TORONTO -- Aaron Sanchez's season came to an end before it ever got off the ground. A blister that plagued him throughout the year wasn't the official reason, but based on the final examination, it was still the main cause.
Sanchez was diagnosed with a pulley strain after meeting with a hand specialist in New York late last week. He has been shut down and is not expected to resume throwing until early December. By all accounts, he should be ready for the start of Spring Training.
The pulley strain affected a ligament in his right middle finger. The injury is most commonly found in rock climbers, but in Sanchez's case, it developed as he tried to overcompensate for a blister that developed early in the season and was slow to subside.
"The thing that the doctor said, he's dealt with these kind of situations from a lot of different athletes across different sports," Sanchez said. "He said the biggest thing is time. And why my finger felt good and felt [bad] here and there is because we gave it time and we'd throw, we'd give it time and we'd throw.
"The only thing that's really going to give this time [to heal] is to completely shut down. So that's kind of the stage where we're at. I don't feel like it will affect anything moving forward. The biggest thing is we just need to get whatever's in there out of there."
Sanchez finally has an answer to why the soreness in his finger would not go away, but the bigger issue is the recurring blister, and that's where the 25-year-old faces a lot of uncertainty. The Blue Jays have consulted with specialists and read a lot of studies, but there is no concrete plan moving forward.
Various treatment procedures will be evaluated in the coming weeks, but for now, the biggest hope is that extended rest will solve the problem. Sanchez has dealt with blisters before, including last season, but until this year he had been able to recover and keep pitching without missing much time. This season, he went on the disabled list four times and tossed just 36 innings.
Sanchez underwent a surgical procedure earlier in the year to remove half of his fingernail, but that didn't solve anything. Then there were the times Sanchez kept trying to get back on the mound. A longer period of rest may have led to his return in 2017.
"The way to think about it is, each procedure, each step of the way," Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins said when asked if there was anything he wished the club had done differently. "It's hard to say because we don't exactly know what we would have done had we not had half of the nail removed, right? But that procedure was one that we decided to change course on. So in hindsight ... hindsight is 20/20 -- we likely would have done that differently."
Sanchez clearly has reached the end of his rope. He was visibly frustrated and annoyed while speaking with the media Monday afternoon, and while fans might be tired of hearing about the blister, the reigning American League ERA champion is certainly tired of talking about it.
There's no way to sugarcoat this situation. This was a lost season for one of the most promising arms in baseball and all he can do is wait and hope that next year is better.
"That's what we're trying to find out," Sanchez said when asked how he was going to manage the blister. "I think I'll have an answer before I even pick up a ball on what kind of strategy we need to do moving forward with the blister. I'm trying to take care of that now because when I pick up a ball, I'm slamming the door on all this [stuff] that happened this year. I don't even want to look at my finger, that's how irritated I've been with all this stuff."
Gregor Chisholm has covered the Blue Jays for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB and Facebook, and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.