NEW YORK – Cliff Pennington learned of his acquisition by the Toronto Blue Jays from the Arizona Diamondbacks on Saturday morning, quickly gathered his things, boarded a 10 p.m. flight from Phoenix to New York, landed at 5:30 a.m., got to the hotel 90 minutes later and collapsed on his bed.
“I should have just stayed up once I got to the hotel, but it got way worse after I took a one-hour nap,” the middle infielder, all smiles, said Sunday after checking in with his new team. “We’ve got an off-day (Monday), the adrenaline will be pumping today, I’m not worried about it.”
There was little reason to worry for Pennington, energized by the change from the stuck-in-the-mud Diamondbacks to the wild-card leading Blue Jays. He’s embracing the switch in mindset from playing out the string ahead of free agency to fighting for the post-season.
“This is what you play for, you’re excited for the opportunity to go the post-season, play meaningful games late in the season and this team is doing that,” he said. “I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Pennington came up with Josh Donaldson in the Athletics system and appeared in the post-season for Oakland in 2012, so whenever there’s action, he feels prepared to handle whatever is thrown his way.
“Experience is huge in this game,” he said. “I don’t know if you can quantify exactly what it’s worth, but having been there before, it gives you peace when you get into that situation again. This is the reason we play and I’m excited to be on a team that is doing great things and has a great chance to win the division. I think that’s what we’re all going for, the wild card is cool but we want to win that division.”
Pennington heard trade rumours before the non-waiver trade deadline passed but was caught off guard by Saturday’s deal. He watched the Blue Jays’ buildup from afar, noting the Troy Tulowitzki deal made by the NL West rival Rockies – “we were excited to get him out of the division,” he says – and the David Price pickup.
“There’s a lot of buzz around this team,” he said, “and I’m excited to be a part of it.”