waiting game

Sam Gaviglio is at least one major leaguer who doesn’t have to search hard for a silver lining as baseball wrangles over the resumption of play.

The Toronto Blue Jays ace reliever and his wife, Alaina, have plenty to keep them busy at their Talent home.

Daughter Livia celebrated her second birthday on Friday.

Daughter Gianna celebrated her first week on Friday.

“That’s, I guess, another positive out of this situation,” said Gaviglio, a former Ashland High and Oregon State standout who led all big league relievers in innings pitched last season. “I’m here to help a lot more because during the season, I’d only get three days. So with Livia, it was just kind of, hi and goodbye.”

Gaviglio returned to the Rogue Valley after spring training was suspended in mid-March because of the coronavirus.

He had worked in three spring games, facing 13 batters. The right-hander allowed three hits and an unearned run over three innings, striking out three and walking none.

Then camp was called.

Since then, he’s hooked up with former Crater and Oregon State pitcher Dylan Pearce to play catch at Anhorn Field in Central Point, and the two have used Harry & David Field for more intense pitching workouts with Medford Rogues associate head coach Parker Berberet.

How soon, if at all in 2020, Gaviglio returns to the Blue Jays is anyone’s guess.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and players union head Tony Clark met this week to hammer out an agreement on when play might resume, how many games the abbreviated season would have and a salary framework, among other considerations.

The owners suggested a 60-game season on Wednesday, and the players countered with a 70-game proposal the following day.

At that point, Gaviglio was heartened.

“I think it’s a positive direction,” he said. “For a little bit, we were kind of stalled out and things weren’t looking very promising. But I think everything’s moving in the right direction.”

Another detour on the ever-changing road to resolution occurred when Manfred rejected the players’ proposal, leaving the process in a holding pattern.

Gaviglio and others throughout the majors are kept informed by their team’s player representatives. Pitcher Matt Shoemaker fills that role for the Blue Jays.

The Toronto players most recently got together via a Zoom meeting last week, said Gaviglio.

If the owners and players can’t reach an accord, MLB has the option of implementing a season with as many games it wishes.

In the players union proposal, spring training would begin late this month and the season would be from July 19 to Sept. 30.

Regardless, Gaviglio will work on his craft here, with Pearce and Berberet.

Pearce was drafted out of OSU by St. Louis in the 31st round last year, but the Cardinals released him in late May.

Berberet also played for the Beavers and is an undergraduate assistant coach with the program.

“I’ve been lucky,” said Gaviglio, “to have one of my college catchers for two years, who lives down here now, to throw with.”

Gaviglio had been a starter for most of his career. He was drafted by St. Louis in 2011, then moved to Seattle and Kansas City before being traded to Toronto in 2018.

He made 24 starts in his first season with the Blue Jays before switching exclusively to the bullpen.

In 52 appearances in 2019, Gaviglio logged a major league-best 952/3 innings. They were the most by a Toronto reliever in 27 years.

His 88 strikeouts ranked ninth among American League relievers, and he posted a 4-2 record with a 4.61 ERA.

“It’s something to build off,” said Gaviglio, “if that’s where I’ve got to make my career, in the bullpen. I mean, I do enjoy starting, but I’m fine with (relieving). Pitching’s pitching and playing baseball.”

He’s pleased with how last season evolved but said there’s “also a lot of stuff to improve on. You try to keep the good going and try to learn from the bad and improve on that.”

He doesn’t expect his role to change when the season resumes.

“I think that’s kind of my value,” said Gaviglio, “is that I’m able to do multiple innings and can bounce back pretty quick and give them another couple innings.”

One of his highlight appearances last season came in April against Oakland, when Gaviglio became the fourth pitcher in franchise history with a perfect relief stint over at least four innings.

He also earned his 10th career win with three one-hit innings against the Chicago White Sox in May.

But as satisfying as those performances were, there was something else Gaviglio considered to be special.

“I think the biggest thing that kind of gets overlooked,” he said, “is I made it through the season healthy. I didn’t have any health issues, arm issues, nothing. To make it through a whole 162 games, I’m very happy about that.”

He’s worked through a couple elbow ailments in the past.

“Overall, being healthy and being able to provide innings and being on the field,” he said, “I think that’s a very big value.”

Until he’s called to action again, however, his value is on the home front.

Reach sports editor Tim Trower at 541-776-4479 or ttrower@rosebudmedia.com.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Sam Gaviglio walks to the mound with his 2-year-old daughter Livia at Harry & David Field Friday.
Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Sam Gaviglio at Harry & David Field Friday for a work-out.