Sunday will go down as the day the 2019 season arrived at the Rogers Centre and after all the moaning about wanting to see the kids, well, Toronto Blue Jays fans? Your patience is about to be tried.
The Blue Jays recalled catcher Danny Jansen from triple-A Buffalo before Sunday’s series finale against the Tampa Bay Rays, placing third baseman Yangervis Solarte on the 10-day disabled list with a right oblique strain. Right-hander Sean Reid-Foley also made the trip north and will be added to the roster in time to start Monday’s game in Kansas City against the Royals.
Russell Martin started at third base Sunday and could very well see the lion’s share of time at the spot. That might not necessarily change, either, when Lourdes Gurriel Jr. comes off the 10-day DL later this week and Richard Urena most likely gets shipped out. Luke Maile caught Marcus Stroman Sunday.
Jansen slashed .275/.390/.473 with 12 home runs and 21 doubles and led the Bisons with 58 runs batted in. He played in the Futures Game during the all-star break, homering for Team USA. Jansen was the Blue Jays’ third-ranked prospect in MLB Pipeline’s recent organizational ratings; Reid-Foley, who was ranked 10th, went 12-4 (2.98) at two levels (double-A New Hampshire and Buffalo) with a combined WHIP of 1.121. He was 7-4 (3.50) at Buffalo and struck out a combined 146 batters while walking 47. Jansen was a 16th-round choice (475th overall) in 2013; Reid-Foley went in the second round of the 2014 draft, 49th overall.
Jansen has been the Blue Jays’ catcher of the future since a breakout 2016; Reid-Foley needed to impress the Blue Jays’ new administration after a spotty start to his career and a less-than-stellar spring training. Reid-Foley, who will turn 23 years old on Aug. 30, credits what amounted to a baseball intervention by two of the organization’s wise pitching heads – double-A pitching coach Vince Horsman and minor-league rehabilitation co-ordinator Rick Langford – as helping set him on the straight and narrow.
Wielding the whip for the finishing kick was triple-A pitching coach Bob Stanley. “We wanted me to get back to where I was in 2016,” said Reid-Foley. Much of the discussion, he added, was about “fastball command, down and away to every hitter. That was something we harped on.”
Blue Jays general manager Ross Atkins suggested things went a little deeper than simply better statistics.
“He met every goal we set for him,” Atkins said. “Routine … long-toss … work ethic. The type of teammate you need to be. He checked all the boxes.”
Reid-Foley has swing-and-miss stuff and power but now that he’s in the majors it will be fastball command that determines how far he goes. The Blue Jays need him to become more efficient, and that’s tough to do in the American League East.
“It’s a hard thing to focus on at times,” said Atkins. “Most of the time it’s because there’s something with the delivery.
“It can be a separator for pitchers, no question.”
Jansen and Reid-Foley found out about their call-ups Saturday during the Bisons game. They got together in Jansen’s hotel room last night along with Ryan Borucki, their former triple-A teammate who has been a breath of fresh air and a rare sign of positivity around the MLB club, and the recently recalled Thomas Pannone. Borucki was one of the first people Jansen called – the two were joined at the hip in the minors – and he told the newcomers, in the words of Reid-Foley, “enjoy the moment, don’t psych yourself out … and have fun.”
“That’s Ryan, though,” Reid-Foley said. “He’s always calm and confident. We were all so pumped up the day he got called up.”
Both Jansen and Reid-Foley agreed that it would be something else to be a battery Monday night. “It would be ideal … to get your feet wet with a guy you know well,” said Jansen, who described his 2018 as “kind of a whirlwind.”
“All I wanted to do was stay healthy and ride the wave.”
That wave washed ashore Sunday afternoon, bringing the catcher of the future into the present and a pitcher who, it can be said, earned his promotion regardless of the state of the rotation. This is what we all wanted, right?