Avendano Adjusting to New Team

LANSING, MI - Javier Avendano has pitched his way to several different places in his young career, and now looks to remain steady with the Toronto Blue Jays organization. The 22-year-old right-handed reliever hails from Maracaibo, Venezuela, where he began his baseball career.

"[Venezuela] is a small, but beautiful country and I started playing baseball when I was only 5-years-old," Avendano said.

Baseball is a sport favored by Venezuelans, mainly because the popularity and players are able to play in leagues year-round due to the warm weather.

"As a kid in Venezuela, the first sport you practice is baseball," Avendano said. "That is why Venezuela has many big leaguers."

Avendano and the path he has chosen to become a major league player officially went underway at 5-years-old, but there were several discoveries and adventures to come. To begin, Avendano was not always a pitcher. He realized he was a pitcher later on in his career. Until then, he was an outfielder his entire life.

"I was a pitcher at age 15. I played centerfield all of my life, but pitching is definitely my favorite position," Avendano said. "I had a better chance to play professionally with pitching."

Javier Avendano began his professional baseball career as a St. Louis Cardinal. The Cardinals acquired him in 2008, and Avendano was only 16-years-old at the time of his signing.

He was able to play in the Venezuelan summer league for St. Louis, before moving to the Gulf Coast league in 2009. He then moved on to St. Louis' Low-A affiliate Batavia Muckdogs, where he spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons.The Cardinals last year, due to an injury issue with his throwing shoulder, released Avendano.

"I was supposed to play for the Cardinals' Midwest League team. I had a starting spot in the rotation, but unfortunately I had an injury," Avendano said.

Following the release, the Blue Jays acquired Avendano through the MLB Rule 5 Draft which is conducted each December at the annual winter meetings of general managers. Through rehab and regular workouts, Avendano's shoulder is feeling better and he is looking for a fresh start in Lansing.

"I feel good with my shoulder. I feel strong, and this is very important," Avendano said. "Anything I do now with my arm is me working to receive a move up, but with baseball you never know. I will need to keep working hard every day for myself and the team."

This past offseason, none of the Lugnuts staff knew of Avendano because he was not yet part of the team. Disregarding his language barrier and other factors, Avendano has hit the ground running.

"He has fit in very well. In spending time with the Cardinals and now here in Lansing, he is getting adjusted to the states," Manager John Tamargo said. "He pitched a bunch for us during Spring Training and we saw many good things, and there are a lot of things he is continuing to show here."

Although Avendano had to switch gears since playing for a different team for the previous four years, he has handled the change of scenery with maturity.

"As far as him adapting, he has been great," Pitching Coach Vince Horsman said. "His spring was just fine, he threw the ball well; and since he has been here, he has continued to go down that hard-working path."

Avendano is a reliever on the rise with a variety of pitches he challenges his batters with. He has a more confident approach with his fastball and curveball, but also has a changeup and is trying to work in a slider in due time.

Horsman and the staff are not too concerned on adding new pitches, as much as they are with consistency of Avendano's overall approach. Horsman has a deeper focus on the fundamental mechanics in Avendano's pitching more than anything else.

"He gets a little too over-rotational with his hips and shoulders, so we will try to have them more in line with each other," Horsman said. "It is a battle and fight because is so used to doing it a certain way, but he is working hard and he is receptive to the idea."

Avendano has come a long way, figuratively and literally, and it is his time to progress and become the player he has the ability to be. "As you go on, that is the idea, to get better and better. You are here to get that chance to get to the next level and tighten up your game," Horsman said.

Avendano has had a solid season thus far with appearances in 11 games and striking out 22 batters, posting a 2.00 ERA, with opponents batting only .194 against him. He also has a win to his credit and converted his first save last week in Dayton.

"He has been outstanding, he is a late-inning guy who has done tremendous this year. We expect for him to progress in the bullpen," Tamargo said.

Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\"[Venezuela] is a small, but beautiful country and I started playing baseball when I was only 5-years-old,\" Avendano said.
\r\n\r\n
Baseball is a sport favored by Venezuelans, mainly because the popularity and players are able to play in leagues year-round due to the warm weather.
\r\n\r\n
\"As a kid in Venezuela, the first sport you practice is baseball,\" Avendano said. \"That is why Venezuela has many big leaguers.\"
\r\n\r\n
Avendano and the path he has chosen to become a major league player officially went underway at 5-years-old, but there were several discoveries and adventures to come. To begin, Avendano was not always a pitcher. He realized he was a pitcher later on in his career. Until then, he was an outfielder his entire life.
\r\n\r\n
\"I was a pitcher at age 15. I played centerfield all of my life, but pitching is definitely my favorite position,\" Avendano said. \"I had a better chance to play professionally with pitching.\"
\r\n\r\n
Javier Avendano began his professional baseball career as a St. Louis Cardinal. The Cardinals acquired him in 2008, and Avendano was only 16-years-old at the time of his signing.
\r\n\r\n
He was able to play in the Venezuelan summer league for St. Louis, before moving to the Gulf Coast league in 2009. He then moved on to St. Louis' Low-A affiliate Batavia Muckdogs, where he spent the 2010 and 2011 seasons.The Cardinals last year, due to an injury issue with his throwing shoulder, released Avendano.
\r\n\r\n
\"I was supposed to play for the Cardinals' Midwest League team. I had a starting spot in the rotation, but unfortunately I had an injury,\" Avendano said.
\r\n\r\n
Following the release, the Blue Jays acquired Avendano through the MLB Rule 5 Draft which is conducted each December at the annual winter meetings of general managers. Through rehab and regular workouts, Avendano's shoulder is feeling better and he is looking for a fresh start in Lansing.
\r\n\r\n
\"I feel good with my shoulder. I feel strong, and this is very important,\" Avendano said. \"Anything I do now with my arm is me working to receive a move up, but with baseball you never know. I will need to keep working hard every day for myself and the team.\"
\r\n\r\n
This past offseason, none of the Lugnuts staff knew of Avendano because he was not yet part of the team. Disregarding his language barrier and other factors, Avendano has hit the ground running.
\r\n\r\n
\"He has fit in very well. In spending time with the Cardinals and now here in Lansing, he is getting adjusted to the states,\" Manager John Tamargo said. \"He pitched a bunch for us during Spring Training and we saw many good things, and there are a lot of things he is continuing to show here.\"
\r\n\r\n
Although Avendano had to switch gears since playing for a different team for the previous four years, he has handled the change of scenery with maturity.
\r\n\r\n
\"As far as him adapting, he has been great,\" Pitching Coach Vince Horsman said. \"His spring was just fine, he threw the ball well; and since he has been here, he has continued to go down that hard-working path.\"
\r\n\r\n
Avendano is a reliever on the rise with a variety of pitches he challenges his batters with. He has a more confident approach with his fastball and curveball, but also has a changeup and is trying to work in a slider in due time.
\r\n\r\n
Horsman and the staff are not too concerned on adding new pitches, as much as they are with consistency of Avendano's overall approach. Horsman has a deeper focus on the fundamental mechanics in Avendano's pitching more than anything else.
\r\n\r\n
\"He gets a little too over-rotational with his hips and shoulders, so we will try to have them more in line with each other,\" Horsman said. \"It is a battle and fight because is so used to doing it a certain way, but he is working hard and he is receptive to the idea.\"
\r\n\r\n
Avendano has come a long way, figuratively and literally, and it is his time to progress and become the player he has the ability to be.\r\n\"As you go on, that is the idea, to get better and better. You are here to get that chance to get to the next level and tighten up your game,\" Horsman said.
\r\n\r\n
Avendano has had a solid season thus far with appearances in 11 games and striking out 22 batters, posting a 2.00 ERA, with opponents batting only .194 against him. He also has a win to his credit and converted his first save last week in Dayton.
\r\n\r\n
\"He has been outstanding, he is a late-inning guy who has done tremendous this year. 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